Dimitrije Bugarski’s mural, part of “100 Days of Blockade.”

Murals Commissioned From Five Qatari Artists to Protest Embargo

Helena Halim reports at ArtAsiaPacific that five artists in Qatar have covered the facade and other surfaces of an art space in Doha called the Fire Station with murals as a protest against the diplomatic and trade embargo of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt. The murals—by Mubarak al-Malik, Ali al-Kuwari, Dimitrije Bugarski, Thamer Mesfer, and Assil Diab—were first unveiled on September 12 as the first step of a “100 Days of Blockade” initiative, which provides a platform for Qatar-based artists to respond to the ongoing dispute. The initiative’s next phase involves placing murals on the surfaces of a “bridge, tunnel, or wall.” For this subsequent round, artists’ proposals will be judged by members of Fire Station and the Public Works Authority of Qatar.

Last June, Saudi Arabia and its allies placed the blockade on Qatar, alleging that the oil-rich country’s monarchs have sponsored terrorist organizations across the Middle East for decades. The move was partly prompted by a news report published on the website of the state-run Qatar News Agency, in which the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, was quoted praising Israel and Iran, and criticizing US president Donald Trump’s foreign policy toward Iran. Though the Qatari government rushed to claim that the report was put online by hackers, shortly after its publication Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, the Maldives, Mauritania, Comoros, Chad, Libya’s eastern-based government, and the self-declared Somaliland cut diplomatic relations with Qatar. Saudi Arabia and some of its allies have also demanded that Qatar shut down its state-funded broadcaster Al Jazeera and cut back ties with Tehran.