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Emir of Qatar's sister named biggest player in art world

Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bint al-Thani, sister of the Emir of Qatar, was named 'most influential figure in the art world' because of 'sheer buying power'

AFP, Sunday 27 Oct 2013
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Sheikha Al-Mayassa attends the opening ceremony of the Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha in 2008 (Photo: AFP)

The sister of the Emir of Qatar was named the most influential figure in the art world in a "power list" published by Britain's ArtReview magazine.

Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bint al-Thani has around $1 billion a year to spend on art as head of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), according to ArtReview - 30 times more than New York's Museum of Modern Art.

"No wonder, then, that whenever Sheikha Al-Mayassa is in town, everyone from government ministers to mayors queue up to pay their respects," the magazine said as it published its annual "Power 100" ranking.

China's Ai Weiwei, who topped the list last year, is the highest-ranked artist for 2013, coming in ninth place.

But Sheikha Al-Mayassa, who climbed the list after coming in 11th place last year, came first because of her "sheer buying power", ArtReview said.

The QMA bought French post-impressionist Paul Cezanne's masterpiece "The Card Players" for $250 million last year, making it the most expensive painting sold to date.

"If and when Doha finds it has bought enough art, there's going to be a hole in the market that no one else can fill," ArtReview said.

The wealthy Gulf state, which has just 1.5 million inhabitants, is trying to establish itself as the region's cultural hub.

It runs several museums and galleries in Qatar including the Museum of Islamic Art, the largest of its kind in the region.

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