A new daily publication that aims to be a guide to art and culture in Qatar and the surrounding region has launched online today.
Qulture, a polished-looking website that has been in the works for two years or so, is funded by the Qatar Museums Authority. Sheikha Al Mayassa, chairwoman of QMA and sister of Qatar’s emir, is the founder of the site, while Whitney Robinson, who attended Duke University with her before going on to work for the Hearst magazine chain in the US, is its co-founder.
Though at the moment the website is filled with many stories about QMA-related works, including information about the upcoming Damien Hirst exhibition, an article on Hey’Ya: Arab Women in Sports and a profile of graffiti artist eL Seed, Qulture’s aim is to go beyond Qatar and serve as a bridge between cultures, the website states.
Speaking to Doha News, editor Burhan Wazir said Qulture is working to tell “sophisticated stories” about the region’s developments regarding art, film, music, literature and sports:
“If you look at the art scene around the Gulf and the Middle East, it’s not suffered from the same problems as say financial institutions have, or politics have – it’s been relatively immune to that.
People have found incredibly ingenious ways to focus on the arts in the past few years.”
Also on Qulture are articles about food and fashion, and a calendar of events listing what’s on around town and the region. The articles are presented in English and Arabic, and the website is updated daily.
Though Wazir declined to disclose the size of Qulture’s budget, he said the site has a full-time team of eight people, five of whom are based in Qatar, and a large network of freelancers.
Wazir, who was previously deputy features editor and later film editor at The Times of London, is also no stranger to the Gulf. In 2008, he moved to Abu Dhabi for the launch of The National and last year did a stint with the Doha Film Institute.
When asked if he felt whether government funding of institutions like The National and DFI – and now Qulture – could have an adverse effect on their content, the British journalist explained:
“We’re not here to cover politics or to cover local news. It’s purely arts and culture.”
“Qulture would not have been possible without the Qatar Museums Authority. Any journalistic endeavor is incredibly difficult these days – funding is a huge issue. I think we’ve been incredibly lucky in terms of who we partner with.”
But he also suggested that political issues might be handled more indirectly, mentioning an upcoming article on Egyptian food in which the upheaval there could be understood by reading between the lines of the story.