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  • Nov 09, 2021

Mathaf Appoints New Director

Exterior view of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy Qatar Museums.

On November 8, Qatar Museums named Zeina Arida as the new director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, effective this month. Arida takes over the position from Abdellah Karroum who will become a special curatorial advisor to Sheikha Amna Al Thani, the acting deputy CEO of Museums, Collections and Heritage Protection for Qatar Museums, and director of the National Museum of Qatar.

Arida has served as the director of Beirut’s Sursock Museum since 2014, during which she oversaw the reopening of the museum in 2015 following a decade-long renovation and expansion. As a specialist in photography, archives, and modern and contemporary art, she organized a series of exhibitions and public programs, and supervised the development of the Sursock Museum’s library and archives. During her seven-year tenure, the museum collaborated with many regional and international institutions and collectives, and hosted solo exhibitions by artists such as Mandy El-Sayegh, Baris Doğrusöz, Laure et Mazen, Oumaya Alieh Soubra, and Gregory Buchakjian. After the explosion in the Beirut port in 2020, she raised more than USD 2.5 million for the repair of the building and restoration of artwork. Before the Sursock Museum, she led the Arab Image Foundation (AIF) for almost two decades, during which she launched the Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI), a multiyear program to preserve and promote the region’s photographic heritage.

Karroum’s tenure at Mathaf began in 2013. He organized a number of international cultural initiatives to promote Mathaf’s role in the region including “Revolution Generations” (2018–19) at Mathaf, which featured artists of multiple generations from the 1950s to the early 2000s from the Arab world, Turkey, Iran, and the diaspora; “Our World is Burning” (2020) at Palais de Tokyo in Paris; and “Moroccan Trilogy” (2021) at Madrid’s Reina Sofía National Museum of Modern Art, which examined artworks created at three pivotal moments from 1950 to present day. He also curated exhibitions at Mathaf by artists including Wael Shawky, Shakir Hassan al-Said, MF Husain, Raqs Media Collective, El Anatsui, Yto Barrada, and Huguette Caland.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.

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