National Geographic : 2003 Mar
Incongruities abound along Doha Bay, where tl hot pink flash of a Barbie beach ball provides a prop for a Jordanian computer analyst relaxin with his family. Such foreign guest workers make up two-thirds of Qatar's 600,000 people. emir, the Arab world's most revolutionary. Sheikh Hamad's Qatar is a place where women have been given the vote, and where a population raised on tribal monarchy was recently urged-by its monarch-to get out and vote. It is home to two U.S. college campuses, including a medical school imported from Cornell University, giving Qatari students un precedented access to modern ideas and oppor tunities. It has also mounted the world stage: as a key staging area for U.S. military forces in the 92 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * MARCH 2003 he gulf and as the home of Al Jazeera, the Arab world's answer to CNN. g Such changes might be expected to resonate with the young. Yet it's the younger generation that appears to be most unsettled by the reforms of Sheikh Hamad. Young men, feisty and politically aware-and educated largely in the West-are heavily influenced by the broader currents in the Muslim world, including the Islamic activ ism they encounter in local mosques. And young Qatari women are, it turns out, even more con servative than young men. No one had been pounding on the palace gates, beseeching the emir to reform his coun try, share political power, or grant women political rights. The reforms had been his idea.