Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Qatar, the Magical Kingdom

I just finished watching the 13 minute segment 60 minutes showed this last weekend on Qatar:

Oh, to be in the Souk al Wakif in January / February. My Doha buddies and I are getting together next weekend; if only we could have breakfast once again together at the Beirut. We truly enjoyed our years in Qatar.

It was fun seeing the shiny sparkly skyline, only five or six of those buildings were there when we arrived in January of 2003. When my husband used to travel to Doha in the ’80’s, it was called “sleepy little Doha” or even “Doh-ha-ha-ha” but no one is laughing at Doha any more, and sleepy little Doha has gone uptown in a big way.

The Emir used to carry a lot more weight – literally. He looks good, he looks healthier and more fit, and consequently younger, and more vital. I’m betting he has the Sheikha Moza to thank for that; don’t we all nag our husbands a little to encourage them to take care of themselves? We want them to live a long, healthy life.

Not a single mention of the Sheikha Moza in the entire segment, nor of her influence in the creation of the Qatar foundation, bringing reputable American and Canadian universities to Qatar, the creation of the Islamic Museum of Art, the face-lift to the Souk al Waqif, the creation of the symphony. Not a mention of her influence on the schools, the health system, the modern face of Qatar.

Only a passing reference to the appalling conditions under which the laborers work in Qatar, treated like animals, worked to the bone. Not a mention that many of those glorious buildings don’t meet any codes, that proper building standards have not been enforced, and that the standards for safety are noticeable in their absence. Not a mention of the malls where the laborers are not allowed on Fridays, their only day off, or the beatings they get if they wander into the Souk al Waqif. The miracle of this richest city on earth is built on the back of the Indians, Philipinos, and Nepalese who sacrifice health, family and comfort to be able to send something back in hopes that their children will be educated and live better lives.

Not a mention of the concerns among the conservatives that Qatar has modernized too fast, that traditional standards are not being respected, that English is the language spoken in all the stores, not Arabic. Not a mention that this ‘richest nation on earth’ is now also the fattest nation on earth, that the Qatari children are suffering obesity, and are greatly raised by the household help. Not a mention of the crisis of intermarriage, and the tragic health problems the children suffer from inbreeding. The 6 minute segment showed a Qatar that was all shine and glitter, and none of the dark underbelly.

January 17, 2012 - Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Qatar


  1. well, its not as if they can give the full story in 13 minutes..and the video looks like a paid advertisement..and maybe it is. ..

    Comment by jaya | January 17, 2012 | Reply

  2. LOL, Jaya, I didn’t think 60 Minutes could be bought! :-O I think the truth is that Qatar is a pretty wonderful place to be in you are Qatari, and not a bad place to work and save your money if you are an expat not working as a laborer or as a maid. They are accomplishing some amazing things.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 18, 2012 | Reply

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