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Sheikha al-Mayassa, Patron of – Some of – the Arts

The art inside the museums is not Qatari. Regional yes, local no. This is not to say there is nothing Qatari about Qatar’s cultural scene; there is. Or rather there is someone: Sheikha al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

The Qatari poet Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, a third-year literature student at Cairo University, was arrested on 16 November 2011 in Doha on charges of insulting the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and for inciting to overthrow the ruling regime. The latter carries a maximum sentence of death. Al-Ajami was originally jailed for life, but the sentence was reduced to 15 years on appeal. However, he was released after receiving a royal pardon from the Emir himself on 15 March 2016.
The new emir was tested by the Saudis and Emiratis with the aim of changing Qatar’s regional policies, and after the crisis was resolved there was an improvement in relations, notably with respect to the Iran nuclear deal and Syria. But this proved to be temporary and was followed by the much larger crisis that persists until today.