Qatar, the New Player in the Middle East

A surprising and ambitious newcomer on the international scene and in the politics of the Middle East is the Persian Gulf Emirate of Qatar, a country that became independent in 1971 when Britain ended its protectorate there.  This small country, with a population of 1.8 million, a large part consisting of foreign workers, is "punching above its weight," to use a phrase of which President Barack Obama is fond. Qatar is fortunate because of its abundance of natural resources.  It is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas due to development of the technology called the Main Cryogenic Heat Exchanger, which can cool the gas and make it usable.  The result Qatar, with very high GDP growth and a low unemployment rate, now about one percent, has become the country with the highest per-capita income in the world. As a result of its wealth, Qatar under the autocratic rule of the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani , who took power in 1995 after a bloodless...(Read Full Article)