Cultural programs unite Americans and Qataris during a momentous year

The Charlie Porter Quintet performs at the Katara Opera House, Nov. 27. Photo by Tracy Castro Aguilar
The Charlie Porter Quintet performs at the Katara Opera House, Nov. 27. Photo by Tracy Castro Aguilar

By Michael Pointer

For the past decade, Qatar Museums has selected one country per year with which to celebrate a “Year of Culture.” In 2021, they chose the United States. Embassy Doha’s Public Affairs team worked diligently to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, ensuring the American and Qatari people could deepen the ties built during nearly 50 years of partnership and present a successful event.  

Thanks to the Qatari government’s effective COVID-19 response, much of the Year of Culture program took place safely in person. The series of events began and ended with concerts performed by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Air Forces Central (AFCENT) Band. Qatar’s most famous female musician, Dana al Fardan and the AFCENT band performed an original song for the occasion. Post led efforts—and coordinated with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Expo 2020 team, and local partners—to facilitate U.S. envoy engagements including Shelli Brunswick with the Space Foundation, muralist Jason Keam, the Charlie Porter Quintet, the Soul Street Dance Company, chefs William Dissen and Saif Rahman, fashion designer Noor Bchara, and several other U.S. speakers. Art exhibitions and film festivals also enriched the event. 

During periods in which restrictions required virtual outreach, the embassy team coordinated with Qatari partners to organize a virtual study abroad fair to showcase U.S. higher education. In collaboration with Qatari comedian and influencer Hamad Al Amari, Embassy Doha also hosted a series of discussions with U.S. experts on issues such as mental health, civic engagement, environmental sustainability, and much more.  

Embassy Doha cultivated cultural bridges and encouraged mutual respect and tolerance by exposing audiences to American ideals of community and diversity during the 2021 Year of Culture. In 2022, Embassy Doha will celebrate 50 years of U.S. diplomatic relations with Qatar and will continue to build mutual understanding and strengthen the enduring bond between the American and Qatari people. 

Michael Pointer is a public diplomacy officer at Embassy Doha.

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