The New York Times’s Travel section does a brief story on the opening of Qatar’s new museum of Islamic Art and pointing to Sheikha al Mayassa (Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani’s 26-year-old daughter) as the source of much of the Emirate’s cultural ambitions. After all, they reason, she was the buyer of the record-setting Rothko, Hirst and Bacon pictures during the height of the art boom:
Much of Qatar’s cultural ambitions can be traced back to its emir, , , an avid film and art buff with a seemingly bottomless purse. [ . . . ]
Ever since Dubai reinvented itself as the region’s Las Vegas — with its juggernaut of skyscrapers, snow domes and underwater hotels — its wealthy gulf neighbors have been jockeying for the title of cultural capital. Abu Dhabi, for example, has been throwing oil money at big-name architects like Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster.
But Doha is well ahead, especially with the opening of the Museum of Islamic Art. Nicolai Ouroussoff, the architecture critic for The New York Times, said that “the building’s austere, almost primitive forms and the dazzling collections it houses underscore the seriousness of the country’s cultural ambition.”
That ambition also includes a raft of new contemporary art galleries in Doha’s historic souk, the Souq Waqif (www.soukwaqif.com), which has been revived, the wholesale creation of a national symphony orchestra and — in perhaps the boldest stroke — the recent announcement that a Tribeca Film Festival Doha is coming to town in November.
Doha, Qatar, A New Arts Capital (New York Times)