Seven thousand miles from its home campus in Evanston, Illinois, USA, Northwestern University dedicated its new state-of-the-art media and communication building on its campus in Qatar.

Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of the Qatar Foundation and visionary behind Education City, Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and Dean Everette E. Dennis spoke at a series of events held in the new building.

Referencing his tour of NU-Q’s new building, President Schapiro said: “This is everything you can dream about.”

He added: “As President of Northwestern, I can tell you, nothing makes me prouder than to have a campus here in Doha producing graduates who are skilled in journalism, filmmaking, and communication and carry the name of our university far and wide as they use their skills for the betterment of mankind.”

Designed by American architect Antoine Predock, NU-Q’s LEED Gold certified building is designed to embody architectural elements from Qatar’s desert landscape and local culture. At 515,000 square feet, the NU-Q building is three times the size of its previous home and the largest institution of its kind anywhere in the world.

“Northwestern’s new building offers not just modern media teaching and production facilities unique to the region, but a platform for creativity that our students will use to experiment, create, and dream,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO. “Educating our students to harness the power of the digital age, will enable them to act as instruments of positive social change and make a significant impact on their societies.”

At the dedication ceremony held at NU-Q, President Schapiro and Dean Dennis presented a gift to Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in recognition of her leadership in the creation of Education City and the role of Northwestern University within that vision. The gift, Painting for Doha, was commissioned from Judy Ledgerwood, a professor of art at Northwestern University. Ledgerwood is known for her monumental abstractions and powerful use of color, pattern, and scale.


Inspired by the country’s landscape and local culture, the intricate designs in the building speak to the majesty of the desert, with the structure designed to integrate perfectly with it.

The building includes an events hall, which is also the largest sound-stage in the region; a projection theater, which features a 4K cinema and 7.1 Dolby surround sound; three production studios, each fitted out to serve a specific purpose; and a studio that has been designed to allow students to reproduce everyday sound effects that are added to film, video, and other multimedia projects; and a 4K mastering room, which is equipped to completely edit a digital cinema-quality film.

On the outside of the building, overlooking the main entrance is a large LED media-mesh screen – the Saif Tip. Saif means sword in Arabic and the location of the screen resembles two swords about to meet. In addition, inside the building, there will be a three-story media wall with multiple screens that will work with the Saif Tip in providing information through videos and images.

Within the building is a newsroom, which is scheduled to be completed over the summer. It will feature the most advanced technology in broadcast and production. Designed by Beirut architect Ali Wazani, the space includes all of the components of major broadcast news studio – a news desk, an area for panel discussions, and a social media screen. Using a feed from live newswires, students will have access to information to transform into stories, graphics, and other digital visualization elements. It will have its own control room, with the ability to produce live reports across multiple platforms.


Earlier in the day, Northwestern hosted a symposium – Shaping Our Future – which featured a series of conversations, discussion panels, and a showcase of student research, short films, and documentaries.

“A New Home for Northwestern in Qatar: A Conversation with Antoine Predock” was moderated by Dean Dennis. It was an opportunity for the NU-Q community to learn more about Predock’s vision and inspiration in designing the school’s new home

In “Pushing the Boundaries: Making the Building Work for Us,” Banu Akdenizli, associate professor at NU-Q, led a panel discussion on the potential and capabilities of the building for students and faculty. Rawda Al Thani, an NU-Q alum and film programming assistant at the Doha Film Institute, joined the Director of NU-Q’s Communication Program, Scott Curtis,and NU-Q’s Director of Production and Digital Media Services Geoff Cannaby.

Craig LaMay, associate professor in the Journalism and Strategic Communication Program at NU-Q, led the third session “NU-QF Partnership: Fostering Freedom and Respecting Cultures.” The session featured Northwestern alumni and NU-Q Class of 2017’s graduation speaker, Derek Thomspon, a best-selling author and senior editor at The Atlantic, along with NU-Q alums Ismaeel Naar, online journalist and shift editor at Al Arabiya news channel; Najwa Al Thani, researcher in international cooperation at the National Human Rights Committee Qatar; and Ibrahim Al Hashmi.