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Representing Transition: Fatma Al Shebani Bridges Tradition and Modernity Through Her Art




Few countries have undergone such rapid and dramatic transformation in such a short period of time as Qatar, a former British territory that, in just a few decades, developed from an overlooked backwater situated on the Persian Gulf to the wealthiest country in the world per capita. Likewise, few artists have captured the essence of this metamorphosis, both in its celebration of change and its retention of tradition, as masterfully as Fatma Al Shebani.

Al Shebani’s career took off after the artist decided to leave teaching for good in 2007. An untimely divorce granted her the opportunity to explore her own future in ways previously unconsidered. In 1994, Al Shebani received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Qatar University and quickly established her unique voice, developing a style that bridges time itself to reflect the ethos of a society in transition.

Al Shebani’s preferred mediums include resin, bronze, and stainless steel; strong materials that mirror the internal strength of the many powerful women in her life. As a child, she would often visit the metal and concrete factory her father owned and managed, forming, from a young age, a special relationship with these various elements. Through them, Al Shebani brings wondrous visions and dreams to life. Generally, her work seeks to crystalize memories of the past and its traditions in a style that reflects the contemporary realities of Qatari life.

The concept of clothing as a lens through which one experiences culture re-emerges time and time again through her portfolio. In her ‘Bokhnaq’ series, Al Shebani reimagines the traditional garb of young girls to create statues that capture the essence of childhood, reinforcing this idea by positioning the figures in settings that add to the sense of freedom, play, and child-like joy inherent in the pieces. Her ‘Batoula’ sculptures transplant intimate memories from childhood into the present, specifically when Al Shebani would peek under the batoula of her mother or grandmother to look and touch their faces and connect with a part of their identities reserved only for those closest to them. 

Together, the two series paint a visceral portrait of traditional imaginings of Qatari womanhood: the cultural dress of women both before and after marriage; outward expressions of identity as one transitions from youth into adulthood. In this sense, Al Shebani’s work acts to preserve memory. She succeeds in reimagining tradition in a form that reflects the contemporary reality of Doha’s shimmering skyline of towering steel skyscrapers; in a form more palatable to audiences of the 21st century.

Other works draw direct inspiration from interpretations of Qatari nationhood. Al Adiyat 9 reproduces the words of the Quran’s surah Al Adiyat in the form of sculpture, while simultaneously illustrating the experience of Qatar as a nation racing quickly into its own notions of modernity. Commissioned to honor the drafting of the country’s 2004 constitution. Al Adiyat 9 serves as a powerful testament to the speed of Qatar’s development, the proud history her people have managed to bring into the present, as well as the boundless opportunities that still lie ahead.

Born into a generation destined to bridge the gap between tradition and modernity, Al Shebani has emerged as one of the most prolific Qatari artists of the past 20 years. She has solidified her role as a sort of ‘voice of the nation’, offering the people of Qatar, through her art, a powerful narrative that reflects both the challenges and promises of prosperity that have come to characterize the country’s collective experience of the past 50 years.

To learn more about Fatma Al Shebani and her work, reach out on social media.

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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From Wealth to Fields: A Billionaire’s Commitment to Small Farmers




In recent years, billionaire Stefan Soloviev has transitioned from the world of New York real estate to the fertile farmlands of the American West. 

His journey from urban wealth to rural development showcases a unique dedication to revitalizing small farming communities and transforming the agricultural landscape.

A New Vision for Agriculture

Stefan Soloviev, son of the late real estate tycoon Sheldon Solow, has amassed a considerable amount of farmland across Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico. Soloviev’s agricultural enterprise, Crossroads Agriculture, spans over 400,000 acres, making him one of the largest landowners in the United States. 

This substantial investment is not merely a financial venture; it represents a commitment to supporting and empowering small farmers in these regions.

Soloviev’s approach to farming is characterized by his desire to move away from competitive practices that often leave small farmers struggling. Instead, he emphasizes collaboration and sustainability. 

By leveraging his resources, Soloviev aims to create a farming environment where smallholders can thrive alongside larger operations. This philosophy is particularly evident in his strategic acquisition of the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad, a critical transportation link for agricultural products in the region.

Revitalizing Rural Communities

Soloviev’s impact extends beyond farmland acquisition. His purchase of the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad at a bankruptcy auction for $10.7 million highlights his broader vision for the agricultural sector. 

This railroad, previously owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings, connects the San Luis Valley to the national rail network, facilitating the efficient transport of goods and boosting local economies.

The acquisition is seen as a positive development for the San Luis Valley, with Soloviev’s Colorado Pacific Railroad expected to be more community-focused and supportive of local initiatives compared to the previous owners. This includes potential cooperation with local recreational projects, such as the proposed Heart of the Valley Trail, which aims to integrate rail and trail use for community benefit.

Soloviev’s dedication to the region is also reflected in his willingness to work with local stakeholders to address community needs. His approach contrasts with more traditional, profit-driven business models and underscores his commitment to fostering a sustainable and inclusive agricultural ecosystem.

Building a Sustainable Future

Soloviev’s investment in the Colorado Pacific Railroad and the broader agricultural infrastructure is part of a long-term vision to create a more resilient and sustainable farming community. By improving transportation networks and providing support to small farmers, he hopes to mitigate some of the challenges these farmers face, such as market access and transportation costs.

Moreover, Soloviev’s initiatives are seen as a way to preserve and enhance the rural way of life, which is increasingly threatened by industrial farming and urban encroachment. His efforts to balance economic viability with environmental stewardship demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the complexities of modern agriculture.

In conclusion, Stefan Soloviev’s transition from urban real estate mogul to a champion of small farmers is a testament to his innovative and community-oriented approach. 

His significant investments in farmland and infrastructure, coupled with a commitment to sustainability and local engagement, are paving the way for a brighter future for small farmers in Colorado and beyond. Through his efforts, Soloviev is not only transforming

the agricultural landscape but also setting a precedent for how wealth and resources can be used to foster positive change in rural communities​. 

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