Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, is a curator who established the Foundation in 2009 as a catalyst and advocate for the arts, not only in Sharjah, UAE, but also in the region and around the world. With a passion for supporting experimentation and innovation in the arts, Al Qasimi has continuously expanded the scope of the Foundation to include major international touring exhibitions; artist and curator residencies in visual art, film and music; commissions and production grants for emerging artists; publications and publication grants; performance and film festivals; architectural research and restoration; and a wide range of educational programming in Sharjah for all age groups.
Al Qasimi was curator of Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present (2023). In 2003, she co-curated Sharjah Biennial 6 and has remained Biennial Director ever since. Under her leadership, Sharjah Biennial has become an internationally recognised platform for contemporary artists, curators and cultural producers. Her leadership in the field led to her election as President of the International Biennial Association (IBA) in 2017, an appointment that transferred IBA’s headquarters to Sharjah. In addition to her role at the Foundation, Al Qasimi also serves as the President of The Africa Institute, President and Director of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial and Creative Director of the London-based fashion brand QASIMI. In 2025, she will serve as Artistic Director of the sixth Aichi Triennale.
Since its establishment in 2009, Al Qasimi has curated major solo exhibitions at Sharjah Art Foundation, presenting works by CAMP (2022), Khalil Rabah (2022), Tarek Atoui (2020–2021), Zarina Bhimji (2020–2021), Amal Kenawy (2018–2019), Yayoi Kusama (2016–2017), Robert Breer (2016–2017), Simone Fattal (2016), Farideh Lashai (2016), Rasheed Araeen (2014) and Susan Hefuna (2014). She has also curated touring exhibitions, including a major retrospective of Hassan Sharif’s work, which was first shown at the Foundation (2017–2018) and then KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2020), Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2020–2021) and the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Étienne, France (2021), and an exhibition of UAE artists’ work originally curated for the UAE Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Among her co-curatorial projects at SAF are an exhibition of works by The Otolith Group and a survey of the Khartoum School (2016–2017).
In 2020, Al Qasimi curated the second Lahore Biennale. International exhibitions she has co-curated include Kamala Ibrahim Ishag: States of Oneness at Serpentine Gallery, London (2022–2023), which built upon a previous exhibition of Ishag’s work she co-curated for Sharjah Art Foundation (2016–2017) that traveled to Prince Claus Fund Gallery, Amsterdam (2019–2020); Bani Abidi’s survey at MCA Chicago (2021–2022); a landmark exhibition of works by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige that travelled to Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017), IVAM, Valencia (2017) and Jeu de Paume, Paris (2016); and a presentation on Egyptian Surrealists at Palace of Arts, Cairo (2016) and MMCA, Korea (2017).
Al Qasimi serves on the Board of Directors for Kunst-Werke Berlin e. V. and Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. She is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the College of Fine Arts and Design, University of Sharjah, and is a member of the advisory boards for Khoj International Artists’ Association, New Delhi; Darat al Funun, Amman; Independent Film Council, ICA, London; and the Eye Art & Film Prize Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam (2022–2024). In 2023, she was appointed President of the Alliance Française of Sharjah.
Previously, she was a board member for MoMA PS1, New York (2010–2021), and the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2013–2016). She was also a member of the Prince Claus Award Committee (2016–2020) and served on juries and prize panels for the Joan Miró Prize (2023), the MAXXI Bulgari Prize (2022), PinchukArtCentre’s fifth edition of the Future Generation Art Prize (2019), Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (2019), Maria Lassnig Prize (2017), Mediacity Seoul Prize (2016), Hepworth Wakefield Prize for Sculpture (2016), Berlin International Film Festival–Berlinale Shorts (2016), Videobrasil (2015), Dubai International Film Festival (2014) and Benesse Prize (2013).
Al Qasimi holds an MA in curating contemporary art from the Royal College of Art, London (2008). She earned a diploma in painting from the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2005), and received a BFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2002). She also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, UK (2023).