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QMA project head Rafah Barakat on the Qatar Brazil 2014 Year of Culture
What are the highlights of the upcoming Qatar Brazil 2014 Year of Culture? How have the Year of Culture events developed since the initial partnerships with the UK (2013) and Japan (2012)?
BARAKAT: Actually, we have a lot of exciting things we are doing between Qatar and Brazil and we've been organizing a lot of events and exhibitions. Most of them are in Qatar, but there are events in both Qatar and Brazil. From Brazil, we are bringing Capoeira, poetry, and film festivals. We are exchanging with the Brazilians film festivals, and the Garengao event, which is celebrated in the middle of Ramadan. We have a lot of things actually, very, very exciting things with the Qatar Brazil project.
The Qatar Museum Authority has been doing a lot of projects. We started with Qatar Japan, Qatar UK, and we are planning to have Qatar Brazil, which is very exciting for all the teams. During Qatar Japan, we were doing 40 events, but we developed the Qatar UK year to get 80 events, and we are planning to have more and more. We are growing for this project, which is really good, and plan to show the Qatari culture and exchange culture between countries.
How supportive have the respective governments been of the Year of Culture project?
BARAKAT: Thanks to the help of both governments, Qatari and Brazilian, we didn't have any problems in developing our project. It really has been a very supportive environment from the government of Brazil and they really opened the door for us, and welcomed us any time. They love to have Qatar for this project. From the other side, the Qatari government also gave us full support with the Embassies of Qatar and Brazil.
What further relationships have resulted from the Year of Culture?
BARAKAT: We actually established a lot of partnerships since we started with Qatar Japan and Qatar UK. We have a monthly steering committee, with attendance sometimes from Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad and Ed Dolman, the CEO of Qatari Museum Authority, and both sides of Ambassadors, from Brazil and the Qatari Ambassador in Brazil. As I've visited Brazil several times now, I've been myself visiting a lot of museums and the federal government in Brazil. We've been doing a lot of good work to establish the relationships with the museums, and the Secretary of Tourism. We’ve been meeting a lot of people from the government and discussing our project with them. It's going to be a perfect relationship. We also have a lot of private companies that are going to be involved with our project.
Actually, I've been in Sao Paulo a few weeks ago and I visited a lot of private companies in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia, the capital. They've been very excited to come to Qatar to develop relationships and commercial ties in Qatar itself, and also to exchange commercial ties back to Brazil. We have opened a lot of doors to develop the tourism sector, the economic sector, so I think this project will be amazing for many kinds of things between Qatar and Brazil.
How have you been received as a Qatari woman who is in charge of such a large scale project?
BARAKAT: I'm traveling back and forth to Brazil to support the relationship between the companies and the museum. I'm looking for a good museum to represent our exhibitions. There is a lot of exciting things to see. There are different people. They are thinking differently from the Arabs. I like their foods, I like how they live, I like the people. They're doing their jobs for five hours and then they go to swim. For example in Rio de Janeiro, they do a lot of sports. They're looking after their bodies a lot and they really love football. They can spend five hours watching TV, doing sports, playing football. There is a funny thing, when they saw a Qatari lady was doing this job, as I am the head of section of the Qatar Brazil project. They had been thinking that Qatari ladies, they cannot do the job. But they're being very, very, very supportive and they're happy to see a lady wearing an Abaya who speaks to them and who is actually preparing for such a big project.
I've been very surprised when I've met ladies from the government in Brazil. When I was meeting them, and since I represent our project, which is a very big project, they've been very surprised to find a lady doing this project because it's really big. They were thinking that the Arabic ladies, especially the Qatari ladies, they're very spoiled and they just sit at home, that they didn't do such jobs as we are doing in the Qatari Museum Authority. This was really a surprise for them, and they’ve given us full support.