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Mathaf: Online Encyclopedia of Arab Artists

Now in its beta phase, Qatar has just launched what's set to be the most comprehensive database of Middle Eastern art.

Art continues to be a major inspiration for Middle Eastern culture and architecture. Sadly, all too often artists who should be treasured as national icons are often forgotten as most Arab countries do a poor job with documenting artists and their works. Looking to change that is a new site website called Mathaf Encycloped​ia of Modern Art and the Arab World (MEMAAW). The website is a collaborative effort between Qatar Museums and the Qatar Foundation and aims to become a major resource for Arab artists and art history in the region.

Initiated by H.E. Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani, Mathaf has established a commission of scholars and independent researchers to write encyclopedia entries/biographies under the direction of Professor Nada Shabout, who acts as the Director of Research at the organisation.

The Encyclopedia is still a work in progress and is mainly focusing on including all artists from the Mathaf's permanent collection with the ultimate goal of adding Arab artists beyond their collection. Still in its infancy the website is set to be a valuable resource for art curators all around the world, and in time may inspire future artists from all across the region.

Here are five Egyptian artists who's works have been added to the Encyclopedia

Ragheb Ayad (1892-1982)

Inji Efflatoun (1924-1989)


Adam Henein (1929-present)

Youssef Kamel (1891-1971)

Adham Wanly (1908 - 1959) 

To learn more about these and other Arab artists check out Mathaf for complete bios and work here.