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Saturday, March 16, 2013


There cannot be two more different places on Planet Earth than Hawaii and Qatar.  In the Fall of 2010 I spent five extraordinary days in this country, courtesy of the Qatar Foundation.  They paid for everything for me to advise them on energy.

Honolulu is 8695 miles from Doha, the capital.  Mark Twain said, On Hawaii:  The loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.  Qatar is a desert.  The average temperature of Hawaii is 78 F, while the average high of Doha from May through September is north of 100 F.

Okay, Hawaii is a more favorable spot on this globe than Qatar, but what about other parameters?                      
                                                                 HAWAII        QATAR

Size (square miles)                                        10,930           4,468

Highest elevation                                           13,796              338

Average rainfall/year  (inches)                         8 - 450               3

Population                                                  1.4 million     1.9 million*

GDP/capita                                                   $49,214       $102,943

* But fewer than 250,000 are citizens.  There are 300,000 expatriots from India and more than 200,000 from the Philippines.

Can you believe that our tiny state is more than twice the size of Qatar?  The extraordinary statistic,  though, is that Qatar has the fourth highest proven natural gas reserves, nearly three times larger than the USA (which is 850 times bigger in size), ranking #5.  Interestingly, Qatar has about the same proven oil reserves as the U.S.

Thus, while the conferees brought to Doha developed a multi-year energy plan, I thought the solution was slam dunk simple.  Qatar has one generation to save itself.  Their natural gas is an obvious pathway towards a methanol economy.  Then, over the next quarter century they can somehow lay the foundation for a solar future.  My HuffPo explained it all:

Qatar just hosted the latest UN attempt at replacing the Kyoto Protocol for reducing global warming, and for good reason, as their carbon emissions/capita is the highest in the world, THREE times that of the USA.  Of course, nothing was decided here, but don't blame them for trying:

The World Cup (soccer) will be held here in the June of 2022, where highs of 120 F can be exceeded.  Although there is a move to delay into the winter, the problem is that the European off-season occurs in June and July.  But, aha, Qatar's five stadia will all feature solar-powered German-technology air conditioners for both the fans and players.  How did Qatar get the World Cup?  Simple.  They bribed the Federation Internationale de Football Association.

Qatar is the Pearl of the Middle East.  You can walk anywhere, safely, except for the heat.  Click here and here for my personal exploratory adventures.  Their City Center mall is extravagant, but sparsely frequented.  However view a flashmob where you can see how "locals" dress, and you can tell not too many are real citizens.  Well, maybe not, as flashmobs are organized by someone, and most of the dancers seem to be "foreigners" from the Arab Games.  But you can clearly recognize the non-expats, who are only watching.

Just as Singapore lacks a certain humanity, where there is concern that their people are emotionless and unhappy, the citizens of Qatar are defective, certainly getting obese (#6 in world).  We (U.S.) could be responsible, for this (left) is what you see in their shopping centers.  Worse,  there is an uncomfortable attitude that they are above it all.  I talked to various expats who said, after living here for many years, that they still have not had a serious discussion with one of them.  Qataris need to cultivate an Aloha Spirit!




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