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One of the exhibits prepared for ‘Muhammad Ali: Tribute to a Legend’ at the Museum of Islamic Art.

Qatar Museums

One of the exhibits prepared for ‘Muhammad Ali: Tribute to a Legend’ at the Museum of Islamic Art.

A new temporary exhibition devoted to the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali will open at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) on Eid Al Fitr.

The collection of artifacts is located on MIA’s fourth floor eastern gallery and includes photography from Ali’s outdoor exhibition bout at the Doha Stadium in 1971, as well as memorabilia from various points in his career.

Ricky Martin performing

Ricky Martin/Facebook

Ricky Martin performing

Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin has been spotted exploring Qatar’s cultural side this week after visiting the Museum of Islamic Art.

The singer, famous for his 1999 song Livin’ la vida loca, posted photos of himself wearing a thobe outside the MIA on his Instagram and Facebook accounts yesterday, with the short caption “time for #art.”

An MIA representative told Doha News that Martin visited the museum in a personal capacity, not an official one, “and so we wanted him to enjoy his visit.”

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Time for الفن #art #Doha #Qatar #museum #museo #hbb

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Despite his apparent attempt to blend in, his trip did not go unrecognized and he was seen talking to and taking selfies with fans and other visitors.

Martin was also spotted at Katara Cultural Village, eating at Lebanese-Armenian restaurant Mamig:

Martin has more than 9 million Facebook followers world-wide, and his MIA visit photo drew more than 90,000 likes on the social platform, as well as 85,000 likes on Instagram.

Some commenters zeroed in on the fact that Martin, a high-profile, openly gay figure who speaks publicly in support of equal rights, visited a country where homosexual acts between adult males or adult females are illegal.

Martin, who became famous as a child for being part of boy band Menudo, has recently ended his year-long “One World Tour.”

He has also been a judge on the TV talent show La Banda, which searches for the next big Latino boy band.

His latest album, A Quien Quiera Escuchar (To Those Who Want to Listen), is up for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album while his single Disparo al Corazon has been nominated for record and song of the year at the Latin Grammy Awards later this month.

VIP visits

Doha has drawn a number of stars recently, with US First Lady Michelle Obama making her first official visit this week to speak at an education conference and visit American troops at the Al Udeid Air base.

She was supposed to leave on Wednesday to head to Jordan, but that trip was scrapped and her stay here extended by two days due to sandstorms and bad weather, according to the White House.

Described as “extremely disappointed,” Obama is instead set to head back to Washington, DC today, Al Arabiya quoted an official traveling with her as saying.

Obama arrived in Qatar on Nov. 2 and the following day, also visited the MIA.

Separately, another high-profile American is set to visit Qatar this weekend.

Hollywood actor and producer Robert De Niro, who has starred in more than 90 films, will also be in town as he visits Nobu restaurant with chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa tomorrow.

De Niro co-founded the international restaurant chain with Matsuhisa. Doha’s outpost, which opened earlier this year, is the biggest in the world.

Who have you spotted around town? Thoughts?

The Museum of Islamic Art and the Arab Museum of Modern Art (Mathaf) have been selected to represent Qatar at the prestigious LCD Awards next month.

The MIA was shortlisted for “best architecture and spatial design,” while the Mathaf is up under the “best emerging culture destination” in the Middle East.

Leading Cultural Destinations, a 15-year old company and quarterly magazine dedicated to bespoke travel and destination experiences, runs the awards, which are considered the “Oscars” for museums around the world.

LCD annually nominates museums by region and across five distinct categories – Exhibitions and Programming; Architecture & Spatial Design; Eat & Drink; Shop; and Digital Experience.

The list, now only in its second year, also include nominees for best art experience in a hotel and best emerging city for culture.

Contenders

According to this year’s list, historically monumental institutions like the Louvre in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence and the Reina Sofia in Madrid have been left out in favor of newer museums.

Guggenheim - NY

Kevin Gong/Flickr

Guggenheim – NY

The move seems to be a shift in focus from traditional powerhouses and geographic hotspots to newer, often unrecognized parts of the art world, CNN reports.

Qatar’s MIA is the only museum in the Middle East that was recognized for its architecture, and is competing against the Guggenheim in New York and Bilbao, among others.

Meanwhile, the Mathaf is competing against Dubai’s Moving Image Museum and the Salsali Private Museum, as well as Oman’s National Museum in Muscat for the region’s best emerging cultural destination.

Judging

Nominees for various categories were chosen from a long list of prospective awardees put together by 74 cultural ambassadors from across the globe, drawn from “the community of the world’s most influential and traveled creative professionals committed to supporting the arts and innovation.”

MIA

Antony Satheesh/Flickr

MIA

The finalists will be judged by a 12-member panel chaired by Gail Dexter Lord of Lord Cultural Resources, one of the world’s leading consultancies for cultural capital.

Panelists include Justine Simons OBE, head of culture at the Mayor of London’s office; fashion designer Neil Barrett; and ArtNet CEO Jacob Pabst.

According to the LCD website, the jury will be “looking for innovative ways in which both established and emerging museums enhance the visitor experience through exhibitions and programming, architecture and design, shopping, dining and digital engagement.”

Winners will be officially announced at an awards ceremony scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9, in London.

Thoughts?