"I love it here," said Jeff Koons. "This is my sixth time in Doha since 2000." Koons denied that he had a project in Qatar, saying rather that he liked taking his kids for buggy rides in the sand dunes. He was standing in a chilly windstorm outside the new Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, waiting with the rest of the crowd for the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and his entourage to finish their tour of the building before everyone else could enter.
Among the visitors who had flown in for the occasion were 2011 Venice Biennale director Bice Curriger, Tate curator Sheena Wagstaff, New Museum duo Eungie Joo and Richard Flood, Museum of Modern Art international council head Jay Levenson and Tony Bannon, director of the George Eastman House in Rochester. The conundrum of the moment was what modern art means in a city where every building is spanking new but the leaders and most women dress in traditional garb.