I was delighted to have the opportunity to sketch this panel as I have been keen to meet the moderator – Qatari cartoonist Abdulaziz Yousef. I am also interested in the topic of entrepreneurship and Qatari youth, so I didn’t want to miss this session at QITCOM.
Coming directly from the Jim McKelvey talk and being so happy with my bravery at sketching a more realistic person, I decided to try to sketch Abdulaziz – this was a little more intimidating given his artistic prowess, but I gave it a whirl. Abdulaziz commented in response to my sketch on Twitter: “@JennJennQatar thank you for the more handsome me :p” which I took as a compliment! I also attempted to sketch the rest of the panel, but perhaps to the detriment of capturing more content.
Speaking of the content of this discussion, the other attendees I spoke with agreed that this panel discussion was a missed opportunity. It was surface-level without any real debate or stimulating consideration of the topic. I felt that Fouad Mrad’s contributions had the potential to open more critical discussion, but as with many public discussions in Qatar, speakers are often hesitant to speak freely about issues that may be construed as controversial or critical. This is unfortunate because at least one audience member tried to ask a critical question about the impact of religious traditions on entrepreneurship, but aside from a few short statements from Mrad, the conversation was cut short. Mrad assured the audience member that his question was well-taken and that this forum was indeed a venue for critical thought and debate, but the discussion ended there.
My notes are revealing in this sense – you can see how sparse they are given that there were 4 panelists and audience questions. Compare this sketch to the previous plenaries, and there is an obvious difference between what I was able to capture. Even considering that I spent a little more time on sketching the panelists, this sketch is a fairly accurate representation of how little there was in the way of “take-away” from this panel. There were, of course, personal examples and other details that I missed, but what was the big picture?
This is not to take away from the contributions of the panelists. Each of the panelists had an interesting story to tell, and perhaps with more time and a little more encouragement (a smaller venue perhaps?), they might have been able to engage in more frank and critical discussion about pertinent issues related to promoting a culture of entrepreneurship in Qatar. I look forward to future events such as this one where such discussions might evolve and provide even more inspiration and food for thought.