April 22, 2006
Waiting for Good Doha: Qatar - Dubai = Soul?
Wall Street Journal Reporter Yasmine El-Rashidi cellphoned this comment within the past few weeks to Christopher Lydon's Open Source:
I think Qatar will eventually — quietly — rise above Dubai. . . . Qatar’s growth is more startling than Dubai’s. In terms of the “material” offerings . . . it has everything Dubai has but not branded as the biggest and best in the same way. The difference between Doha and Dubai is soul. Doha’s Emir is a visionary in his own right, [he has] taken gas wealth and created self-sustaining industries, . . . [and] with it created hubs of culture in the region — the Qatar Islamic Museum . . . [is] exceptional. The Doha Debates . . . take place out of Doha’s Education City, which is evolving into a regional center. . . .
Not having been to both, I defer to learned Aqoul Gulfologists to evaluate. I also leave it to our cunning linguists to decide if Qatar is best pronounced Gudder, or Cutter, or Catarrh, or Guitar, etc.
Posted by Matthew Hogan at April 22, 2006 06:26 AM
Filed Under: Gulf
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On the other hand, Qatar apparently has crap for a small-business sector:
Julie Brickell of the World Bank also came out strongly in support of assistance to SMEs. “SMEs in general, not just in Lebanon, are hugely important for the economy,” she stated. “They’re the driver. That’s where employment comes from. A good example is Qatar, where there are 41 companies on the stock market that the government has set up and spun off as large companies, but it has almost no SMEs. And it’s a disaster. All of the ancillary services – say you’re Qatar Airways and you need to get your jet engines fiddled with. They don’t have an SME that can do that so they have to fly it elsewhere. If the oil companies want to get their drill bits sharpened they have to ship them to Saudi Arabia where there is an SME sector. It’s those things that really keep the economy going.”
Posted by: Tom Scudder at April 22, 2006 07:16 AM
If you're looking for "soul" in the Gulf, then there is no comparison to Bahrain (except for maybe Oman).
If you're looking for growth then I would keep my bets with Dubai, if for no other reason than first-mover advantage. Qatar (Gattar?) looks nice right now, but I think that's because it has only recently jumped on to the "unfettered blind mindless growth" bandwagon. In the long run, it is still to be seen whether either has the vision and courage to slow themselves down before everything goes crash.
Posted by: Chanad at April 22, 2006 07:58 AM
Given that the UAE has about 6 times Qatar's population and Dubai started its wild growth well before Doha, the former's headstart is indeed quite considerable. I haven't spent any time in Doha (unless you want to count its airport) but I haven't heard of visitors being particularly impressed by the culture there. Although notwithstanding small-scale recent attempts to improve this (occasional comedy shows and concerts by B-grade pop stars, the building of the first theater), Dubai is a bit of a black hole in this department as well.
It is interesting to note how the 'soul' in both cities would basically be generated by creating new cultural centers for foreigners, rather than by building upon existing cultural traditions and exposing these to the outsiders who now constitute the vast majority of the population in each of the aforementioned cities.
Posted by: Dubaiwalla at April 22, 2006 08:34 AM
it's "gatr" with rolled "r".
Posted by: raf* at April 22, 2006 09:14 AM
Is that true in all or most dialects, or just the locals?
And is it Qadhdhafi or Gaddafi or Gadafy or....?
We at Aqoul are becoming THE place to go for MENA info, and such pressing questions of the day as these (gatr or gudder, Kathafi or qadafi, etc.) must be answered!!!
Posted by: matthew hogan at April 22, 2006 09:41 AM
the /q/ --> /g/ variation is a khaleeji thing, but i believe it is also found in the bedouin influenced dialects of north africa, hence "gaddafi".
Posted by: chanad at April 22, 2006 09:57 AM
Thanks. I thought it had to do with that. Those Saudis could never pronouce stop signs properly in Mashreq areas.
PS -- You're no relation to Chanad O'Connor, are you?
