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Fatima Nazir, Mahnoor Tahir & Latifa Al-Ali

We asked special guests to choose a student whose work must be highlighted, whose talents they want to share with the world and whose names we’ll all soon know in Qatar.

Discover the pick of Khalifa Al Thani, filmmaker, curator and visual artist.

The Strokes of Time

Original: Work with a unique concept, is innovative, or outside the box. The project invents or presents concepts in a new and unexpected fashion.

Time is a universal concept that shapes human experiences, influences personal and societal behavior, and profoundly impacts the natural world, making it a valuable and essential aspect of our lives. The Strokes of Time focuses on a poetic approach by visualizing the illusions of time and examining the relationship between individuals and this elusive concept. The subjective and deceptive nature of time is explored through the lens of visual representation, exploring the time as character design, this thesis reveals the unique illusions, perceptions and distinct relationships held by each person with time. By emphasizing the importance of recognizing the ever-changing nature of time, this study encourages individuals to challenge their own perceptions and understanding of the complexities of this universal concept.

Website: https://www.fatimanazir.com/

Desert Metropolis

Impactful: Work that directly impacts a community, culture, society or tackles a local/global issue. It not only raises awareness but creates a lasting impact on the viewer.

This thesis proposes a speculative approach to a fictitious city in the Middle East, set in the distant future, which incorporates traditional housing and survival techniques of the past. Drawing from the rich cultural history of the region, the city will reimagine and adapt these traditions to address contemporary challenges such as climate change and rapid urbanization.

By exploring how past generations have solved housing and survival problems with limited resources, this approach seeks to create a sustainable and resilient city that honors the past while embracing the future. Through a blend of speculative fiction and urban design, this thesis aims to inspire new ideas and perspectives on the role of tradition in shaping future cities in the Middle East and beyond.

Website: https://mahnoortahirr.com/

Letter by Letter (Harf Harf)

Daring: Work that pushes boundaries, questions norms or beliefs, takes risks, or goes against the mainstream to express a concept. The work challenges the understanding or interpretation of the world around us.

Highlighting the unique form and connectivity of Arabic, the Arabic letter beads (Harf Harf) provide a tangible and interactive tool for exploring the intricacies of the Arabic script. The product responds to the limited availability of learning tools in the Arabic language. The wearable beads provide a new way for children and adults alike to play with the building blocks of the language. Through a rigorous process of material exploration and prototyping, the beads were developed to allow users to see and feel the individual letterforms, explore the different ways of connection and unlock poetic potentials.

Website: http://latifaalali.net/

Khalifa Abudllah Al-Thani

Khalifa Al Thani is a Qatari filmmaker, curator, and visual artist. Al Thani has worked on a variety of projects, ranging from films to art exhibitions. His work focuses on the interdisciplinary exploration of Qatar and Arab identity themes. In the last few years, he directed, wrote and produced several fiction and non-fiction films. His most recent work Border, won the silver award at the New York Festival in Manhattan, as well as Best film at the Tangier Film Festival in Morocco. Al Thani’s ventures into curatorial works include the most recent “Intaj Exhibition”, which took place during the World Cup of 2022 and focused on the Film, Television and Theatre industries in Qatar and internationally. He attained a BFA in Film and Video from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and is currently a part of the Doha Film Institute.


I was happy to see the graduating students presenting a refreshing perspective on the world around us and delve into topics that are challenging.

About the Selected Projects: 'The Strokes of Time ' and 'Desert Metropolis' and 'Letter by Letter (Harf Harf)'

Impactful, original, and daring artworks are undoubtedly the ones that leave an indelible impression on their audience. These pieces are characterized by their exceptional creativity, unique approach, and provocative subject matter. They challenge conventions and push boundaries, both in terms of form and content, sparking conversations and inspiring emotions. The piece titled Letter by Letter (Harf Harf) stands as a strong example of this. One could envision that product in the educational system and department stores. The animated film The Story of Time, is another great example in how skillfully it brings the unconscious characters into mind and questions reality. The project Desert Metropolis also captures futurism, archeology, and preservation of history beautifully – a theme that questions the climate and in what trajectory we’re headed. I was happy to see the graduating students presenting a refreshing perspective on the world around us and delve into topics that are challenging.
Khalifa Al Thani Portrait © Khalifa Al Thani.
Latifa Al-Ali, ‘Letter by Letter (Harf Harf)’ Graphic Design 2023 © Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar.
Mahnoor Tahir, ‘Desert Metropolis’ Graphic Design 2023 © Mahnoor Tahir

The Graphic Design at VCUarts Qatar plays a dynamic role in the region through education and research focused on cultural production, social innovation, and the preservation and development of typographic cultural heritage. Our graduates have collaborated and explored a range of tools, materials and modes of making to develop extra-disciplinary creative practices capable of reimagining design’s role in society.

We are proud to introduce to you the class of 2023: a group of empowered creative citizens, cultural participants and radical forces who will creatively impact our world.

Afreena Niaz

Al-Maha Al-Muftah

Asma Al-Mannai

Fatima Abbas

Fatima Nazir

Hissa Al-Ghanim

Latifa Al-Ali

Maha Al-Sulaiti

Maha Al-Marri

Mahnoor Tahir

Nadia Jabari

Ohoud Al-Sayegh

Safia Al-Mannai

Salja Rasheed

Sara Al-Naimi

Sara Al-Ahmad

Yasmine Alnass

Yousef Sheikh

Zahra Anwar

Astrid Kensinger, Chair
Maryam Al-Homaid, Law Alsobrook, Denielle Emans, Basma Hamdy, Levi Hammett, Michael Hersrud, Leland Hill and Peter Martin

Adjunct Faculty:
Pornprapha Phantanteacha, Mariam Rafehi and Bahia Shehab

Fatima Nazir, The Strokes of Time, 2023, © Fatima Nazir, VCUarts Qatar
Fatima Nazir, The Strokes of Time, 2023, © Fatima Nazir, VCUarts Qatar

Astrid Kesinger, Department Chair

GDES was honored to have Khalifa Abdulla Al-Thani as our guest curator. His selection of three awards: ‘Daring’ – Latifa Al Ali, ‘Impactful’ – Mahnoor Tahir, and ‘Original’ – Fatima Nazir, reflect our department’s emphasis on Making, Research, Collaboration and Cultural Literacy. The three students, under the mentorship of Maryam Al Homaid, Basma Hamdy & Levi Hammett, explored history, time, language and architecture, drawing from deep research to create projects that resonate for the future. Bravo and thank you all for your excellence!

The RAW Talent

May–Sept 2023
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