The Herman Trend Alert|
August 4, 2004
Qatar Setting an Example in the Middle East
Qatar has been in the news because the American military has a strong presence in Doha, the capital, a modern city. The emirate, a traditional monarchy, won its independence from Britain in 1971. The government is ruled by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa, a popular leader, who took the throne from his father in 1995.
Emphasis has been placed on economic development, particularly in hydrocarbons. The estimated population of the country is 840,290 (July 2004); the area is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut (2002 population estimate: 3,460,503). The nation enjoys a per capita income about 80 percent of leading western European countries, thanks to its oil and gas production.
The country is 40 percent Arabic, 95% Muslim, and boasts a literacy rate of 82.5 percent. While Arabic is the official language, English is commonly used as a second language. The ratio of men to women is 1.89:1:00, but the strength and influence of women is growing. The right to vote is universal, at age 18. The country is becoming an example of what can be done by Arabic countries to take their place on the world's stage.
Sheika Hamoza, one of the wives of the Emir, has the portfolio of Education and her focus is strongly on women. This emphasis means that women's education is taking high priority in Qatar. Evidence is coming out of the universities that women are producing better marks than the males: In 2002, 8621 students attended Qatar University, 27 percent of whom were male and 73 percent were female. Compared to other Gulf countries, Qatar is certainly taking a leadership role.
With their industries of crude oil production and refining, fertilizers, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, and cement, the Qatari people are in a strong position to engage in world markets. They already enjoy a trade surplus. With the growth of Chinese construction, we anticipate even stronger exports.
With the position of women becoming stronger, supported by valuable education support, the workforce will be increasingly effective and competitive. The combination of women and education will assure a leadership role for Qatar for years to come.
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