Posted by: matthew hogan at April 22, 2006 10:11 AM
the /q/->/g/ is a general bedouin thing. the classic word to "test" is, of course" /qahwa/ (coffee). palestinians from the south (gaza, negev) would say /gahwah/, ditto rural (i.e. bedouin-descendent) jordanians. i think that's also the same pronounciation among bedouin (descendants) in syria & iraq.
gulfies (khalijiis) do have a "bedouin" pronounciation - hence /gatr/ - and would also say /gahwa/.
urban people in the "near east" (jordan, lebanon, palestine, syria) pronounce the /q/ as a glottal stop (like a hamza). so we say /'ahweh/. the egyptians, too.
i don't really talk to people from the "daar al-couscous" (the easternmost outpost of the "daar al-couscous" is siwa, near the egyptian-libyan border) but L should be able to enlighten you on "those".
there are a few words where the /q/ is ALWAYS pronounced as /q/ - /qur'an/ being the prime example". also, while bedouin-dialect people pronounce /qatar/ as /gatr/, no urban levantine would say /'atr/. also, /al-qahira/ (cairo) never becomes /al-'ahira/. HOWEVER, for some strange reason /al-quds/ (jerusalem) is pronounced /al-'uds/ in palestine and /al-eddes/ in lebanon.
qadhdhaafii (the /dh/ is doubled and the /a/ & /i/ are long) ... i think people mostly say "al-manyak al-liibii" (the libyan bugger). i've heard both /gadhdhaafii/ and /qadhdhaafi/. i'm not a badu, so i pronounce the /q/ as glottal stop or as "real" /q/. except for aqabah (the port in southern jordan - eilat's twin), which i pronounce /agabah/ - to the consternation of everyone, including myself. i don't know how that happened.
Posted by: raf* at April 22, 2006 01:23 PM
Linguistics and Qatar vs Dubai.
Well, let me enlighten you on the speech from dar al-soksoki.
First, we have none of that "Qaf" as "'af" rubbish. You either get the proper Qaf (hit real hard to remind that Arabic has Qaf) or the Gaf pronounciation - I am led to understand from bedouine influence. Oddly certain words are more often said with Gaf in some areas, even where you usually say Qaf.
As to Qadhdhafi, well here we have a fine piece of work.
It's true he's more often known by other appelations such as l-Ahmaq (the nutter), but his name gets brutalised for specific reasons.
First, as our Faqih has already noted, it starts out with the Qaf. That by the way rules right out Kh as a proper rendition - utterly wrong sound. Then the next consontants are the hard Th, oft rendered dh in transliteration schemes. Think Th in The (said properly, as in Received Pronunciation).
All this is fine and well, but then there's dialectal pronunciation.
First, a lot of Libyans, although they're largely of Berber descent, adopted Bedouine style Arabic pronounciation (Maghreb style though). So they say G in place of Q. Then in the Maghreb, charmingly, the The shounds all shift towards D, so either people say the properly or it becomes D.
None of the hissy snake like Z z z zing for dh Dhad, etc. the heathen easterners engage in. We like our Ds and we hit them hard.
Ergo, spoken pronunciation of Qadhdhaafii in Maghrebine dialect comes either as Qdafi or Gdafi. Note, Maghrebines love to shorten up words a great deal, so excess vowels and consonents get sold off at half rate.
Now, you have some poor half literate Westerner trying to render this, and thus the mad proliferation of oddball transliterations of the man's name.
Oh and for my money I like Qter. In any case, avoid such obvious Texan oil patch illiteracies as
Cuh-ter and things like that.
As to the Dubai versus Qatar issue.... That's a hard call. I have the sense the Qatar hasn't much of liberal economic regime, so it is hard to imagine entreprenurial growth driving a thriving secondary economy. However, to be frank, I can't recall looking at this very closely. It bears some thought.
