Tasmeem Doha is a biennial international conference focusing on unique and contemporary themes in art and design. The 2015 edition focused on the theme of "playfulness" as expressed by the Arabizi word 3ajeeb! (ahh-jhee-b) meaning "strange in a strange way, cool in a cool way, and slightly weird in a slightly weird way".

I, along with 3 other co-chairs (Simone MuscolinoRichard Lomard, & Levi Hammett), conceived, planned, managed, and implemented a weeklong academic conference in the form of an art & design festival to explore multidisciplinary themes related to playfulness, collaboration, interaction, rapid prototyping, and learning through making. The conference brought together 40+ practicing artists, designers, and creative thinkings & makers from around the world to Doha, Qatar. The invited practitioners collaborated with students and faculty from around the Arabic Gulf region (and from over 50 different Nationalities) to create live events, performances, and interactive installations that were open to the Qatar Foundation community and general public.

Two of the most distinctive aspects of Tasmeem '3ajeeb!' was developing a unique theme (bridging local & international cultures) to foster participants to engage in shared dialog, and using this theme to completely redefine and redesign the structure of a 'conference' allowing new forms of exchange to happen, and new methods of dissemination to occur. 

The co-chairs developed six areas for investigation; (1) a response to a condition — a Middle Eastern culture that does not value idiosyncrasy or unconventional thinking — can themes of play be used as a method for making, ideation, cross-cultural exchange; (2) formulate plans of action in unique ways that hand not been attempted previously; (3) look past conference, global/local trends, and playful innovations has precedent; (4) identify possible dissemination streams; (5) develop and employ systems and structures allow the event to take shape through emergent human interactions; and (6) design spaces (online and physical) for outcomes to be exhibited (social media apps, real-time image archives, and 25 short films available online, etc).

Photographs by:
Omer Mohammad, Markus Elblaus & Richard Lombard

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