Jameel Prize announces first ever joint winners of the Islamic art and design award

Interior view of a prayer hall at Bait ur Rouf Mosque, Bangladesh designed by Marina Tabassum. The prayer hall features exposed brick walls, tile flooring and multiple pendant lights. There is a man dressed in white standing in front of an illuminated wall that has another wall in front with a rectangle cut out design
Prayer Hall, Bait ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2012, designed by Jameel Prize 5 joint winner Marina Tabassum. Photography: Sandro de Carlo Darsa
(Image credit: Sandro de Carlo Darsa)

Iraq-born artist Mehdi Moutashar and Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum have been announced as joint winners of the Jameel Prize 5. It is the first time two finalists have been awarded the prize, which is aimed at artists and designers who have been inspired by Islamic tradition. Fady Jameel, president of Art Jameel, presented Moutashar and Tabassum with the £25,000 prize during a ceremony at the V&A in London.

Tabassum won the judging panel over with her expressive design for the Bait ur Rouf mosque, built in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2012. Inspired by Sultanate mosque architecture, the mosque ‘breathes’ through perforated brick walls, keeping the prayer hall ventilated and cool while also creating entrancing patterns in light. ‘Light is a beautiful material to work with,’ says Tabassum. ‘If you can use it properly – how you bring in the light, the openings and apertures – I think it can make it spiritual and very contemplative.’

Installation view of Mehdi Moutashar’s black and blue geometric style works on the wall at the V&A - the space features white walls, black floors and a low white plinth displaying a piece of Moutashar’s art

Installation view of Jameel Prize 5 joint winner Mehdi Moutashar’s work at the V&A, London. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

(Image credit: TBC)

Moutashar, meanwhile, received the award for his minimalist abstract works, which have roots in Islamic geometry. Now based in Arles, the artist left Iraq in the late 1960s and settled in Paris, where he encountered forms of minimalism, including geometric abstraction, which he integrated with the Islamic traditions of his homeland.

Established in 2009 after the renovation of the V&A’s Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, the Jameel Prize is awarded every two years in partnership with Art Jameel. Previous winners include Turkish fashion label Dice Kayek, Pakistani artist Ghulam Mohammad, Algerian sculptor Rachid Koraïchi, and Iran-born artist Afruz Amighi.

An exhibition of work by the Jameel Prize 5 winners and six other shortlisted artists and designers – including Kamrooz Aram, Hayv Kahraman, Hala Kaiksow, Naqsh Collective, Younes Rahmoun and Wardha Shabbir – runs until 25 November at the V&A. The show has been curated by Tim Stanley, senior curator of the V&A’s great historical collection from the Islamic Middle East, with Salma Tuqan, the V&A’s curator of contemporary art and design from the region.


An exhibition of work by the Jameel Prize 5 finalists is on view until 25 November. For more information, visit the V&A website


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