NU-Q alumna brings Qatari traditions to life through animation

September 11, 2017

Latifa Al Darwish, who graduated from Northwestern University in Qatar in 2013, had her abstract animation film, Yaoum Al Om showcased at the TRANSITION art exhibition, organized by Reconnecting Arts, at the Menier Gallery in London. The film, co-produced with Qatari cartoonist Abdulaziz Yousef, was part of a series of short informative videos called Ayooz News, which uses abstract animation to send an important message in celebration of Mother’s Day. 

“I’ve worked on several animation projects throughout the past few years, and most of them were related to raising awareness about an important social issue,” said Al Darwish, “I think it’s important to use my communications skills to spread messages that will improve my community and bring positive change.”  

Al Darwish graduated from NU-Q with a degree in communication. As an undergraduate she explored various forms of storytelling and research, and took courses in animation, filmmaking, screenwriting, and the history of film. Everything she learned in the classroom she continues to apply to her everyday work.   

“The most valuable thing I learned at NU-Q is how to be a student in life,” said Al Darwish, “to continue to seek knowledge and education because, ultimately, that is how people develop, improve, and grow.”

Al Darwish is passionate about animation because it allows her to tell stories and revive traditional Qatari tales through creative work. Her first professional venture into the world of production began when she worked with JeemTV, an Arabic children’s channel. She also worked on a national road safety awareness campaign, Wransade, which targets Qatari youth through catchy animated videos that address some of their driving habits in a light-hearted way. Wransade was a joint initiative by Qatari animators Abdulaziz Yousef and Rashid Al-Kuwari.

Al Darwish recently completed her master’s degree in culture and creative industry from Kings College in London. She now works as a communication specialist for the Ministry of Defense, focusing her efforts on developing communication strategies to better inform the general public of the ministry’s achievements, mission, and vision.

Al Darwish was awarded a Qatari Film Fund from Doha Film Institute to produce a short film on anecdotal stories from Qatari culture. Her upcoming film, Ya Hootah, is currently in pre-production, set to be completed next year.

Looking ahead, Al Darwish hopes to continue producing creative content to give Qataris a voice in the world of animation and to use her skills as a storyteller to make a difference in her community and the world. “Storytelling is a form of entertainment that is extremely powerful because it could change people's perspectives, influence their behavior, and open their eyes to new ideas,” said Al Darwish.