Tuesday, November 18, 2008

a Q without a U;

 Here's a little trivia for you:  What is the only word in the dictionary that starts with the letter "Q" and is not followed by a "u."  Well,  of course, it's Qatar -- pronounced KA-tahr --  an Arab emirate on a small peninsula jutting out into the Persian Gulf from the North side of Saudi Arabia (http://encarta.msn.com/map_701510187/arabian_peninsula.html).  I'm currently in the Qatari capital of Doha where I'll be until Friday.  Following are a few tidbits of information on Qatar, which may be  more than you want to know.

The current Emir, and one of the richest men in the world, is his Highness Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani who made news in the US by donating 100 Million Dollars to help New Orleans recover after Hurricane Katrina (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/us/nationalspecial/30emir.html).  According to wikipedia, Qatar has the 4th highest per capita GDP in the world, based on oil in part, but more importantly on its tremendous reserves of natural gas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar).

Although I've only been in Doha a day and a half, my impressions are that the city is trying very hard to compete with nearby Dubai in terms of prominence and prestige in the Gulf.  http://www.qatarvisitor.com/index.php?cID=417&pID=1125. There is certainly a lot of construction and opulence here but nothing close to what I've seen in Dubai.  However one area where Doha may have outdone Dubai is in the area of Islamic art.  A new Islamic Art museum, designed by I. M. Pei, and which is being heralded as one of most important Islamic Art museums in the world has just been completed.  Unfortunately I won't be able to see it as it won't open its doors to the public until next week when I'll be gone.  http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=314423.

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