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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Qatar’s identity crisis, revisited

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Qatar is conflicted. Qatar is unoriginal. Qatar is rich, but soulless.

These are the conclusions drawn by the latest renowned journalist to touch down in Doha for a temporary time period.

Whether they are fair, or accurate, or both is up for debate.

But one thing’s for sure – Anthony Shadid’s New York Times piece on Qatar’s confused ambitions definitely strikes a chord, and puts into words discussions that people here have been having for a very long time. 

Some choice excerpts:

  • “It’s a mimic of a city that could have been built anywhere,” an unimpressed Issa al-Mohannadi, an engineer who has been asked to create something different, declared as he gazed out his fourth-floor window. “What you’re seeing shouldn’t be our future.”
  • Here is what it offers: a film festival, the World Cup in 2022, a new airport, a metro system and a Coffee Beanery with a menu in English, Arabic, Korean and Japanese. Here is what it lacks: an urban fabric, in a place where citizens are a tiny minority and legions of foreign workers toil in bleak conditions.
  • Qataris number just 225,000 of a population of 1.8 million, and interaction between them and the rest feels as lifeless as the miles of plastic grass that line the boulevards in Education City. Mr. Mahmoud describes it as a “hidden enmity,” where Qataris feel comfortable not at the Islamic Museum or Jean Nouvel’s latest addition to the skyline, but rather in a majlis, one of the traditional segregated salons that stand as a fixture of social life.

Read the full story here. And share your thoughts!

Does Qatar indeed glitter like a world city, but leave few feeling at home?

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