The GoGlobal Blog

Oh yeah – those OTHER cities.

Oh yeah – those OTHER cities.

This past week was my program’s big excursion. Over the course of eight days we visited Doha, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. Each city was incredibly different than the others. I’ve been struggling to decide which one was my favorite – so I’ll reserve my judgement until later. But anyway – here’s the breakdown

Doha

After a short layover in Bahrain, we arrived in Doha. Doha is absolutely beautiful and the weather was perfect (Muscat was just hit with a wave of humidity so it was nice to get away from that). Doha is one of the richest cities in the world – as in, it probably is the richest. It’s basically a city-state, as 80% of the population lives there, and it has 15% of the world’s natural gas reserves. So yeah – big money.

A lot of people just found out about Qatar because of its successful bid for the 2022 World Cup – that’s fair – but Doha certainly hasn’t been resting.

Recently Qatar has been investing this money into benevolent institutions to try to create Doha’s image as an international, intellectual city. It’s very international by the way- only about 10% of the population is actually Qatari. But about the intellectual stuff – the news network Al-Jazeera is headquartered in Doha, and this is not happenstance. It was set up by the Emir in 1996 to serve as an Arabic language news agency devoted towards delivering un-censored news and opinion about Middle East politics. Since then it has become the worldwide network we know today.

We had the privilege to visit Al-Jazeera’s headquarters and meet the hosts, the people behind it, and everyone else that helps make a major news agency run.

In addition to Al-Jazeera, Doha also  features the brand new Education City, which hosts satellite campuses for prestigious American Universities like Northwestern, Georgetown, Carnegie-Melon, and Cornell. There are actually very few students that go to these schools (I think the Northwestern one has about 120 or so) but the amount of resources available to them is staggering. The Qatari government literally pours money on this campus in order to help its reputation. Plus all the schools there are there by invite only. Loyola can’t just set up a campus in Doha all willy-nilly. They have to be specifically requested to set up a campus. As appealing as the offer of an all expense paid campus in a beautiful country might be, some schools denied it. Try not to talk about it in front of Ohio State or Penn State.

If you look up Doha on Wikipedia, you’ll see that the main picture is a bunch of skyscrapers. That’s not downtown, it’s NEW Doha. The city is built around a C-shaped corniche. on the northern side there is a series of new skyscrapers being built. To most people, that might seem like the center of attention, but it’s actually not. Despite the buildings’ modern architecture and size, not much really happens there. It’s kind of like, “here’s the city, and there’s the thing that you think would be the city, but it’s not”

It was weird, the whole time I was there (and this was the same in Dubai and Abu Dhabi) I was constantly amazed at how – unimpressed, I guess – the residents of Doha were about the city’s progress. I talked to some students at Qatar University about it and they were kind of like “the skyscrapers? Oh yeah, yeah, they’re good, you know, it’s all good,” I guess it’s just because I am coming from America where our tallest building is from the 70s that I was so impressed about it all.

So that’s Doha. Next time it’ll be flashy-pants Dubai.

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