Purveyors of cultural wares, across the globe, have been having a tough time of it. As lockdown followed lockdown – even when open to the public, Purple Badge guidelines quelled the flow of paying customers into museums – matters for some became ever more depressing and desperate.And, while the pandemic-induced constraints clearly did not generate the cash flow problems of the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem, they certainly didn’t help.Around six months ago the announcement that the museum was about to auction off in excess of 200 artifacts and works of art at Sotheby’s in London sent shock waves rippling every which way. Museum general director Nadim Sheiban, who is set to retire at the end of the month, was lambasted across the board despite his protestations that the authorities had known about the intended sale for quite some time – the decision was, in fact, made back in 2018. He also pointed out that, naturally, it was far better for the museum to do without a couple of hundreds items, the vast majority of which, Sheiban said at the time, were stored in the institution’s vaults and, hence, the public would not miss them, rather than go out of business.Thankfully, the museum was able to recently announce that the necessary wherewithal, which will enable it to stay afloat over the long term, has been found.While that is a pleasing turn up for the books, the source of the financial support took many by surprise.In what has been termed – and with some justification – a “groundbreaking arrangement,” philanthropic intervention by The Al Thani Collection Foundation has come through, which, it is said, will “secure the long-term future of the museum and [enable it to] expand its programs promoting intercultural dialogue.” The foundation is funded by the House of Thani, the ruling family of Qatar, a country with which Israel has no formal diplomatic relations, although there have been ongoing bilateral cultural collaborations for some years now.An official for The Al Thani Collection Foundation explained the body’s keenness to offer the Jerusalem museum a sorely needed helping hand.“The L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art is a fascinating institution that has captured our imagination,” the official said, adding that there is common ground here. “Their founding vision, which has endured over the decades, shares so many of our ideals for open exchange between cultures. We are very pleased to play a part in the survival of a unique institution that makes a meaningful difference to the communities around it.”The Al Thani Collection Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose core mission is to advance and promote art and culture, was introduced to the museum’s board and the Culture Ministry by Sotheby’s.Under the terms of this new agreement, brokered by Sotheby’s, a major work from the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art’s spectacular permanent collection will be exhibited for regular extended periods over the next 10 years at the foundation’s new museum space at the Hôtel de la Marine in Paris. There will also be further exchanges of loans between the two institutions. As part of this arrangement, the foundation will provide an annual sponsorship to the Museum for Islamic Art for the duration of this period.The museum announcement noted that “it is highly fitting that a resolution securing the future of a Jerusalem-based institution devoted to nurturing cross-cultural relations should be supported in this way by a similarly enlightened cultural body from the Arab world.”The jewel in the foundation’s planned Paris showcase is a magnificent silver vessel from the legendary “Harari Hoard,” named after highly respected Anglo-Jewish collector and researcher of Islamic metal vessels Ralph Harari. The rare and valuable find comprises 20 silver vessels dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, discovered at the city of Nohawad in northern Iran.When the intended Sotheby’s sell-off was announced last year, Culture and Sport Minister Hili Tropper was asked to intervene. The minister expressed his gratitude for the way things eventually panned out. “I am delighted that all our strenuous efforts to preserve intact the entirety of the collection of the L.A. Mayer Museum have come to such a successful conclusion,” he said. “I am grateful to Sotheby’s and to The Al Thani Collection Foundation, whose generosity is a great tribute to the spirit of cross-cultural cooperation.”Meanwhile, Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s chairman, Middle East and India, noted the added value for the general public.“The wonderful by-product of this agreement, and this generous act of philanthropy by The Al Thani Collection Foundation, is that audiences in Paris and Jerusalem will now have the chance to come face-to-face with treasures they might never otherwise have seen.”That sentiment well and truly resonates with the Museum for Islamic Art.“We warmly welcome the agreement that has been reached, which will ensure the continued operation of the museum over time,” said the institution official. It seems the arrangement was something of a slow burner. “The fact that the items will be returned to the museum is a great achievement that comes as a result of long negotiations and goodwill of all concerned: the Ministry of Culture, Sotheby’s and, of course, The Al Thani Collection Foundation, for whose generosity we are most grateful.”In these trying times, it is heartwarming that the precious artifacts will be staying in their natural geographic and cultural environs, and that the endeavor led to regional cooperation. That was not lost on the museum’s executives.“This is a truly momentous final outcome, and we are thrilled to be partnering with The Al Thani Collection Foundation in this way,” the institution’s press release continues, “to further our shared aims of increasing cultural exchange, while allowing the museum to continue to enhance art and culture for the benefit of the Israeli public and art lovers.”After much suspense and tension, and not a little acerbic crossfire, it seems that things have worked out for the best, for all concerned, after all.