Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bahrain unrest – what about Qatar?

It appears that things are starting to get more out of control in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia has sent troops in, and possibly the UAE as well. The protesters say this amounts to an “invasion”. Al Jazeera reports hundreds have been injured in clashes and at least two people have died (one protester, one Saudi soldier).

I was at a conference today in Qatar. Many people planning to attend from Bahrain could not make it, and at least one person I know who lives in Bahrain left early to go back to help his family. There is talk of some companies moving their staff out of Bahrain, and travel warnings have been issued by some governments.

I will reiterate from an earlier post -- there has been no unrest in Qatar, nor will there be (see my post from a couple of weeks ago for why). Despite their close proximity they are two very different countries and the Qatari population does not have the kinds of problems with poverty, unemployment, and sectarian discrimination that one finds in Bahrain. There is no widespread discontent in Qatar with the ruling family.

While Bahrain was in the midst of unrest I was having a nice buffet lunch at a hotel with insurance executives from around the GCC and Europe. Yesterday the Minister of Finance himself was at the conference giving a speech. There was no extra police or security, and no metal detectors suddenly installed at the door of the hotel. En route to the conference we drove past the Emiri Diwan (where the Ministers and foreign dignitaries meet with His Highness) and there were no police cordons or extra security. Traffic at the airport is on schedule. Everything’s cool here.

Don't worry about me, don't worry about Qatar.

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