September 11, 2023

Learning the Art of Arabic Calligraphy in Qatar

If you've ever admired the beauty and aesthetics of Arabic calligraphy and thought it would be nice to be able to write with such style, then you're in luck. We have compiled a list of places in Doha that offer calligraphy workshops and courses to teach you to do just that!

Arabic Calligraphy

Calligraphy, reserved initially for religious texts, is an elaborate cursive and visually artistic writing style practised for thousands of years. Though believed to have its origins in China, calligraphy has, throughout history, been used across the globe, from Europe to Southeast Asia, the Americas to Africa, Asia to the Middle East, and beyond. 

Arabic calligraphy is thought to date from the 7th century, developing alongside Islam and the Arabic language. Indeed, based on Arabic letters, the writing was developed by calligraphers to transcribe the Qur'an. The earliest form of the script was known as Kulfic writing, though a variety of other script styles are used, such as Naskh, Diwani, Raq'a, Nasta'liq and Thuluth.

While the most prominent use for Arabic calligraphy is in religious texts, the script is also used for decorative purposes on pottery and ceramics, textiles, coins, flags, architecture, and, especially since the late 20th century, modern and abstract art.

In Qatar, you can find examples of calligraphy in many places. Museums house ancient manuscripts showing impressive examples of the earliest forms of Arabic calligraphy. Art museums exhibit Islamic art that depicts the historical journey of calligraphy up to its representation in modern art. Mosques and various buildings incorporate the ornate script into their construction or as a decorative addition celebrating Islam or cultural identity. You can even find a plethora of calligraphy-based artworks all over Doha city, from sculptures and water features to murals and graffiti art. 

However, if you want to get hands-on with this beautiful writing style, sign up for an Arabic calligraphy workshop or course. From studying the basics and learning to write your name to advanced lessons, classes that teach historical context, and tutorials that guide in the use of calligraphy in visual arts, you can delve into this fascinating script on many levels. Check out the following venues that offer courses and workshops to help you on your way:

Embrace Doha

Image: Facebook

Embrace Doha is an independent multicultural organisation with a mission to promote, preserve and celebrate Qatari heritage, culture and traditions, to encourage cross-cultural understanding between Qataris and expats, and to bridge the gap between the differing communities. By providing organised authentic Qatari cultural experiences, workshops and events for non-locals, they hope to foster a deeper appreciation of the host nation's customs, lifestyle and values. And, of course, when in Rome…

At Embrace, you can opt to discover the intricacies of Arabic coffee ceremonies, the significance of the Majlis (a sitting room) and the nuances of Majlis etiquette, attend sessions on the nature of Ramadan, learn how to weave traditional Sadu cloth, make Bakhoor (incense) or handcrafted leather goods, join Souq (a Middle Eastern marketplace) or food tours, or learn the craft of Arabic calligraphy. 

Arabic calligraphy classes are held alongside most other sessions and courses in Souq Wakrah - a traditional-style coastal marketplace in Al Wakrah (just south of Doha's city limits). The venue is styled on a typical Qatari house, a single-storey, flat-roofed building made from limestone, mud, gravel and a render finish. Inside the building has a central majlis, with low cushioned areas and wooden benches, Sadu cloth cushions, rugs and wall hangings, Persian carpets and other traditional decor. 

The Arabic calligraphy classes are designed to teach you the art form's history, how to use traditional writing utensils, and how to form the letters of your name. The regularly run, hands-on workshops are two hours long and accept a maximum of 10 participants. If you are interested in learning this beautiful artistic discipline, reserve yourself a spot in a class through the contact details below:  

Location: 157 Souq Al Wakrah, Al Wakrah

Location Map: Embrace Doha

Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 9 am - 5 pm; Friday and Saturday, Closed

Fees: From QAR 500 per person

Contacts: +974 5006 4472

[email protected]


Instagram: @embracedoha

Facebook: @EmbraceDoha

Museum of Islamic Art

Image: MIA

The Museum of Islamic Art, located on a manmade island connected to Doha's waterfront Corniche, is one of Qatar's most recognisable venues. With five floors of ascending geometric blocks culminating in a central tower, arched walkways, open-air courtyards, water features and two minaret-like structures adorning the museum's jetty, it is an awe-inspiring building that epitomises modern architecture that embraces ancient Islamic design.

