Friday, September 15, 2006

Science behind the veil

I just happened to catch this interesting article in the local paper. I think it paints an interesting contrast in what many in the West think of the Middle East, and how it actually can be. A westerner would generally not expect the physics teachers to be women in abayas. Yes, women in Qatar are allowed to work.

I'm glad that Qatar appears to be taking science education seriously. It makes sense since most jobs are occuring in science and engineering (such as construction and petrochemical) that's where young Qataris should be focusing their educational efforts. A Qatari who gets a chemical engineering degree is all but guaranteed a nice job with one of the many petroleum companies.

Now people have to keep in mind that what happens in Qatar does not necessarily represent what happens everywhere else in the region. Saudi Arabia is right next door and while I've never been there it is definately a different world from Qatar. A lot more conservative, a lot greater wealth discrepancy between the rich and the poor. Bahrain, even though it is right next door, is also very different. Bahrain is a lot more relaxed than Qatar: lots of bars and nightclubs, locals can buy alcohol, pork is available at markets, and there appears to be a lot of young asian girls hanging out in the bars (even Lonely Planet notes that prostitution is big there).

Three countries, all muslimm, three very different societies.

[update 27 November 2011 -- pork is now available in Qatar, see my post of that date]

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