She calls herself a Public Servant 24/7/365 on her Instagram profile, which has 813k followers no less. Quite a humble way to describe herself, considering she is Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the sister of the ruling Emir of Qatar –Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, and the daughter of the country’s Father Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and former First Lady Sheikha Mozza bint Nasser.
Currently serving as the chairperson of Qatar Museums, Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani has appeared on Time 100 and Forbes’ The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She is one of the most influential people in the art world, and her annual art acquisition budget on behalf of Qatar Museums isa reported $1 billion. Her most prominent and expensive purchase was Paul Gauguin’s ‘When Will You Marry Me’ that she purchased in 2015 for a whopping $300 million. Coming close was Cezanne’s ‘The Card Players’ that was purchased in 2012 for $250 millionand Mark Rothko’s ‘White Centre’ in 2007 for $70 million. The museum also has works by Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, and Andy Warhol. Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst have also staged major exhibitions at the Qatar Museum at the behest of Sheikha Al Mayassa.
The Sheikha has totally revamped the stereotypical image of Middle Eastern women, while still maintaining her traditional values and roots. While exponential cultural growth for the region was her priority, she also makes sure to keep traditions and values aligned with these goals.
She has a slate of museums under her stewardship - Museum of Islamic Art, Mathaf (the Arab Museum of Modern Art) and the National Museum of Qatar.
The Sheikha has had a Western education at Duke University, holds a double major in literature and political science, and is fluent in Arabic, French and English. Surprising to many she did not study Art History.
Her latest project and one of Qatar Museum’s newest cultural offerings is CP Club, a co-working space and members club. Sheikha Al Mayassa was keen on creating a space for local creative people to work and network in Msheireb. CP Club is designed by the very trendy designer duo – Maire Anne Oudejans and Filipa de Abreu.
In a recent interview, she revealed her agenda for the next 10 years—to create a space for a new generation of local creatives to work, learn and thrice. To call Sheikha A Mayassa the doyenne of the art and cultural world is an understatement considering the sheer power that she yields.She is the undoubted the cultural Queen of the Middle East. – Suneela
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