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Monday, November 8, 2010

THE WONDER OF QATAR

I picked up the Gulf Times, the local English newspaper (which uses smooth shiny paper), this morning and noticed that half the front page was an ad for the Doha Carbon & Energy Forum, the reason why I am here.  However, I wonder why, because it says:  BY INVITATION ONLY. 

A compromise was reached, and I was able to gain a car, driver and tour guide for $100.  The experience was most informative and enlightening:

1.  I said yesterday that Qatar had 1.3 million people.  I was corrected that the figure is 1.7 million, of which perhaps 500,000 are local citizens.  Yet, I've read reports indicating that there might only be 250,00 real citizens.  Workers are brought in to handle virtually all the tasks.  Citizens only have high level jobs.  Several imports said that in years of service here, they have yet to have a friendly discussion with anyone from Qatar.  Men wear white and women black, with the more religious shielding their face.

2.  There is no unemployment or homeless.  Citizens don't pay any tax.  Education and medical care are free.  It is perfectly safe to walk anywhere, anytime.  Well, there seems now to be a growing problem with a sort of criminal element linked to aliens.

3.  The Emir has three wives and 21 children.  His photo is shown several times each day in the local newspapers, for he continuously meets with key leaders of Iran, Singapore and other countries. His oldest son (above), Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is the heir apparent.  

4.  This is astonishing:  five liters (about a 1.3 gallons) of gasoline cost $1, yes, one dollar, while two liters of potable water also cost a buck.  Gasoline is two and a half times cheaper than water.  In the USA, gasoline is two and a half times more expensive than bottled water.  Virtually all the water used here, even for golf courses, is desalinated.

5.  No mosquitos, no pork, no dogs (as pets, cats okay).  No bargaining in markets.  The people are too proud.



What you see above was all water six years ago.  Today, Doha new city has a 100 tall buildings, going up to 300 in the future.  The architecture is fabulous.  This is like going to a world's fair.  Starting with above, a series of shots of a particularly beautiful one.
 Note the intricate artwork. 


The guide must have really liked horses, for we spent more time at their equestrian facilities than anything else.  That building above must be their next airport?  Nope, horses train in air conditioned comfort. I learned more about horses than I wanted, but now you get the same.



Above is the pool for horses.  They go swimming twice a day, after which they, each time, take a shower and get dried.  Note the heating elements to the far left.  

There are 700 horses housed here, Arabians for racing and English for jumping.  All American racing horses are Arabian.

There is even a horse museum.







Some other sights:
Above the entrance to their sports facilities built for the Asian Games.  They can probably already host an Olympics and have bid for the 2022 World Cup.  There is no pearl industry anymore:

There are 3500 mosques and 20 shopping malls in Doha.  The Villagio Mall is like that at Caesar's Palace, but much, much larger.  They even have a "horse" apparel store (left).  All the American fast food stores are in the food emporium.  The Kentucky Fried Chicken 3 piece dinner with drink, french fries and three or four other items costs $5.


The Doha Carbon and Energy Forum began with dinner tonight:

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I should note that gold hit another record high, $1413/toz.  Certainly, $1500 by the end of the year?


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2 comments:

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