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All photos by Reem Saad

Students and faculty at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) began their winter semester this month at a brand-new building.

The 515,000 square foot, four-story facility was designed by famous American architect Antoine Predock and takes inspiration from Qatar’s “desert landscape.”

It boasts three video production studios, a multimedia newsroom, a two-story research library, a black box theater, multiple editing rooms and even an in-house museum.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Northwestern University in Qatar library

However, most of these features are not yet ready for use.

And a grand opening to mark the new building is expected sometime in the coming year.

Looking ahead

NU-Q is a journalism and communication school, and one of six American universities operating in Education City.

Last year, the school renewed its lease with Qatar Foundation for another decade, meaning it will continue to remain in Qatar until at least 2028.

NUQ/Facebook

NUQ’s former home at CMU-Q

The new building broke ground in 2011 and was originally supposed to open in 2013.

In a statement last month, NU-Q’s dean and CEO Everette Dennis said:

“It has been five years since we broke ground for the new building and it has taken significant team work to get this building completed. When finished, it will be the premier journalism and communication school in the region.”

Prior to moving in, the eight-year-old school was located at the top floor of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, and had a temporary studio building.

It also briefly operated inside of Texas A&M University at Qatar.

Thoughts?

Rendering of new building.

Astad

Rendering of new building.

After eight years, Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) is finally preparing to move into its own space.

The journalism and communications school will officially relocate to its own four-story building this January, officials have announced.

NU-Q opened in 2008 and briefly operated in Texas A&M University.

It has since been located on the top floor of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Students and faculty also work out of a temporary studio structure.

New Northwestern University in Qatar building

NU-Q

New Northwestern University in Qatar building

The new building is 515,000 square feet (47,845 square meters). It broke ground in 2011 and was originally supposed to open in 2013.

In a statement yesterday, NU-Q’s dean and CEO Everette Dennis said:

“It has been five years since we broke ground for the new building and it has taken significant team work to get this building completed. When finished, it will be the premier journalism and communication school in the region.”

NU-Q is one of six American universities operating in Education City.

In February, the school renewed its lease with Qatar Foundation for another 10 years, meaning it will continue to remain here until at least 2028.

Features

The environmentally-friendly building was designed by famous American architect Antoine Predock and takes inspiration from Qatar’s “desert landscape.”

It hosts three video production studios, two 150-person lecture halls, a multimedia newsroom and a two-story research library, NU-Q said.

Northwestern University in Qatar

NUQ/Facebook

Northwestern University in Qatar

It also has an in-house museum called The Media Majlis.

Students will be able to produce their own videos using film screening rooms and a sound effects studio, as well as high-tech filming equipment and editing programs.

NU-Q will begin moving next month and should be ready to operate out of the new building before the next semester begins on Jan. 8.

Thoughts?

Shahnawaz Zali

Via Shahnawaz Zali

Shahnawaz Zali

An award-winning film about religious extremism that was produced and shot in Qatar has recently been nominated for a prestigious Student Oscar.

Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) graduate Shahnawaz Zali’s 100 Steps was one of 26 US nominees selected out of more than 500 applicants.

Though it was shot in Qatar, the film takes place in Zali’s home country of Pakistan.

Shahnawaz Zali's 100 Steps

Video still

Shahnawaz Zali’s 100 Steps

It follows the story of a boy named Abdulla who finds out that his local religious school is a front for a radical extremists’ recruitment camp.

Only 13 years old, Abdulla has to choose between doing what he is told or defying the man who raised him.

In a statement, Zali said, “We’re used to seeing Pakistan in a certain light and I wanted to show the world that there’s more.”

Time for change

Speaking to Doha News, the 23-year-old said the film took several months of research, writing, rewriting, shooting and reshooting.

Born and raised in Lahore, Zali witnessed first-hand Pakistan’s political turmoil. He said he had always hoped to produce content that challenged global stereotypes about his country and Muslims.

He explained:

“Even before coming to Northwestern University in Qatar, I had always dreamt about making films that can potentially invoke thoughts and emotions and can show the world that not all Pakistanis or not all Muslims are what the negative stereotype is around the globe…

And I believed that in order to progress as a nation, we must acknowledge that there is a problem within our society. Once we acknowledge the problem then only we can work together to solve it.”

100 Steps has already won awards at the Accolade Global Film Festival, Miami independent film festival and a Moving Media film festival in Detroit.

It is competing against six other films produced by students at other American universities in the narrative category.

Locally produced

The film is a product of Studio 20Q. The film grant initiative was started by NU-Q four years ago and provides funding for independent student projects.

Shahnawaz Zali's 100 Steps

Video still

Shahnawaz Zali\’s 100 Steps

The organization is a replica of the student-run organization Studio 22 at Northwestern University’s main campus in Evanston.

According to Zali, 100 Steps took nine days to shoot. But the whole process – including petitioning for crew members, scouting for locations, finding actors and editing the film – was about a year long.

“The crew that worked for us was unpaid and they were all students, so it is a 100 percent student work.

I was very glad that I had a very passionate and hard-working crew who worked tirelessly to make this film happen, especially in the heat we used to shoot in outside.”

After applying the finishing touches, Zali submitted his film to several film festivals, including the Student Academy Awards.

“I did not expect that I would get nominated, it was always a dream,” he said. “But you see, when you dream big, nothing is impossible.”

What’s next

After graduating this year, Zali said he hopes to work for Qatar Foundation. He is also in the process of establishing a production company in Lahore.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Craig Piersma/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

There, he plans to continue to tell stories about his country and its people through film.

But in the near future, the young filmmaker hopes to clinch his first Oscar at next month’s awards ceremony.

“I am praying to God that I hope I can make all of my friends, family members, university, crew members, Qatar and Pakistan proud by bringing a Student Oscar home,” he said.

Thoughts?