Posted on December 12, 2018

A panel of the Berlin Wall was unveiled in the atrium of Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), in a ceremony attended by Machaille Al-Naimi, President of Community Development at Qatar Foundation (QF), Abdulrahman Al Ishaq, Head of Public Art at Qatar Museums (QM), and Ahmad Dallal, Dean of GU-Q. The installation is the result of an ongoing collaboration between QF and QM, which brought a piece of the Berlin Wall to Qatar under the Qatar-Germany 2017 Year of Culture, to be part of its robust Public Art Program.

Once forming part of the wall that divided East and West Germany for three decades, the displayed panel measures just over a meter wide, over 3.5 meters high, and 2 meters thick. The concrete is reinforced with steel bars, and covered in spray painted graffiti that conveys messages of hope, freedom and change.

In his opening remarks, Dean Ahmad Dallal noted the significance of the wall for people around the world, stating: “what happened in Germany divided German families, ruptured their society, and affected the entire world far beyond the wall. We are honored to be selected to display a piece of the Berlin Wall here in Doha.” He went on to highlight the link between education and diplomacy, saying: “As a university dedicated to training future leaders who will engage in building international relationships and conducting research that tears down walls on a number of fronts, artifacts like this remind us of the critical importance of our task as scholars and educators.”

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Mrs. Al-Naimi spoke of how the segment of the Berlin Wall, and its message, complements the 150 works that represent QF’s unique art collection, and those loaned to QF by QM, which are all on public view at Education City. “These pieces of art encourage critical thinking, creativity, and discovery,” she said. “They promote social engagement and interaction, and foster cross-cultural understanding and perspective. All of these values are at the core of QF’s mission, which is why art has such a central role in our community development efforts. We are immensely proud to host this artwork at QF, and I thank QM for enabling us to do so and for our ongoing and valued cultural collaboration.”

Abdulrahman Al Ishaq complimented QF on its contribution to the development of Qatar, and added that QM was pleased to bring this important artifact to Qatar as part of cultural cooperation under the Qatar-Germany 2017 Year of Culture.  He highlighted the important role that art plays in bringing people together across divides, and how through its partnerships and international exchange, it is pushing Qatar towards being a global leader in art and heritage. “We are excited to showcase the latest piece in QM’s Public Art Program at such a prominent and fitting site,” he said.

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“Each piece we bring goes through a careful consideration process to ensure it is placed in a setting that will help the public make a connection with its meaning and be inspired. We are grateful to QF and GU-Q for locating this historical piece on a campus where future leaders will learn to avoid such divisions in the future, something our Years of Culture initiative aims to accomplish as well.” “We hope that connecting peoples through art and creativity will help bridge any divides and are thankful to our Qatar-Germany 2017 Year of Culture partners for the opportunity to bring this historically significant piece to Doha.”

Gerd Nonneman, Professor of Government at GU-Q, also spoke, summarizing the political geography of the wall, offering some take away messages on walls and barriers in today’s context. The painful cost of walls that divide families took a personal turn with words from Kai Henrik-Barth, Senior Assistant Dean for Research Support at GU-Q, and his spouse Katrin Scholz-Barth, who shared their experiences living on opposite sides of the divide. The wall, which was both a physical barrier and an ideological divide, was finally torn down in 1989. It became the symbolic end of the Cold War, uniting Germany for the first time since 1945.

The Berlin Wall section is available for public viewing in the Georgetown atrium in Education City.