Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Imagine a place to live where everything is free, no taxes, free electricity, free health care, a free education even your funeral expenses free and you are among some of the richest people in the world. No, you are not dreaming. Well, that place exits. Move to Qatar in the Middle East. It reminds me of the safe haven of Switzerland during World War II that prospered and never got attacked while being in the middle of the chaos that war brings.
All over the Arabian states there is chaos and upheaval but not in this place. It is a tiny country wedged between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There have been no protests or demonstrations there. There is not much democracy there either but who needs it when everyone is happy, rich and well taken care of? The same family has ruled its citizens for 150 years. It is a wealthy and powerful place. They are admired or feared by everyone in the Middle East because of the power of words not weapons or armies.
Qatar owns the television network Al Jazeera that broadcasts in Arabic and English all the time. Twenty four hours a day seven days a week. Give full credit to the Emir of the place because he is responsible for everything. The place is surrounded by revolution yet his country is a symbol of peace and prosperity. 16 years the Emir overthrew his father and started building a country that now startles anyone living anywhere else.
This paradise is rising from the western edge of the Arabian gulf. All of the buildings in the capital look like drawings out of a children’s book. A giant tea pot rises, bullet shapes, cones ,zig zags are all represented here. They built all kinds of different eclectic neighborhoods. There is a mini Venice with water filled streets, a ritzy Rodeo Drive with expensive stores among the places to live there along with world class restaurants.
The prosperity grew so quickly here that many people only one generation apart had very different lives . Most people’s parents lived in tents and rode camels, their children now live in urban houses and drive cars. 94% of the laborers there are imported from the Philippians that work for a population of only 250,000 Qatar residents. They are so rich because the country sits on the 3rd largest natural gas reserves in the world.
Unlike Africa that is rich in natural resources where the Dictators steal all the money there while its citizens go starving and homeless, here the leaders give the wealth back to its people. They have the newest and most efficient ways to sell the natural gas with the largest plant in the world. It cost 18 Billion dollars and took 5 years to build.
They are improving things daily with a new hospital that will be the best in the world when finished. A new concert hall with imported musicians, 6 American Universities have built campuses there like the Carnegie Mellon of Qatar offering valued American degrees in the heart of the Middle East. A museum opened up last year with a Billion dollar collection of artifacts.
The leaders there are hoping that the violence around them will calm down. Many blame the violence on the same people who live a rich civilized life but who own the Aljazeera broadcasting system that informed the Middle Eastern people with its constant broadcasts about everything. They take pride that Aljazeera is an independent broadcast where as all the other ones were just an advertisement for the other regimes. Many hold Aljazeera responsible for all the other leaders being overthrown in the Middle East.
Remember the Egyptians saw live on TV the Tunisian revolution. Libyans watched the Egyptians, Yemenites watched the Libyans and the Syrians watched them all on TV. The Emir is not ashamed of providing the people of Libya with the weapons necessary to overthrow Kaddafi.
Now he has a NATO Alliance, is invited by the Queen in England, visits the United States and is proud to be surrounded by Democracy. Too bad the democracies aren’t doing as great a job as this family is doing.

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