Armin Rosen at Harper's Magazine:
Since 2003, al-Qassemi has accumulated around 1,000 modern and contemporary works by Arabic-speaking artists or artists of Arab heritage. Under the guidance of three curators, works rotate through his Barjeel Foundation space, a small public gallery inside of a large arts center in al-Qassemi’s home city of Sharjah, about twenty minutes north of Dubai. Between 200 and 300 pieces are lent to museums around the world each year, something from which al-Qassemi derives no financial benefit. The collection, now one of the most important of its kind, is so vast and geographically scattered that there are major pieces al-Qassemi hasn’t actually seen before. At an opening of an exhibition of his works at Washington’s American University in September, he confronted an eerily static blown-up photo of exploding mortar shells by the Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari for the first time, and uttered a long, guttural “wow.”
Until the UAE joined in the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar this past summer, al-Qassemi hosted a show on Al Jazeera’s AJ+ where he walked viewers through collection highlights. He had over 500,000 Twitter followers before he deactivated his account, and was one of Gulf Business’s one hundred most powerful Arabs of 2017, falling within respectable distance of Gigi Hadid.