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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

FINAL THOUGHTS FROM DOHA

The Doha Carbon and Energy Forum ended, the above scene with Sally Benson as speaker.  Both Sally, from Stanford University, and her husband, Terry Surles, were leaders of the gathering.

I feel a tad remorseful because the final Qatar speaker mentioned that this was their first international meeting on this subject, with several more planned to build from this initial experience.  Thus, my earlier thoughts about my group being rather elementary was probably exactly what this country needs at the beginning.  I now can better understand why some of my ideas either went right over a few heads or were beyond current appreciation.  I've only spent my entire professional career on some aspect of renewable energy, while this is a country only of oil and gas, with a lot sun, but a desire to find future alternatives.

While the conferees were having their last lunch, I thought I'd take a hike, and walked for 45 minutes to The Pearl, for obvious reasons, where I inquired about a restaurant.  My guide yesterday said the place was teeming at night and was well worth the effort for dinner. Unfortunately, at midday, I was the only teem, with guards dressed in suits every 50 yards or so.  I wonder what they were protecting.  I asked one of them about the location of places to eat and was directed to a noodle restaurant, which turned out to be Italian.  With my dinner a couple of nights ago being the same, and Rome still to come, I had second thoughts, but went in anyway.

The Caesar salad and penne pasta were excellent, and came with sparkling water.  No wine or beer in the country allowed, except at certain five star hotels, like the Ritz Carlton.  However, at all the functions, no alcohol was served.  This must have been my first reception, ever, with only juice, soda pop and water.  The view was of a pier with toys for billionaires:
It was a little uncomfortable because until the end of my meal around 2PM, no one one else was eating. They work here until around 2, break until 5, then quit at 8, having dinner as late as midnight.  Finally, two ladies in black came in with a better dressed friend in printed material carrying their bags, which I imagined was their slave, or, rather, servant.  

Returning to my hotel room, I took this photo, which looks awfully like some air pollution, although the Qatar person sitting next to me yesterday who works for the air pollution office said there was no air pollution in Doha.  Maybe it was dust.

So Doha is a city of two classes, citizens and aliens.  The largest population group comes from India, around 300,000, but slightly more Qataris than Filipinos, in the range of 200,000.  The total population is anywhere from 1.3 million to 2 million, depending on the source.  You can smoke a waterpipe, as many do at lunch and dinner.  

Finally, a scene of the developing Energy City from the Ritz Carlton.

Wonder what this will look like in a few years.

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