Aside from being an architectural spectacle, MIA houses Islamic art from over fourteen centuries - one of the world's most significant collections. The museum's galleries host collections of early Islamic art from the 7th century to more recent eras. The exhibitions stem from three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) and as far and wide as Iran, Central Asia, Egypt, Syria, Turkey and India, and cover, amongst other things, Islamic calligraphy. Indeed, the museum hosts a Calligraphy Tour for visitors who have a keen interest in this type of art - the collection includes paper, prints, drawings, glassware, woodwork, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery, textiles and manuscripts.

However, if you want to learn in a more hands-on way, the museum also offers relatively regular, free Arabic calligraphy workshops. The most popular calligraphy workshop is the Diwani for Beginners - a cursive form of Arabic calligraphy, using reed pens of varying thickness to achieve the script's elegant shapes and elongations. Workshops at the museum, which are also run for various other art forms and skills (sculpture, pottery, painting, drawing, geometric art), are generally hosted in the venue's art workshop, library, seminar or debriefing rooms. To find out more, check out the MIA website 'What's On' pages and register online for workshops.

Location: Al Corniche Street, Doha

Location Map: Museum of Islamic Art

Opening Hours: Saturday to Thursday, 9 am - 7 pm; Friday, 1:30 pm - 7 pm

Fees: Free

Contacts: +974 4422 4444

[email protected]


Instagram: @miaqatar

Facebook: @MIAQatar

Katara Cultural Village

Image: Shutterstock/ZheniaPerutska

Katara Cultural Village is a venue for the arts and multicultural activities celebrating Qatar and other global cultures. Indeed, the village is home to art galleries, a museum, theatres, an opera house and many other cultural institutions, where international festivals, performances, exhibitions and workshops can be held. Aesthetically, Katara was built to reflect and celebrate global architecture with traditional-style Middle Eastern buildings, a Greek-style amphitheatre, Ottoman-style mosques, and European plazas constructed around traditionally cooled winding streets and alleyways.

Among the film showings, live performances, music and dancing, art exhibitions, heritage and cultural events, and festivals, the venue hosts many workshops and courses centred around the arts, social development, business, and culture and tradition, including Arabic calligraphy.

More often than not, Katara Art Studios, Building 19, hosts the venue's Arabic calligraphy workshops. Instruction is given using traditional writing tools on the basics of Arabic calligraphy for several script styles, as well as its decorative art possibilities. Courses are hosted relatively sporadically, but keeping an eye on Katara's website and social media pages will allow you to take advantage of the activities as they are advertised.

Location: Katara Cultural Village, Doha

Location Map: Katara Cultural Village

Opening Hours: Sunday to Monday, 24 hours

Fees: Various

Contacts: +974 4408 0000

[email protected]


Instagram: @kataraqatar

Facebook: @KataraQatar

Souq Waqif Art Centre

Image: Souq Waqif Art Centre

Souq Waqif is a traditional Arabian-style open-air market. However, it is a recent addition to Doha in its current format (the roots of the original souq can be traced back to the 17th century). With traditional mud-clad buildings and alleyways running like a maze throughout, you can find a host of shops on either side of the narrow passageways that sell and offer a multitude of wares, from bright-coloured clothing and fabric, gold, spices, and Oud perfumes to Persian antiques, trinkets and souvenirs. Along the main strip through the souq, where the streets are wider, you can also find an array of cafes and restaurants, boutique hotels, art galleries and the Souq Waqif Art Centre.

The Art Centre is housed in a beautiful venue, two stories with individual art studios set round a long, thin central atrium bedecked with tiled columns, wooden beams and balustrades, traditional Middle Eastern lanterns and an array of artworks. The centre aims to promote and exhibit art, which reflects Qatari heritage and tradition, and to encourage, support and develop artists. Indeed, each studio at the centre offers space to resident artists and hosts workshops and courses for the local community in varying art forms, drawing, painting, sculpture and Arabic calligraphy.

The Arabic calligraphy workshops at the Art Centre focus on calligraphy as a decorative art form, teaching students the techniques and tools used to create geometric patterns and calligraphy scripts on various media. While the courses in calligraphy are relatively sporadic, it is worth keeping an eye on the centre's social media pages to spot workshops when they're advertised, if only to work in such an inspiring artists' haven.

