I've just come back from an incredible 5 days out in Doha, Qatar. I was asked by OFFF director Héctor to take part in an event he was co-curating out there, called 'Tasmeem 3ajeeb'. It was a week long festival, taking place at VCUQatar, which is the Virginia Commonwealth University. The week consisted of workshops, talks, activities and one of those days was a day filled with OFFF-curated speakers, and that was how I got involved (as I am very excitedly speaking at OFFF in Barcelona in May!).
It really was the most brilliant 5 days - the place itself is like nothing I've ever seen, the scale of all the new buildings is staggering and the architecture is so impressive, everything is totally different. It's also very. very warm, it was lovely!
The conference was really, really good fun - we were all made to feel so welcome and everyone's talks were really inspirational to listen to. The OFFF day had a great line-up: Sougwen, Jan De Coster, myself, Mucho, Steve Simpson & Hungry Castle.
The Mucho boys presented the titles that they'd created for the festival too, and they're a beauty, check them out below! Each persons graphic represents the different kind of work they produce:
I was really happy how my talk went down and I got the chance to speak to some of the students afterwards and they were lovely! They have fantastic facilities at VCU and they're really taking advantage of them all, with the Tasmeem conference really pushing all mediums and all sorts of techniques!
The day after OFFF we took some time to hang out, grab some lunch, and I explored the Souq Waqif a little more (where our gorgeous hotel was).
One part of the Souq was the falcon shops! Yeap, a shop where they sell falcons! It's a big thing out in Qatar apparently, I even saw a young boy walk past me with one on his arm. I was too taken aback with surprise to ask him for a photo though!
On the last day we were all treated to a trip into the desert, and what a trip it was! A convoy of 20 Land Cruisers took us 45 minutes out of the city where the road ended and the sand began. We stopped for all the cars to let their tyres down, before setting off into the dunes, with the convoy weaving in and out of the terrain, drifting round corners and speeding through straights, it was so much fun (shout out to our driver who really showing us his driving skills!).
We stopped at the edge of a huge dune, where everyone sprinted down and then struggled to get back up! After the brief interlude, we got back in the cars and were driven to the edge of the desert, by the sea, where we all stayed to enjoy some food, music and the sun set. We then set off in the dark and drove back into the centre of Doha.
It was a really special trip, everyone had such a great time it was such a bonding experience, big thank you to the VCUQatar guys for organising it, it was something I'll never forget! Here's some snaps from the desert...
I shot a bunch of stuff on my phone whilst we were in the desert too, all using the 240fps feature, because I knew we'd get some fun stuff with the sand moving about. I made a short film from that footage when we got back, in the hotel room, just on my phone. I was really happy with how it turned out, check it out below!
That's where my Doha trip comes to an end. I had an absolutely fantastic time; the people, the place, the culture, it was really great to be in the middle of it all. A huge thank you to Héctor from OFFF and the VCUQatar co-chairs for getting me involved, it's been a real honour.
Thank you for making me feel welcome Doha!