Doha Debates’ Town Hall Asks: Is Orientalism a Harmful Legacy or a Beneficial Cultural Exchange?

(MENAFN- Qatar Foundation ) Doha, Qatar, 8 November 2023 –– The complicated legacy of Orientalist art will be the focus of a town-hall-style event hosted by Qatar Foundation’s Doha Debates in collaboration with Lusail Museum and VCUarts Qatar. The event will take place on 14 November, 2023 at 7pm Doha time at VCUarts Qatar. Limited seating is open to the public and can be reserved via Eventbrite.

“Orientalism Demystified: Eastern Insights on Western Myths” will explore how Orientalist art has shaped Western perceptions of Arab and Asian identities, how 19th-century Orientalist stereotypes are still reflected in modern media and cultural narratives, and how museums should present and explore Orientalist works in their collections.

An onstage audience of students and young adults will share their perspectives on these issues in a discussion guided by three experts in the field: Kholood Al-Fahad, a writer, researcher, and the Deputy Director of curatorial affairs at the Lusail Museum; Fatima Bhutto, a Pakistani journalist, author and commentator; and Inaya Folarin Iman, a broadcast journalist, commentator and trustee of the National Portrait Gallery in London. Dena Takruri, a Palestinian American author and a journalist with AJ+, will moderate the conversation.

“There are so many complex questions surrounding Orientalism’s impact on identity, culture, and politics. At a time when understanding between the so-called East and West seems to be at a low point, we’re excited to engage in a productive town hall at VCUarts Qatar,” said Amjad Atallah, Managing Director of Doha Debates. “The university’s commitment to cutting-edge arts, design, and art history education rooted in the traditions of Qatar makes it an ideal place to hold our discussion.

“We’ve found another great collaborator in the Lusail Museum, which holds the largest collection of Orientalist art in the world and uses debate and dialogue to expand viewers’ attitudes and beliefs about it. Our town hall aims to foster that same kind of deeply engaged and open-minded approach to a challenging global issue.”

Dr. Radha Dalal, Associate Professor and Director of Art History at VCUArts Qatar, added: “Orientalist perspectives have for long negatively colored Western perceptions of Middle Eastern peoples and ways of life. The impact can still be felt in today’s discourse surrounding art, food, music, and other forms of cultural expression. This town hall is a timely opportunity for students to debate interpretations of Orientalist art and their contemporary resonances given the current geopolitical climate.”

The full town hall will be posted across Doha Debates’ Twitter/X, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube feeds after the live event. For more information on the event, visit Doha Debates’ website:


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