Monday, June 2, 2008

Qatar - Things You May Not Know

Here's a lovely photo of the Corniche along Doha's bay. Now, mind you, I've never seen it like this really. Well, maybe on a Friday morning on the way to church. Maybe. Generally it's much, much more congested. The skyline is also different. This photo is from 2006 and I can see a tremendous amount of change just since that time.

That's Qatar though. Hurtling headlong into the future, but still trying to hold on to its traditions and heritage. Here are some interesting things about Qatar you may not know:

1) The Sheikh and Sheikha - They seem to be really wonderful people who are concerned with helping others and improving the lives of not on Qatari citizens, but others. For instance, did you know that they made a $100 million donation to New Orleans after Katrina? CNN recently did a great piece on the Emir's visit to New Orleans to see how his money was spent. The Sheikha is truly a revolutionary woman here in the Middle East - promoting women's rights and education in a way that's never been seen before.

Since taking power from his father in 1995, the Sheikh has moved Qatar forward in tremendous ways, most notably giving women the right to vote and hold office as well as establishing the first free press in the Arab world in the form of Al-Jazeera.

2) Doha 2016 - Doha is one of seven cities competing for the 2016 Summer Olympics. In this completely sports mad city, there are stadiums everywhere. Many of the facilities that would be needed for the Olympics are already in place as a result of Doha hosting the Asian Games in 2006.

3) Diplomacy - Qatar walks a very fine line, maintaining good relations with the West and also with other Middle Eastern nations that the West considers hostile. But recently it was in the news for the talks held here in Doha which lead to a compromise in Lebanon's months-long standoff which took that country to the brink of civil war. The Doha Talks are credited with saving Lebanon from entering another bloody era.

4) Population - This is one of the most dramatic changes, I would wager. The population of Qatar has almost doubled to 1.4 million people since 2004. That's just 4 short years, people. No wonder there is so much traffic!!! Most of this is from people like us - expatriate workers. Most workers, however, come from the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia to work on all the construction projects and energy companies.

In fact, Qatar has the highest male to female ratio on the world. For each woman in Qatar, there are three men. Men account for 76% of the population. In fact, the first night we arrived in Doha, Emily had a total breakdown and most of the reasoning behind it was that she didn't see any women at all. It is very strange to look around and see such a predominance of men.

5) Economy - Qatar is poised to become the richest country in the world in the next year or two. It currently is second only to Luxembourg. It also has one of the fastest growing economies in the entire world, expected to double by 2012.

6) Peacefulness - According to the Global Peace Index, Qatar comes in at #33 out of 140 countries ranked. This means it is rated more peaceful than France (#36), the U.K. (#49), Jamaica (#96) and even the United States (#97).


ValleyGirl said...

Very interesting facts!! I love learning about different locales around the globe. Hey, you should join us on Tour Tuesdays! I'd love to be able to take a tour of your neighbourhood!

Erica Herzog said...

It's good to hear such good things about Qatar sometimes. :) We often find ourselves only complaining.

I do have to say, though, that I'm not sure who wants to come to Qatar in the scorching heat to play sports. My prediction is the Olympics aren't happening here. :)

Tracy said...

Wow what very interesting facts. Although the scorching showers don't sound like to much fun. I really enjoyed your recent series on respect it was awesome! It was a good reminder of how to treat our husbands and also to never take them for granted. Thank you for all the great posts lately:)


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