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There seems to be no limit to Qataris tossing around their wealth. This tiny kingdom with 2.6 million inhabitants is full of ridiculously lavish gold-plated palaces, most of them built with terrible taste. It is overflowing with Lamborghini racing cars and Rolls Royce limousines, and now, even with ludicrously wasteful air-conditioned sidewalks (cold air blows from below, into the 35C heat).
Ruled by the House of Thani, the State of Qatar is truly a strange place: according to the latest count conducted in early 2017, its total population was 2.6 million, of which 313,000 were Qatari citizens and 2.3 million 'expatriates', both the low-wage migrant workers, and the lavishly remunerated Western professionals.
Foreigners are doing everything; sweeping the floors, cleaning garbage, cooking, taking care of babies, flying Qatar Airways planes, performing medical surgeries and building office towers. Manual laborers are discriminated against; beaten, cheated, humiliated. Many migrant workers have been dying under "mysterious circumstances". But they are still coming, mainly because Qatar, with its GDP per capita of $128,702, is the richest country on earth, and because there is huge demand for hundreds of different professions. Never mind that the perks are for the 'natives' only, while the minimum wage for foreigners is only around $200 per month.
Locked in a bitter dispute with its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Qatar is moving closer and closer to its best allies the United States and United Kingdom. The Al Udeid Air Base hosts over 100 aircraft of the United States Air Force, Royal Air Force, and other Gulf War Coalition partners. It accommodates the forward headquarters of United States Central Command, No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group RAF, and the 379thAir Expeditionary Wing of the USAF. Presently, at least 11,000 U.S. servicemen are permanently located here. Al Udeid Air Base is considered the most important military airport in the region, used for operations in countries such as Syria and Afghanistan.
Qatar has been playing an extremely important role in destabilizing Syria, and other countries in the Middle East. It has been spreading fundamentalist religious dogmas, as well as extreme capitalist creeds.
Qatar has plenty of money, and it uses some of its funds for various 'educational programs', which are closely linked to the Western, particularly US and British but also Wahhabi propaganda apparatus. International experts hired from the West have been promoting such extreme concepts as the privatization of schools, keeping the governments away from developing curricula, and spreading pro-Western and pro-market doctrines throughout the region and beyond.
Under the cover of 'saving children', Qatari foundations and programs are promoting Muslim fundamentalism, as well as the commercialization of education. And that is not just in Qatar itself, but also as far away as Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya.
While at Qatar University, I noticed that even the libraries are segregated (predictably, I was told by a UN staff member based in Qatar, that the so-called "Men's Library" is incomparably better supplied than women's), Qatar wants to present itself as a regional leader in higher education, by spreading around regressive philosophy and mindsets.
Naturally, the main goal is to maintain the status quo in the region.