Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stuff Qataris say

At a meeting with the Qatari Majlis al-Shura, the Consultative Assembly, we asked what the most pressing domestic concern is.  The answer? Things are perfect in Qatar.  There are no problems. 

Probably a bit of an overstatement. There is a lot of tension between native Qataris and foreigners or second generation-ers.  

We also had a meeting with the Qatar Investment Authority, the country's sovereign wealth fund. Plenty of gems in that meeting:

"We love food," when asked about investments in Africa that are criticized as taking arable land from poor farmers.

"I don't believe in food security," when asked if those investments were made to secure a food supply for the Qatari people.

"We don't need it.  The government has plenty of money,"when asked what they do with their profits (reinvest).

"They go to mosques and steal people's money," about the Iranians.

"You are safe, the American army is here."

This far Qatar reminds me a lot of Singapore.  Everything is new, shiny, and runs well.  Huge expat community and a degree of social openness.  Both countries' governments are by no stretch of the imagination democratic.  But they seem to have enough money, allow enough relative freedom, and provide for their people well enough to keep people happy.  

It's incredible how different Qatar is from Saudi.  Both are Wahhabi but, wow.  A the Majlis the representatives said of course they support the openness-no one would want to come here or work here or do business if they were closed.

This morning I went running.  And everyone is so nice.  It's incredible. 

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