What does that mean?
1 trillion cubic feet = 80 billion barrels of oil..........
That translates into staggering potential wealth. The total population is 950,00 of which only 350,000 are citizens. The rest are expats, the vast majority of which hail from South Asia and non oil rich Arab states. As in the rest of the region, these folks do the tough, dangerous and dirty jobs . As most of the expats are male, Qatar has a peculiar demographic make up and women are in short supply.
The ratio is 3.5 men to every female.Though heavily dependent on oil and gas, Qatar is trying to diversify its economy and fashion itself as an education and media hub.
Al Jazeera is based in Doha ( the English language service is quite interesting) and has established itself as a major player in the global news market. George Bush was so incensed with it's coverage of the Gulf war that he reportedly considered ( albeit briefly) bombing it. This would have been a dicey move given Qatar allows the US 5th fleet to use it as a base for the region.I had a limited amount of free time in Doha, but given the weather was a delightful 75 degrees, I took a walk along the Corniche, where I came across local people enjoying the sea breeze.
Qatar hosted the Asian games in 2006 and it was generally acknowledged to be the biggest and most successful in history.
Emboldened by this success they're bidding for the 2018 Football World Cup.
Given the present infrastructure, this feels a bit of a pipe dream at the moment, but all that wealth sitting underground will no doubt give them the financial muscle to host it one day.
Though not as liberal as the UAE or Bahrain, Qatar is still considered a " progressive" practitioner of Islam. There's freedom of religion and though the country's legal system is based on Sharia law, a fairly "soft" interpretation is practiced.
Women can drive, censorship is abolished and alcohol is available at selected venues.
My hotel was dry.
I also spent an hour at the Waqif Souk. Its a "new" old Souk, and knowing it was a recreated version of the demolished 200 year old version, I went prepared for a "Disney-fied" let down.
I was pleasantly surprised.
I suppose, given the overwhelming majority of the people there were locals or at least Peninsula Arabs, it felt ( to me at least) an authentic representation of what such a thing should be.
People were buying "stuff" they would use.
Sure there was touristy junk piled high in some shops, but the herb stalls and incense vendors (for which the place is famous) were telegraphed by sweet smells wafting in the air long before you saw them.
Shisha smoking men and women ( 'm always a bit jarred seeing floor to ceiling black clad women smoking) lounge on pillows drinking Turkish coffee and watching the world go by.
Not a Starbucks or McDonalds in sight.