Thank you Grammy, for forwarding this article from The Telegraph. Who knew? I thought the current Emir was looking slimmer and healthier than before, but maybe he just wants a quieter, more private life, and the prince is willing to take the reins?
We watched Doha go from a sleepy little seaside capitol to a skyscraper-laced booming natural gas economy. It was an amazing time to be living in Doha. Sounds like more changes may be in store.
By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent7:00PM BST 09 Jun 2013
Senior figures in Qatar have briefed foreign counterparts that the time has come for Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, the 33-year-old crown prince to take over the leadership of the gas-rich Gulf state, the Daily Telegraph has learned.
The succession plan, which is due to be launched by the end of the month, will see Hamad bin Jassim, the prime minister and one of the biggest investors in Britain, give up his post.
Within weeks of that decision the royal court will announce that the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, who has struggled with health problems, will cede powers to the Sandhurst-educated crown prince.
A prominent British visitor to the gas-rich Gulf state was told of the plans earlier this year and sources said other key states, including the US and Iran, have also been briefed about the succession.
“The plan is to manage a staged handover of power that allows the crown prince to come to the fore,” said one source with knowledge of the discussions. “The stakes are very high because Qatar is at forefront of events in a very sensitive region.”
Representatives of the Qatar government were not able to comment on the discussions about the emirate’s future leadership but analysts said any changes in Qatar’s leadership would have huge implications for the Middle East and Western foreign policy.
“The legacy of the emir and the prime minister has been to make Qatar a player in the world,” said Michael Stephens, a Gulf researcher at the Royal United Services Institute. “It was an outpost when they took over and now it has grown into a modern city, it is one of the biggest investors in Europe and Britain, has set up a very powerful Arab television station [Al Jazeera] and has a very prominent foreign policy. That is almost all down to the driving force of those two men.”
Sheikh Hamad, the emir, took power in a bloodless coup in 1995, taking advantage of his father’s absence on a trip to Europe. The charismatic monarch has overseen the transformation of the emirate, which lies just 21 miles from the coast of Iran. His glamorous wife Sheikha Mozah, who was last week seen at a charity function with the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle, has been a symbol of women’s rights in the Arab world.
The resignation of Hamad bin Jassim has huge consequences for Britain even though he is staying as chief executive of the Qatar Investment Authority, an immensely well resourced sovereign wealth fund that recycles the emirate’s gas revenues.
He will continue to be the driving force behind the entity that owns Harrods and invested in prime property projects in London, including The Shard, Europe’s tallest building.
With a relatively tiny population of less than two million, Qatar is an outsized force in Middle East politics.
Although Sheikh Tamim is well known to diplomats and foreign officials, there are questions over the future direction of policies under the new leadership.
As a result of his education in Britain and Qatar’s role as the host of an American airbase, he has close links to Western militaries.
But observers point to his close alliance with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood as a potential sign that he will not be as liberal as his father and the prime minister.
The country has spent liberally on supporting Islamist movements in the Arab Spring, playing a key role in providing arms and logistics for rebels in Libya, Egypt and Syria.
From Gulf Times (Qatar); a new proposal to lower speeds on some roads to try to meet the goal of reducing accidents and fatalities rates. It notes they are also putting in more cameras and radars. All that is good. The question will be: How equitably will the law be enforced? When you look at percentages of accidents and fatalities as a proportion of population, are Qataris over represented? How do you encourage the nationals to drive respectfully?
Qatar’s Public Works Authority (Ashghal) is seeking to lower the speed limits set for several roads in Qatar in a new initiative to bring down the number of accidents. This is a sensible move. Aggressive driving and speeding are common on Doha’s roads now. Strict regulations are needed to counter this trend. Qatar already has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world.
During a presentation at the Qatar Transport Conference in Doha this week, Ashghal official, Yousef Abdulrahman al-Emadi, blamed speeding for most fatalities in road accidents. Speaking on “Road safety in Qatar: improving safety for all road users”, al-Emadi said Ashghal had recommended reduction in the current speed limits to the government.
Ashghal is also calling for the installation of additional radars and cameras at key locations in Doha as part of its initiative.
But rules and regulations alone are not enough to bring about a safety culture on our roads. Programmes to raise safety awareness among motorists should be a regular feature of all initiatives. That is why the “One Second” campaign , launched by the Traffic Department in association with Maersk this week, is important.
A Qatar National Road Safety Strategy (2013-2022), released in January 2013, aims to save 800 lives and prevent 2,000 serious injuries over the next 10 years. This is an achievable target if the government acts on the Ashghal suggestion and organises regular campaigns like “One Second”.