However, regarding the Small & Medium Enterprise hard on that World Bank has, I have to say I have my doubts there as well. What they really mean behind that jargon is ability for entrepreneurial activity - which in general starts off small - to generate and prosper. Dubai has some steps in its zones for creating that sort of mix, although in a queer way. Overall, the entire region suffers from a poor business climate for smaller firms.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at April 22, 2006 01:49 PM
Chanad O'Connor? That was terrible.
But "Chan'ad" is another interesting pronunciation. It's the local name for mackerel. It's spelled with a kaaf, but it's pronounced with a hard "ch" sound.
Aren't we supposed to be talking about Dubai and Doha or something?
Posted by: chanad at April 22, 2006 01:52 PM
Is the Qatar of today so radically different from the Qatar of 10 years ago when it had coup attempt after coup attempt, was harboring Khalid Sheikh Muhammad(among others), and almost fell into the hands of a fundie prince, that it is now being compared favorably to Dubai? If so, what happened in the last 10 years to allow that to happen? Or is prosperity and instability that not mutually exclusive? Is Doha's population willing to modernize as much as Dubai's population?
Posted by: Djuha at April 22, 2006 04:55 PM
yeah ... i completely forgot to mention that rather strange way of khalijis & iraqis to pronounce the "k" as "tch". the worst is to hear someone butchering a perfectly fine "kiifak?" (how are you?) to "tchiifatch?" ... oh well.
i won't even begin to make assumptions about your name ...
as for your questions:
-- qatar did not have "coup attempt after coup attempt"
-- "harboring" is quite a harsh word for "k.s.m. lived there". or is the u.s. "harboring" i.r.a. operatives? k.s.m. lived in qatar at a time when nobody - neither the qatari gov't nor anyone else on the planet outside u.b.l.'s clique - knew of his al-qa'idah "affiliation" (my cynical euphemism for "membership").
-- in the last 10 years ... the ruler turned out to have a vision similar to that of the (now-deceased) ones of dubai & abu dhabi ("father of the gazelle" - here probably more "place known for gazelles") ... or at least he understood the implications and opportunities of their economic development ... and decided to invest the gov't's revenues in similar projects like the emiratis did - big airport, lotsa hotels, kewl airline, etc.
-- for "why al-jazirah in qatar" ... i don't know.
-- while prosperity & instability ARE NOT mutually exclusive ... qatar never WAS unstable to begin with. your sources of information are flawed at best.
-- i think that EVERYPLACE's population is "willing to modernize" as much as dubai's population. i mean ... just go around and ask "hey, do you want to enjoy high wages but not have to pay taxes?" as a matter of fact - qatar's per capita income has always been one of the highest in the region, if not THE highest. less than 200,000 nationals sitting on top of some of the worlds largest natural gas deposits. you do the math. or just wiki it. what is your idea of just "how modernized" dubai's population is?
Posted by: raf* at April 22, 2006 06:15 PM
"-- i won't even begin to make assumptions about your name ..."
Feel free, I make no claim to being particularly enlightened or clever. I'm just trying to figure stuff out. Occasionally coming across as a dunce comes with the territory.
"-- qatar did not have 'coup attempt after coup attempt'"
Strictly speaking, that is pretty much what happened. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, deposed his father Emir Khalifa in a bloodless coup in June 1995. Then, with the support of the ousted Khalifa and the backing of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria, Hamad bin Jasim bin Hamad tried to overthrow Emir Hamad in February 1996 but failed. Hamad bin Jasim fled to Lebanon but continued to plot his return until he was captured and imprisoned.
"-- 'harboring' is quite a harsh word for 'k.s.m. lived there'"
Well, according to Robert Baer, the Qatar government employed KSM in the Qatari Ministry of Electricity and Water and when FBI head Louis Freech sent a request for Qatar to hand him over to the FBI, they secretly whisked him out of the country while an FBI team waited in Doha.
Now I know using CIA people as a reference on anything T-word related can be pretty dicey, but Baer isn't one of the kool-aid types and after all, one of his books was the loose basis of the movie Syriana, whose test is so vital to the love lives of us 'Aqoul fans.
