The National Museum of Qatar opening event and the Fashion Trust Arabia prize pulled in big international names.

A star-studded line up descended upon Qatar last week for two important events – the Fashion Trust Arabia prize and the opening event for the new National Museum of Qatar.

Victoria Beckham was joined by supermodel Naomi Campbell, designer Diane von Furstenberg and Carla Bruni, with her husband, former President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, at the inaugural Fashion Trust Arabia prize at the Doha Fire Station.

Jeff Koons, soccer manager José Mourinho, Johnny Depp and Sonam Kapoor joined them at the star-spangled opening event for the new National Museum of Qatar a day earlier, which featured Bedouin dancers, musicians, singers and flag-wielding horseback riders.

The stars attended the events following invitations from the ruling Al Thani family, and their attendance shows that Qatar is still a major player on the world stage and interest in the Gulf state is still strong.

According to The New York Times, the events are the latest move in a cultural and architectural arms race raging in the Gulf. Rival nations that stem from the same Bedouin roots, share the same religion and eat the same food compete to establish distinctive national identities and status amid political volatility, colliding cultures and intense economic upheaval.

“Qatar is a very small but hugely wealthy state surrounded by countries that have long sought to minimize its potential to ascend as a major player in both the Arab region but also the greater world at large,” said Giorgio Cafiero, the chief executive of Gulf State Analytics, a Washington-based consultancy.

Bolstering up soft power

“Qatar’s investments — especially in luxury, sports and the arts — aren’t just about prestige and profits,” Cafiero said. “They are also about hearts and minds, and anchored in forging deep alliances that give outside players a greater stake in the continuation of Qatar as an independent state.

The newspaper concludes that the importance of bolstering up soft power is part of a broader national security strategy which has grown in importance for Qatar lately, as it faces the most serious external threat in its four-decade history.

Since June 2017, a land and sea blockade led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, including Bahrain and Egypt, has cut the country off from its neighbours and has tried to force it into the ground. However, Doha continues to prosper by following its own self-sufficiency plan and forging closer ties with nations around the globe. Qatar has thrived under the Saudi-led siege and the world is recognizing that.

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