The bay at the heart of Doha, Qatar’s capital, is a striking sight after dark. Across the water from the blocks and curves of the a rapidly multiplying skyscrapers downtown, the softly lit Islamic art museum sits next to a huge sports stadium, long boat docks for arriving spectators trailing elegantly from its sides.
Like much about this small country with big ideas, the nocturnal image is part fact, part fantasy. It is the product of an artist’s impression of what the area might look like by the time the 2022 football World Cup, which Qatar won against the odds, comes to town.
The museum and the skyline are real enough, but the stadium – like most of the rest of the massive infrastructural development planned over the next decade – is still just a twinkle in a designer’s eye. It is the next stage of the extraordinarily ambitious journey planned by Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas and a growing regional political force, to establish itself as a leading Middle Eastern country and a big actor on the world stage.
In this report:
- Politics: There appears neither the scope nor the popular appetite for radical change.
- Economy: The task of turning Qatar into a wellfunctioning diversified economy has only just begun.
- Finance: The question is whether the banks are in a position to be more than mere recyclers of state investment.
- Energy: Demand in the US for Qatari natural gas has been hit by the arrival of shale gas but demand from conveniently located Asian markets is holding up well.
and much much more