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April 10, 2002

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Late last night we flew into Qatar, a country with a cool name, an excellent airline service (Qatar Airlines) and huge tourist potential (if youíre a camel). Qatar is a little emirate that sits on the Persian Gulf. The country shares the same shape as Florida, except it juts northward into the water. Qatar lacks ancient history, ruins, or archaeological sites, which means youíre free to sit back and enjoy Qatari life without feeling guilty about missing history. During our stay we see that most people are foreign imports, mainly Asian. Roughly 640,000 people live here but only 25% of them are native Qataris. The rest come here for the nightlife, or rather a good nightís sleep because no nightlife exists. Qatari society holds a middle ground between the extremes of ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia and liberal UAE. Most people wear Western style clothes; Jill goes unveiled. Alcohol can be bought and consumed but Qatar has no national brewery, the mark of a great nation. Since Qatar struck enough oil to eliminate poverty among its small population, we donít see beggars or homeless people. Itís a hassle-free place since no one asks for handouts.
Qatar's greatest military achievement: constructing this sword arch in Doha, Qatar's capital.
We watched a fund-raiser for the Palestinians. Jill tried to donate some money but they stopped her, not sure what to do with a foreigner's donation. They accepted it with misgiving looks.
Monument commemorates Qatar's pearling past. The al-Thani family came to rule this small country in the mid-1800ís when its economy centered on pearling. Then the oil came and the al-Thani family made billions, and Qatar made enough money to build a large capital city.
Large buildings rise above the sand along the waterfront in downtown Doha. Architects blend old and new styles.