Desert bloom: Qatar’s cultural transformation in pictures

Our visual essay by Wallpaper’s photography editor Sophie Gladstone explores Qatar’s rapidly evolving cultural and creative scene

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

From a monumental Richard Serra installation in the desert to a 40,000-seat fully demountable stadium, Qatar sets the bar high for contemporary art, architecture and design. Ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, we visit the Gulf state to witness the latest chapter of its cultural transformation.

Discover our visual diary here.

Richard Serra installation

East-West/West-East, 2014, by Richard Serra. Located in the Brouq nature reserve, this sculpture comprises four large steel plates nestled between limestone rock formations

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

Fifa world cup stadium

Fenwick Iribarren Architects’ Stadium 974 was built for the 2022 Fifa World Cup using recycled steel and repurposed shipping containers. Fully demountable, it is designed to be transported to a new location or turned into a series of smaller venues

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

Corvette outside museum

AAP’s Outlaw V6 Corvette drag racer on display at the Jean Nouvel-designed National Museum of Qatar, part of a preview of the exhibits that will feature in the upcoming Qatar Auto Museum, designed by OMA

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

LED lights installation

Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You, 2022, by Pipilotti Rist. The Swiss artist’s new immersive video installation at the National Museum of Qatar symbolises humanity’s collective unconscious and features 12,000 LED lights strung on cables throughout the gallery

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)


A classic caftan in silk organza by the Qatari fashion designer Wadha Al Hajri hangs in the Wadha boutique at the National Museum of Qatar

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

green building

Located in a historic midcentury building that once housed a girls’ school, Liwan Design Studios in Msheireb is a new creative hub dedicated to supporting the local design community

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

turquoise sculpture

Turquoise City, 2021, by Mark Handforth. Made of urban and industrial waste, this site-specific piece in Msheireb, downtown Doha, is inspired by the brightly coloured ceramics found in the city’s Museum of Islamic Art

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

Qatar National Library

Designed by OMA, the new Qatar National Library opened in 2018. Made of the same white marble as the floor, its bookshelves incorporate lighting, ventilation and the book return system. At the centre of the building is a 6m-deep excavated space, clad in beige travertine and housing the library’s heritage collection

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)

rocks in desert

The Brouq nature reserve, or Ras Abrouq, is located an hour’s drive from Doha, on Qatar’s west coast. It is known for its mushroom-shaped rock formations, cliffs and beach

(Image credit: Sophie Gladstone)


A version of this article appears in the June issue of Wallpaper*. Subscribe today!

As Photography Editor at Wallpaper*, Sophie Gladstone commissions across fashion, interiors, architecture, travel, art, entertaining, beauty & grooming, watches & jewellery, transport and technology. Gladstone also writes about and researches contemporary photography. Alongside her creative commissioning process, she continues her art practice as a photographer, for which she was recently nominated for the Foam Paul Huf Award. And in recognition of her work to date, listed by the British Journal of Photography as ‘One to Watch’.

With contributions from