"-- k.s.m. lived in qatar at a time when nobody - neither the qatari gov't nor anyone else on the planet outside u.b.l.'s clique - knew of his al-qa'idah 'affiliation'"
Anyone who cared to look into it knew the man was a terrorist or at best a murderer by 1996. He had planted a bomb on a flight from the Philippines to Japan that killed a Japanese man. This was just a test for a larger plot to destroy 12 planes over the Pacific Ocean that was uncovered in early 1995. I'd say there's quite a difference when a country won't turn over a known terrorist to America in 1996 but will host American invasion forces against Iraq in 2003.
"-- while prosperity & instability ARE NOT mutually exclusive ... qatar never WAS unstable to begin with. your sources of information are flawed at best."
The word "unstable" was certainly too strong in this case, an error of my own, not of my sources. But still, if Hamad bin Jasim had been successful in his takeover in 1996, al-Jazeera would almost certainly not have been created and the aggressive economic policies enacted since then might not have taken place. The economic thaw with Israel certainly wouldn't have taken place.
"-- i think that EVERYPLACE's population is 'willing to modernize' as much as dubai's population. i mean ... just go around and ask 'hey, do you want to enjoy high wages but not have to pay taxes?' as a matter of fact - qatar's per capita income has always been one of the highest in the region, if not THE highest. less than 200,000 nationals sitting on top of some of the worlds largest natural gas deposits. you do the math. or just wiki it. what is your idea of just 'how modernized' dubai's population is?"
Again, I've used a term, "modernization," that is terribly loaded and just plain awful; it's a term that I normally don't use in polite conversation. Of course everyone in the world would love an extra chicken in the pot(except, I suppose, vegetarians), but I guess what I'm trying to get at is: does Doha want the "Mall of America" feel, look, and attitude that seems to be the ideal in Dubai? Does Doha want the obscene conspicuous consumption that is ubiquitous in Dubai? I think this situation is more complicated than, "Of course people like material things" because of the often religiously tinged back-lash against Western influence in nearby Saudi Arabia. Qatar is traditionally influenced a lot by the same type of religious attitudes so what is it that makes Doha want to be more like Dubai and less like Riyadh where of course there are fancy new big buildings but no man-made islands or indoor skiing or making out in the mall.
Posted by: Djuha at April 22, 2006 10:32 PM
Is the Qatar of today so radically different from the Qatar of 10 years ago
Definitely. Sheikh Hamad ousted his father in a coup. His father was a stingy man who didn't spend the oil revenues on developing the country. If the figures were the result of dividing oil revenues by the size of the population but the money didn't reach the people in question, high per capita incomes would mean precious little. As Raf* showed, Hamad has gone all-out to compete with Dubai and generally do something with his country.
if Hamad bin Jasim had been successful in his takeover in 1996
What you say makes sense, but where are you going with this line of thought? Things have moved on since, and the country is stable under Hamad's rule. Incidentally, relations with Israel and Al Jazeera both allowed Qatar to provoke Saudi Arabia, which backed the 1996 attempted coup. Annoying the big boys to the south now seems to be the central theme of Qatari foreign policy.
I think this situation is more complicated than, "Of course people like material things" because of the often religiously tinged back-lash against Western influence in nearby Saudi Arabia.
You've completely lost me here. The vast majority of Saudis don't have a problem with material goods from the West or with conspicuous consumption. Differences stem from Western interventions in the Arab/Islamic world and the importation of Western sociocultural norms.
Qatar has not traditionally been as open as Dubai in that sense, but then the emirates neighboring Dubai are also far more conservative than it is. And even Dubai does not feature very much "making out in the mall." Public displays of affection are illegal, alcohol is not available in supermarkets, and heaven help you if you knock up someone you're not married to. The government does not go out of its way to pry behind closed doors and suss out the 'immoral,' but people tend to behave discreetly in most public spaces.
Posted by: dubaiwalla at April 23, 2006 02:43 PM