Famous in Qatar

Gundula Haage

Poorest nation, richest nation (Issue III+IV/2018)

1. Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani
Patron of the arts and sister of the emir
The magazine, ArtReview, selected the 35-year-old Qatari princess as the most powerful person in the international art world. As the head of the Qatar Museums Authority, the sister of the current emir of Qatar has an annual budget in the billions of dollars at her disposal. That makes her a welcome guest at galleries everywhere around the world. In 2012, she paid the record price of $250 million for The Card Players, a painting by Paul Cézanne. Apart from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and the Qatar Museum Authority, the princess is also responsible for the Doha Film Institute. She studied political science and literature at Duke University in the US and also spent a year at the Sorbonne in Paris.

2. Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani 
Emir of Qatar
One of the four sons of the last emir, he was only 23 years old when, in 2003, he was designated heir to the Qatari throne. In 2013, aged 33, he became the youngest head of state in the Arabic world. Since taking up the job, the emir has remained popular among his people. Flags and posters bearing his image are a symbol for Qatari pride and the Instagram account the ruler started at the beginning of this year has 350,000 followers. Despite his youth, Al Thani’s steering of the country’s political destiny has remained fairly conservative. Critics say he is too close to the Muslim Brotherhood and NGOs continue to complain about the human rights situation in Qatar. Since the Arab Spring demonstrations, Al Thani has been promising more reforms. The rights of foreigners and migrant workers will be better protected in the future, he has said. Whether he keeps that promise remains to be seen.

3. Fahad Al Kubaisi
The son of a conservative Qatari family, the singer grew up listening to Khaliji music. His career as a “tender baritone” began while he was still in school. He interpreted traditional Islamic music and began to mix in other musical influences. He is now one of the best known singers in the Gulf states. The music video to his 2014 song, We Ba'adeen, was the first in Arabic music video to be filmed using a selfie stick and inspired many imitators. Al Kubaisi is also the first musician from a Gulf state to be nominated for a Grammy award. 

Compiled by Gundula Haage and Kai Schnier

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