My 2020: Sultan Al Qassemi

Dec 12, 2020, 03:00 AM
The worlds of academia and the arts were greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Sultan Al Qassemi, one of the most established authorities on Middle East arts and the visiting senior lecturer at the American University of Paris, speaks of how Covid-19 changed his life, and changed societies. Mr Al Qassemi is the guest for this episode of “My 2020”, where he speaks about his personal experience, and how the pandemic forced him to prepare for his two upcoming books on architecture, and also allowed him to start an “online majlis” that brought artists and audiences together all over the world.

“Covid-19 allowed me to reassess my priorities in life. It did displace me. So when I found out that this was happening, I was in Boston teaching at Boston College. And I had to fly back to the UAE and continue teaching the class online. So there was the physical displacement, there was the emotional displacement”. Mr Al Qassemi spoke about his decision to isolate at home for 155 days, “Obviously, spending time with my mother was very good for me, good for the soul, I should say. But also spending time away from friends and other family members was very difficult”. Despite what he described as the difficulties of “emotional isolation, and the physical and geographic dislocation”, Mr Al Qassemi says: “I know many people hate 2020 but I don't hate it. I realize this is part of our human experience.”
“My 2020” is a seven-part series, hosted by Mina Al-Oraibi, The National's Editor-in-Chief, speaking to leaders on how their lives and industries have been changed by Covid-19.