I don't know if anyone will be interested in this but I just wanted to provide a little update on my country, Qatar which I am proud to be a citizen of.
The economic results of 1Q 2002 were published recently. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) saw a growth of 27.7% over 1Q2001, that is quite a phenominal figure considering the Global Economic Situation. Qatar is well on the way of doubling the GDP by 2005 (from 2001).
The non-oil sector saw a growth of 7% and has taken up a larger percentage of the GDP over last year. New government initiatives were designed to decrease the reliance on oil and they were accredited to this increase. The non-oil sector now forms 40% of the GDP as opposed to 33% in 2000.
Qatar's exports jumped 30% to reach 10.5bn and the surplus trade balance increased to 7bn.
On the 2001-2002 Fiscal year Qatar recorded a large budget surplus (even though gov. spending increased), which was a historic event since Qatar usually has budget defecits. This years budget surplus is expected to increase by over 600% if oil prices remain good.
The GDP per capita for Qataris will also be the largest of any country ever by about 2005/6.
Qatar doesn't have a permanent constition and the current Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani has set on a course to implement one. A team of scholars has been working on a draft constitution over the past few years that ensures freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of education/research, freedom of association etc...
The constitution also ensures Rule of Law, an Independant Judiciary and a Parliamentary government elected by a universal suffrage (Qatari men and woman over the age of 18). The parliament has control of the budget, legistalation etc... it can also question the ministries and their ministers on their actions. The constitution treats Men and Woman, both Qatari and Expatriates equally. This effort has been backed by the US and EU who
Since the current Emir took power he has steadily began a democratization process. Such as repatriating funds taken by the previous emir, relaxing censorship laws, giving women equal rights, setting up elected Municipal Councils, redistributed power etc...
Health and Education
Finally I want to give a little update on Health and Education. Health care is completely free for Qatari's and expatriates have to pay a small price (e.g. $2 for bone fracture treatment incl. x-rays). New government initiatives have been taken to increase the quality of Health Care and increase the amount of Hospitals and Clinics to about triple the number today!
On the education feild, the government is increasing the amount of schools dramatically and replacing older school's with newer ones. This is to reduce the amount of students per classroom and also to increase the quality of facilities. The ciriculum has also been reformed to be more international, environmentally and socially concious. Education for Qatari's is completely free from Grade 1 upto Post-Graduate Higher Education (in fact you get paid to go to college!). Qataris who acheive a grade over a certain threshold get the option to study abroad.
The number of Universities and Colleges in Qatar has also increased significantly over the past few years with the addition of Campuses from Canada's North Atlantic, Virginia Commonwealth University, Weil Cornell Medical College, a Lebanese Business College and soon the French Business School, University of Texas and another undisclosed university. We only had one University before (University of Qatar) in 1996.
Also a Japanese architect has been commisioned to design one of the largest libraries in the world which will be part of a new education city encompassing schools, colleges, institutes, research facilities etc... which will be the biggest of its kind.
Illeteracy is also expected to be eradicated soon in the population. Illeteracy has gone from being the majority among the population earlier in the century to something nearly non-existant today.
Sorry if anyone got bored by these figures but I just want to pass on the "Good News" published in recent reports to anyone who has any interest in Qatar or the region it lays in.