A confluence of events happened at a period in my life when I was paying attention, and those things coming together have influenced me enormously. The first was participation in a bible study conducted in a branch of Christianity not my own, whose dogma is occasionally repellant and repugnant to me, but whose study of the chapter in the bible is thorough. The second was my move back to the Islamic world, and my choice to study Arabic at the Qatar Center for the Presentation of Islam.
In both cases, what I learned is that we have more in common than we have differences. I also learned that if we focus on the differences, it can be devastating.
Both groups know the Bible. My Moslem sisters knew the bible better than I did, and when discussing such issues as covering hair and wearing abaya, could quote me verses from my own book which re-inforced their argument. It was mortifying – and edifying.
My Baptist friends also surprise me. For every one who rails against gay marriage or ordination of women, there was another who would laugh and quote scripture saying “did you notice the same penalty for a woman who cuts her hair? or wears pants in public?” I learned a lot about my own religion, my own beliefs, and the goodness of others by my interactions with both these groups.
One of the differences in the Moslem world was that many houses I went into (I was honored to be invited into their homes) were very plain. The furniture might be basic or elaborate, but often, the walls were bare. Maybe there might be a calligraphy with a Quranic verse on the wall – that was it. No paintings, especially no human figures – no idols, no images.
In my house, I am surrounded by images, photos, paintings, weavings – they give me joy, but I do not worship them. They are not idols, they are merely art or family – things that make me smile. I distinguish between idols and gods. Yesterday’s reading from Deuteronomy sticks with me, however, and I can hear my sweet teachers at QCPI saying to me “But doesn’t it say in Deuteronomy 4 that you are to have no idols?”
25 When you have had children and children’s children, and become complacent in the land, if you act corruptly by making an idol in the form of anything, thus doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, and provoking him to anger, 26I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to occupy; you will not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed.
27The Lord will scatter you among the peoples; only a few of you will be left among the nations where the Lord will lead you. 28There you will serve other gods made by human hands, objects of wood and stone that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. 30In your distress, when all these things have happened to you in time to come, you will return to the Lord your God and heed him. 31Because the Lord your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.
I’m not a person who feels a lot of pain. I hardly ever get a headache, rarely get even a paper cut. At one point in my life, when my biliary duct blocked, the doctor gave me pictures and looked at me sternly and said “You could have died, politely waiting out there in the waiting room. When this happens, come in immediately, show the ER people these photos and tell them you need this blockage cleared immediately.”
That one really did hurt, but I’m not much for groaning and writhing in pain, so I didn’t.
Today was a confluence of events. Yesterday, when the air conditioning people were at our house, all day, configuring and installing the new air conditioning system, the terrified and disoriented Qatari Cat spent the day in the large laundry room, with his cat bed and his food and water, and his litter box. It was a long day, and he was alone, and he could hear loud bumps and thuds, and he could smell strange smells, and hear strange voices. Therefore, when let out, he needed to snuggle, closely, to the one he thinks is his mother, i.e. me.
He curled into my arm and purred and cried about his long day and how scared he had been. He was still snuggling, closer and closer, during the night, as I was trying to sleep. He is a good sleeper, doesn’t move around a lot, but when he is snuggled up against me, it is hard to move. Now and then he will snore, or go into kitty-dream state, legs thrumming along and sub-vocal snarling, which can wake me.
Our normal water aerobics instructor was out, and the substitute was wonderful, but we did more repetitions of high kicks, jacks-crunches, and more high kicks; it was a great workout, different from what we are used to.
We really needed to clean our floors after the air conditioning crew, so AdventureMan took all the carpets outside for a good vacuum front and back while I tackled the tile floors throughout the main level of the house. Some of the grime was ground in, this wasn’t one of those quick swish washes but a lot of stoop and scrape, or hands and knees and scrub kind of jobs. While down close, I also noticed the base boards needed a swab, more bending and stooping.
I still had one appointment to go before I could kick back, and while waiting, I noticed my back was a little uncomfortable. By a little uncomfortable, I mean it had my attention, I couldn’t get comfortable. By the time I got home, it had my undivided attention. I know what works for me, back when I had a reaction to a root canal, I discovered Aleve, so I had some on hand.
When I went to take one, I saw this great big capsule. I remembered tiny little blue tablets, sort of ovoid, but I guess I had just grabbed whatever I saw and it happened to be a capsule. Swallowed the capsule.
There is a reason I don’t like taking medicines, and that reason is that because I don’t take a lot of medications, when I do, I can tell. It takes the edge off. I feel slow. I feel a little loopy. I feel tired. And then, by the grace of God, in an hour or so, I feel no pain in my back.
