May 1, 2012
Can you say Qatar properly? I have been working on it for some time, but I am not sure that I will ever get it right. I may have to settle for the Anglicized version which is pronounced simply “cutter”. From what I have read, this is preferable to tripping up and saying Qatar in a manner that rhymes with “guitar”. Unfortunately, that is exactly what’s stuck in my head, complete with the emphasis on the “tar”.
Usually, one can just avoid mentioning small countries with hard names, especially if they have less than 300,000 citizens. But, that doesn’t work with Qatar. The Connecticut-sized, Middle East nation comes up far too often in the press and in conversation to ignore indefinitely. It has become an important regional and global player since the current emir gently usurped power from his father in 1995.
For a small country, petite Qatar occupies a disproportionately large place on the world stage due to its immense oil and natural gas reserves. For the same reason, it can boast having the highest per capita income and possibly the lowest unemployment on the planet. It is also home to Al Jazeera, the Islamic world’s CNN, and will host soccer’s coveted World Cup in 2022.
This last laurel will require investing billions—possibly as much as $100 billion—to make verdant playing fields out of the roasting desert and to increase the capacity of the country’s infrastructure. Critics of the odd venue fear field temperatures will easily exceed 100 degrees even with artificial cooling. Curbing the heat will require a lot of A/C. I guess when you have all the oil and gas you need, you don’t have to worry about being green while you are turning green.