Location: Souq Waqif, Al Corniche, Doha

Location Map: Souq Waqif Art Center

Opening Hours: Saturday to Thursday, 8 am - 2 pm, 4 pm - 10 pm; Friday, 4 pm - 10 pm

Fees: Free

Contacts: +974 4417 6204

[email protected]


Instagram: @souqwaqif_artcenter

Facebook: @souqwaqifartcenter

Qatar Foundation

Image: Muslihat

Qatar Foundation (QF) is a not-for-profit organisation in Education City created to drive and support education, research, innovation and social development in Qatar while promoting and preserving Qatari culture. QF operates out of Education City - over 12 sqm of grounds that incorporate branch campuses of some of the world's leading educational institutes, a homegrown university, and other research, academic, and community centres. 

As part of the many programmes and initiatives QF design and support to achieve their educational, intellectual, economic and social development, the organisation offers workshops, webinars, classes and courses, lectures, and events - open to the general public. The activities are designed for all ages, and subjects range from arts and crafts, digital communication and technology, music, language, maths, and science to sport, health and childcare, to name but a few. On occasion, the Foundation also offers Arabic calligraphy courses. The courses, generally held over several weeks, focus on the aesthetic of the art and cover various styles, including Diwani, Naskh and Reqa. 

Workshops, classes and courses are generally hosted by venues in Education City. More often than not, the Education City Mosque Minaretein Centre - a centre for Islamic studies and learning - hosts the area's calligraphy courses in its classrooms. And, if you haven't already, attending a course at the centre is a perfect opportunity to see the mosque, one of Qatar's most iconic buildings, up close and personal. Don't forget to admire the embossed and steel calligraphic verses from the Qur'an that cover much of the mosque walls, inside and out, and flow up both minarets.

If you're interested in calligraphy classes, check the QF and Education City Mosque websites and social media pages for course types, dates, times and costs.

Location: Education City, Doha

Location Map: Qatar Foundation Education city mosque

Opening Hours: Saturday to Thursday, 7:30 am - 3:30 pm; 

Friday and Saturday, Closed (QF)

Sunday to Monday, 12 am - 11:30 pm (EC Mosque)

Fees: From approx. QAR 750 per person per course

Contacts: +974 4454 0000 (QF) / +974 6613 2719 (EC Mosque)

[email protected] (QF) / [email protected] (EC Mosque)


Instagram: @qatarfoundation (QF) / @minaretein (EC Mosque)

Facebook: @qatarfoundation (QF) / @ecmosque (EC Mosque)

Arts & Crafts Qatar

Image: Shutterstock/Joserpizarro

Arts & Crafts Qatar is a certified art centre in the heart of Doha (certified by IWS Globe Art - a global network platform for art). The centre offers fun and creative learning opportunities across various art mediums for all ages. The group aims to provide a community platform in which artists can discover and enhance their talents, be that in painting, drawing, pottery, sculpture or other crafts. 

Aside from regular classes for adults and kids in sketching, drawing, painting and pottery, ceramic painting opportunities, and special workshops on various crafts, the centre also offers Diwani calligraphy courses. There are calligraphy workshops for beginners, advanced learners and ladies only. Courses are generally run over two weeks and consist of four sessions, starting at approx. QAR 700 per person per course. All the classes, events and workshops are hosted by experienced instructors.

So, to start or further your calligraphy journey, check out their social media for information or contact the centre and register for one of its courses.

Location: Villa No.7, Al Mebtaeda Street, Al Duhail South, Doha

Location Map: Arts and Crafts Qatar

Opening Hours: Saturday to Thursday,9 am - 9 pm; Friday, Closed

Fees: Various

Contacts: +974 4486 5201 / 6686 7993 

[email protected]


Instagram: @arts_crafts_doha

Facebook: @ArtsAndCraftsQatar

If you need inspiration for your new hobby, try taking a walk around Doha; the city has plenty of calligraphy art to admire and inspire. Check out our Spotting Calligraphy Art in Doha article for more information.

Main image: Saeediex/

Published: September 11, 2023
Last updated: September 11, 2023
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