It wasn’t a bad day, just a day with some unexpected conditions. Scrubbing floors is not my favorite thing. In Kuwait and in Doha I had wonderful women who kept my floors sand-free, and sparkling clean. As I clean my floors, I found myself remembering them fondly.
AdventureMan popped his head in the door to tell me how much he likes vacuuming the carpets outdoors, where he can see the intricacies of the patterns. He can see I am grumpy. “I don’t really like cleaning floors!” I grump.
“Let’s hire someone to do it for us!” he responds, and my day suddenly looks a lot brighter.
Hilarious! Thank you, John Mueller and the Guardian for this giggle.
Qatar returns statues to Greece amid nudity dispute
Culture clash erupts after Greek minister visits Doha show and spots ancient treasures covered in strategically placed cloth.
Naked ambition: cash-strapped Greece has long been wooing Qatar. The display was meant to ‘open a bridge of friendship’ between the countries. Photograph: Alamy
It was a spat that nobody wanted – neither the Greeks, the Qataris nor, say officials, the two nude statues that sparked the furore.
But in a classic clash of cultures, Greece has found itself at odds with the oil-rich state – a nation it is keen to woo financially – over the presentation of masterworks depicting athletes in an exhibition dedicated to the Olympic games.
“The statues are now back at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens,” said a culture ministry official.
The dispute, though authorities are not calling it that, broke when Greece’s culture minister, Costas Tzavaras, arrived in Doha last month to discover the “anatomically challenging” treasures cloaked in cloth for fear of offending female spectators.
“In a society where there are certain laws and traditions authorities felt women would be scandalised by seeing such things, even on statues,” added the official who was present at the time.
“The minister, of course, said while he totally respected local customs he couldn’t accept the antiquities not being exhibited in their natural state,” she told the Guardian. “They were great works of art and aesthetically it was wrong.”
The statues, an archaic-era Greek youth and a Roman-era copy of a classical athlete, were to be the centrepiece of an exhibition entitled Olympic Games: Past and Present. Bankrupt Greece was delighted to facilitate when organisers in Doha got in touch. Mired in its worst economic crisis in modern times, the debt-stricken country is eager for investment from the Gulf state, which this year promised to pour €1bn into a joint investment fund.
In another hopeful sign, the emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, recently bought six isles in the Ionian sea with a view to building palaces on them for his three wives and 24 children.
Visiting the Qatari capital for the opening of the show, Tzavaras seized the opportunity to describe the exhibition as “opening a bridge of friendship” between the countries. The discovery of the covered-up antiquities was a setback few had envisaged.
“We don’t want to portray it as a row, and we certainly didn’t want it to overshadow the exhibition,” explained the official. “It was all very friendly. When they turned down our request (to remove the cloth) the statues were boxed up again and sent back to Athens.”
Mystery, nonetheless, shrouds the affair. The show, which had previously been hosted in Berlin, features more than 700 artworks from around Greece, including numerous nude statues. It remains unclear why Qatari authorities had taken such umbrage over the antiquities in question, although officials in Athens described the young athletes – both from Eleusis – as being especially beautiful.
Oh what fun – last night on House Hunters International, I got to search for an apartment in Doha. Well, not really, but virtually. Here is what the episode description says on HGTV:
Just after getting married to Meena, architect Ken jumped at the chance to help design Doha’s new international airport. So, they’re trading in the golden state of California for the golden lands of Qatar. But as these newlyweds discover each other, the new city of Doha is also discovering its own identity as it moves towards the future. From sleek new development to traditional neighborhoods, real estate agent Ana Figueiredo will help them navigate Doha’s changing landscape. Watch as House Hunters International uncovers all that glitters in Doha, Qatar.
I checked YouTube; the episode is not yet up. It was so much fun, seeing this young couple in the Souks, down near Al Saad in Mirqab, and out at the Pearl. The apartment they settled on was in Al Ashmak, near the Corniche; I think it was one of the Bilal apartment buildings.
Initial reports of this deadly virus came out a short time ago, and now the Center for Disease Control has issued a warning:
Deadly New Virus Warning Issued By CDC After Novel Coronavirus Causes 8 Deaths
The Huffington Post | By Dominique Mosbergen
Posted: 03/08/2013 2:58 pm EST | Updated: 03/08/2013 5:35 pm EST
In a cautionary report on Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned of a deadly new virus that has sickened more than a dozen people and killed eight in the Arabian peninsula and the U.K. so far.
No cases of the new virus — a coronavirus that experts say had previously never been seen in humans — have been reported in the United States. Still, the CDC has advised anyone visiting countries in or near the Arabian peninsula, including Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to see a doctor if a fever or symptoms of a lower respiratory illness develop within 10 days of their travels.
