‘I wanted each poster to show celebration and football fandom in Qatar’
Showcasing Qatar’s passion for football and family was the goal of Bouthayna Al Muftah – the Official Poster artist for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
The Qatari has produced a series of eight posters ahead of the tournament, which will be the first to take place in the Middle East and Arab world from 21 November to 18 December.
Bouthayna’s main poster depicts the traditional headwear worn by Qatari men being thrown in the air – something which symbolises celebration and football fandom across the Arab world. The Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar graduate has also produced seven supporting posters that showcase the country’s passion for both football and family.
Photo credit: Osman Ahmed
Known for her monochromatic aesthetic, Bouthayna’s style is heavily reflected in her FIFA World Cup™ posters. Her previous work includes painting, photography, printmaking and typography, along with large-scale installations and performance pieces.
Ahead of today’s Official Poster unveiling at Hamad International Airport, we sat down with Bouthayna to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at creating a piece of art that is set to inspire and excite football fans in Qatar, the region and around the world.
Tell us a bit about your background and how your passion for art began.
Since childhood, I’ve always been interested in art. It started as a hobby and became my passion. After high school, I enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University, which had recently been established at Qatar Foundation. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to receive a world-class art education in my home country and went on to major in graphic design.
How did you get involved with the Official Poster project?
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy reached out to local artists offering the opportunity to take part in World Cup projects. I got very excited to get involved and leave my mark on the first World Cup in our region. I actually found out about the project during the pandemic – so I used the free time I had to plan and come up with a unique concept. I am beyond proud to be playing a small part in the tournament.
Talk us through the inspiration behind the Official Poster.
My main inspiration was the concept of collective memory. Most of my work focuses on past experiences, memories, tying them to the present and archiving them in a contemporary manner. I wanted the posters to follow this theme and tell the story of Qatar’s football culture.
I wanted each poster to show celebration and football fandom in Qatar. The main poster depicts the ‘gutra’ and ‘egal’ [traditional headwear] being waved in the air in a celebratory manner – which is something fans do here when a goal is scored. In another poster, we see two sisters cheering their brother as he skillfully kicks the ball in the air – it shows that football in Qatar brings the whole family together.
How does it feel, as a Qatari artist, to take part in a project for the first World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world?
The feeling is indescribable. I feel like I represent every Qatari and every Arab. I am beyond proud to leave my mark on this incredible milestone in my country’s history. To be able to work on a World Cup project still seems surreal. I hope I can represent my country in the best way possible.
How do you hope people will receive and interpret your artwork?
I really hope the posters resonate with people in Qatar, the region and around the world. I hope fans will approve of the work and that it contributes to the overall success of the tournament. I really hope fans can see the effort I put into it, and I hope the audience understands the messages I’m trying to convey.
How do you define the relationship between art and sport?
Art and sport have a very solid relationship. Art in all its forms is integrated in different parts of sport, be it through music, chants, trends and costumes. The movement of athletes is another form of art – and this is something I also tried to reflect in the posters.
How will you feel when the poster is seen by football fans around the world?
I will be very happy and ecstatic once the posters are revealed to the public. But more importantly, I hope they resonate with both local and international fans.