An interactive pavilion by The Media Majlis reimagines the notion of a majlis at Design Doha

March 02, 2024

The Media Majlis at Northwestern Qatar takes center stage at Qatar’s landmark biennial dedicated to creative innovation, Doha Design, as it explores the concept of the traditional Arabian majlis in its interactive public pavilion, “Anatomy of a Majlis.” 

Designed by award-winning Kuwaiti architecture studio fortytwelve, “Anatomy of a Majlis” explores the concept of the majlis, a traditional sitting and gathering place within the Arab world inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015. The interactive pavilion serves as a platform for visitors to engage with the majlis as a living tradition and explores the various ways it continues to facilitate community engagement across social, political, and economic spheres, both in the past and the present.

Jack Thomas Taylor, associate curator and manager of exhibition planning at The Media Majlis, is the curator of the pavilion. By centering the majlis in his project, he hopes to inspire discussion around key design topics of the day within a local cultural context. “Despite its widespread recognition, the majlis remains elusive, embodying a paradox: it is pervasive in the Arab world, influencing design across disciplines, and yet defies simple categorization,” said Thomas Taylor. “‘Anatomy of a Majlis’ serves as a reevaluation to prompt visitors to consider how this traditional space can inspire architectural forms and promote deeper community engagement in contemporary Qatar, as it continues to play a crucial role across spheres.”

As part of the pavilion, The Media Majlis will host several activities in the four days of the Design Doha, including a collaboration with local coffee shop Earth and a free-play computer gaming area where audiences can relax and have fun. For two days, audiences will also be able to receive a self-portrait artwork created by world-renowned photographer, visual artist, and creative director Marta Lamovsek.

"We are thrilled to see The Media Majlis taking such an active role in advancing the realm of imagination to deep-rooted culture, history, and the hotbed of traditional communication—the Majlis," said Marwan M. Kraidy, dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar. “The  role of The Media Majlis as part of Northwestern University in Qatar is vital in promoting understanding and dialogue, and initiatives such as 'Anatomy of a Majlis' exemplify how cultural spaces can serve as catalysts for meaningful interactions and exploration of tradition in contemporary contexts."

Similarly, Alfredo Cramerotti, director of The Media Majlis, said, “We are very proud and excited to be part of the inaugural Design Doha,” He added, “It is events like these that will continue pushing the boundaries of what the region’s creatives can achieve, giving burgeoning talent an important platform and putting Qatar on the global design map.”

Design Doha, which opened for the first time on February 24 and will run for a week, is a landmark biennial dedicated to creative innovation. It aims to foster the design culture of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as create a space of design excellence in Qatar.

In its first year, Glenn Adamson, art director of the Doha Design, will lead the four-day fair held at Msheireb Downtown Doha. It will also encompass several exhibitions of work from various design practices and site-specific commissions by international artists such as South Korea-based designer Choi Byung Hoon and Dutch talent Joris Laarman.

For more information about “Anatomy of a Majlis” and Design Doha, click here.