Art Influencers in the Arab World

Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi

We are introducing the Art Blog by Jodar, and what better way to start than celebrating a very influential figure in Arab art, the art collector and founder of the Barjeel Foundation in Sharjah, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi. He is among the leaders of a cultural shift that over the last decade has brought modern and contemporary art from the Arab world to global attention.

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is an Emirati columnist and researcher on social, political and cultural affairs in the Arab Gulf States whose articles have appeared in The Financial Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Open Democracy, The National, and The Globe and Mail, as well as other notable publications.

“In the Arab World, I can tell you what a pleasure it’s been for me the past year discovering women artists. Women in the Arab World have really excelled with abstraction. From Huguette Caland, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Samia Halaby in Palestine. In Jordan, you have an entire school, from Hind Nasser to Wijdan, Ufemia Rizk, Suha Shoman.” Al Qassemi, Sultan. Interview by ALIA KAWAR.  artmejo x arabworldart, 20 Jan. 2020 @arabworldart @artmejo

Sultan’s tweets became a major news source during the Arab Spring, rivaling the major news networks at the time, until TIME magazine listed him in the “140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011.” In 2018 Sultan ranked 19th on the “Arabic Thought Leader Index” by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute.

Sultan was a practitioner-in-residence at the Hagop Kevorkian Center of Near East Studies at New York University in the Spring of 2017, a 2018 Yale Greenberg World Fellow, a lecturer at the Council of Middle East Studies in Yale University and then an Adjunct Instructor at the Center of Contemporary Arab Studies in Georgetown University in 2019, and a Visiting Instructor at the Islamic Civilization & Societies Program in Boston College in Spring of 2020.

Sultan is also the founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation @barjeelart an independent initiative established in 2010 to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region by building a prominent and publicly accessible art collection in the United Arab Emirates. In 2018, 100 works from the collection were hosted on a long-term basis at the Sharjah Art Museum.

Sultan is currently conducting research for a book that documents the modern architecture of the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, and is a Senior Lecturer teaching a course on “Politics of Modern Middle Eastern Art” at the Art History and Fine Arts department in The American University of Paris.

His certifications include a 2006 Sharjah Scientific & Cultural Association Recognition Award, as well as the Middle East Leadership Initiative Certificate of Graduation awarded by Aspen Institute in May 2018.

Photos courtesy: @sultanalqassemi