As Reuters points out, the new virus is “part of the same family of viruses as the common cold and the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that first emerged in Asia in 2003.”
Since April last year, a total of 14 people were confirmed to have been infected by the new coronavirus. Nine of them were infected in either Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Jordan; three people in the U.K. have also been infected.
“In the U.K., an infected man likely spread the virus to two family members. He had recently traveled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and got sick before returning to the U.K.,” according to a CDC release on the virus. The man’s son, one of the family members who was infected, died last month.
We’ve been in Pensacola three years this month, or anyway, I have. AdventureMan retired, but went back twice to help out and to start things up on a major contract. He was retired, but useful.
The longest we’ve ever stayed in any one place was 6 years. The second longest was 4.5 years. There were some 6 month places, 10 month places, and three years was a long posting. I feel the internal clock ticking; I am cleaning out closets and drawers. No, I am not packing. No, I am not moving, but the habits are still there and don’t go away. Go through everything. Weed and cull. Pass along. Give away. Evaluate.
AdventureMan is fully engaged in a very different life from before, and it requires some adjustment – for both of us. You’d think my life wouldn’t be that different, I still do aqua aerobics, I spend time doing volunteer work, serving the church, meeting up with other quilters, etc., same life, different location, right? No No Noooooooooooooooooooo!
Take the spice drawers. AdventureMan still tells the story of when we first got married and I did my first big grocery shopping, setting up household. As he lugged bags and bags into the house, he jokingly asked if I had everything (his bachelor refrigerator kept beer cold; there was nothing else in it!) and I said no, that I had groceries, but I would have to go back for spices.
When I got back with two bags full of herbs and spices and cooking things like baking powder and baking soda, he was wide-eyed. He was thinking “salt . .. pepper . . . what else is there?” He still laughs about it, lo, these forty years later.
Three years in Pensacola has given me time to think about the spice drawers. They frustrated AdventureMan, and he offered to re-arrange them more logically, which almost started a nuclear war in our family dynamics. Logically, he is now doing more cooking and he should have more input, but it is really, really hard for me to give up territory in the kitchen, and, well, AdventureMan can be a little bit aggressive in amassing his territory.
But, after three years, I agree, the spice drawers are not working, and one reason is I got this state-of-the-art rubberized drawer liner, but it crept back and made the spices rise up and then the drawers got stuck open or closed and it really was frustrating.
Yesterday, I had the house to myself and because I hadn’t planned it, it wasn’t something I dreaded, I just started fiddling with the spice drawers, just editing, getting rid of some really old stuff, combining duplicates and . . . well, because I hadn’t put it on the “To Do List” it was fun. So much fun I decided to go all the way, take out the annoying rubberized liner and have some fun.
I’ve always loved great drawer liners. Good thing, huh? I’ve lined a LOT of drawers. There are some wonderful liners out there, but I love to use wrapping paper. Every now and then I’ll see a design I love, or something that thrills my heart. Because I moved so often, I knew it wasn’t a lifetime commitment, so I just had fun with it. And that is what I did yesterday.
I have some great wrapping paper I brought back that I went to a lot of trouble to get, flying down from Kuwait to Doha to go to the American Women’s Bazaar in November, where I knew there would be the vendor from Saudi Arabia who makes and sells these quirky, whimsical Arabic-themed wrapping papers that I loved to use for all the Christmas gifts and house-guest gifts I would take back three or four times a year. I hand carried several rolls of this paper back to Kuwait, then shipped it back to Doha when we moved back there, then shipped it again, carefully protected, to Pensacola when we retired.
Here in Pensacola, however, it seems less and less relevant. I don’t use it to wrap my Christmas gifts like I used to because the gifts are no longer exotic surprises from the Middle East. And I still have a lot of this paper, paper which delights me, but for which I have no real purpose . . .
So I decided I would use it to line my spice drawers. I can see it every day and smile. It is making itself useful, and two or three years down the road when it is worn and needs replacing, I can find something else that delights my heart.
When AdventureMan comes in, I am just finishing up. I warn him, because he, like me, likes to know where things are.
“What’s the logic?” he asks, and I think “this is one of the reasons I married him; he knows to ask the most pertinent question.”
“Here are whole spices, seeds, peppers,” I tell him as I indicate a section, “and here are exotics, spices from the Gulf and Jordan and Tunisia. This section is grill mixtures and all kinds of chili powders and Creole mixes. Over here you have aromatics and baking spices, and here are the Italian and French herbs. The last section is onion and garlic powders and salts, flavored salts of all kinds, and frequently used multi-use herbs.”
He totally got it.