Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani, Qatar Museums Founder | Chairperson

When I heard an arts advocate being included in Forbes most powerful, I took notice – just like when any entertainer or so makes it to the list.

I mean, being in arts and entertainment, what exactly makes you powerful? You don’t command an army. You don’t sit in the boardroom. You don’t lead any company. So?

Then again, our feature does lead an institution for that matter. And it’s the Qatar Museums being led by Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani, sister of Qatar’s Emir.


Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani

Oh, then that’s why she became head of such institution, she’s family of Qatar’s ruler. At least, that’s what many would say since it’s indeed quite obvious. Still, that’s how many countries operate, so what can you do but either accept it or show what you got.

Anyway, this is not to say that Mayassa Al Thani is incapable of such leadership role. After all, she was quite active during her college days at Duke University being VP of the International Association and VP of Hiwar (an organization promoting political dialogue) among others. And even after graduation, she established “Reach Out To Asia”, an NGO focused on helping victims of natural disasters in Asia through quality education.

Yet being in arts or entertainment, powerful is not the right term but influential. And Time magazine was on the dot in giving her such accolade.

Even as Mayassa Al Thani said at TED Talk 2010, “We are revising ourselves through our cultural institutions and cultural development. Art becomes a very important part of our national identity.”

So, it’s all about influence, really. And this she gets that attention by bringing in high-profile international art to Qatar.


Sheikha Mayassa at Davos..

Is it good? Let’s examine the issues that goes with it..

Since you try to bring in such high-profile artists and their works, wouldn’t your people’s true situation be highlighted? More so, you even pay such high compensation to your foreign employees and require a budget of $1 billion on behalf of Qatar Museums to operate – with art acquisitions taking a large chunk – that your own people and media are upset.

With these, corruption and nepotism inevitably became issues. And the only way Sheikha Mayassa could show her said power, in this case, is through concern. This is by listening to her own people.

What’s your take?