tv Book Discussion on Qatar CSPAN December 25, 2013 7:30am-8:46am EST
>> well, i was a political appointee by george bush and i've known george bush a long time, great, great man and great friend. and so when i had the opportunity to serve in his of administration i certainly wanted to do. had no idea he would take me for this particular mission although i do a lot of commissions and special missions and different things. both at the state level and the federal level in my career. >> "the global vatican" is the name of the book and the author is ambassador francis rooney. this is a booktv on c-span2. >> mehran kamrava talks about the outsized influence of qatar in the world. he argues unlike other regional powerhouses qatar has been able to achieve its global scanning through al-jazeera, its supportu democracy movement in the middln east, and through the hosting of major world events like the world cup.o this is about an hour and 15
minutes.wn wth >> thank you all very much. let me start by thanking the wonderful team for tonight's event. let me start by thanking osama and his team for tonight's event. i am most grateful and honored to be here. thank you all. i was motivated to study since 2007 at the georgetown campus in delhi. one of the first things that struck me about the country was it's amazing development and its relative success. so what motivated me to write this book is the simple question of whether or not qutar is for real. i don't know how many of you are familiar with qutar. but in many ways, this is a country that consistently punches above its weight to
overuse and use the metaphor. it is a small state, which tries to be extremely consequential, not only within the arabian peninsula and was in the persian gulf, but also beyond. and it exercises a certain amount of power that in many ways is commensurate with its size and demography and also its history. in a region where relatively great powers like each other and syria and iraq and iran and saudi arabia, where they have long influenced regional affairs and have long called the shots, if you will. it has been extremely consequential over the last decade and a half. not only has it been extremely consequential, but it has also shaped the direction of current events and, in fact, history as it unfolds.
so when i went there, there were several questions that i had and one was when i posted earlier. is qatar for real. is this a country that is exercising a sort of power that is fleeting and in permanent, or is that in many ways consequential? then if you look at delhi, it is an amazing and -- it is a very odd city in terms of its development. it is engaged in what you might call high modernism, with a city that is growing into the sea and sky with artificial islands and also high-rises. but it is also a city where you have relatively little urban tradition. and the urban tradition that is that they are a state directed
and it is an urban tradition where the government deliberately tries to create a sort of parity. so the questions that i have for myself or to what extent does all of this mean, and how blasting as this? is it something that is fleeting and we have countries that have long shape the region. the more i studied this, the more i realized a couple of things. i realized that qatar is a success story. it is not unqualified success, but in many ways it is a success story, and that's where it needs to be told. i also realized that there is a series of developments and factors that have converged at the same time to resolve in what might be called qatar's moment in history and that is what is
currently riding high. not only punching above its weight, but in many ways it is having a number of successes that are shaping, consequentially, the middle eastern history. and so in many ways it is a success story that needs to be told and also again, it does have some glitches. then i also realized for myself as well as for others that it is a place that needs to be described and it is a place that needs to be studied and analyzed. it is not just fleeting. when i went to qatar, i had an extremely hard time describing the place to others. i remember one of my first official meetings, it was with a high-ranking diplomat. and i said how do you describe this place to others? it's extremely difficult to describe qatar. the image that he said that he told me, he said that well, you know, this is like those scenes
in the james bond movies where you have these national celebrations where people have their national dress and they are all getting together and beautiful colors of their own national dresses. and in many ways to qatar resembles that. the second image that he told me about was more lasting than that. he said that, imagine at that time that the size of the population was just over 1 million. he said that you have 800,000 people waiting on 200,000 people. that image really stuck with me. so i decided when i wrote this book, one of the first things i thought that i needed to do was to describe this difficult -- this place that is it is difficult to describe. this very odd place. bear with me as i attempt attempted to read you a passage from the book and try to
describe this place. for those of you who have been in qatar, we know that there are lots of opulent buildings and very luxurious hotels. what i am about to tell you is inspired by the lobby of the ritz-carlton and there are another of hotels that are newer and more opulent in this particular passage, every time i go into the lobby of the ritz-carlton, in many ways i am overwhelmed by the opulence that i see. so i decided to start off with a description of doha. then i will tell you a little bit about the kinds of power and influence that i think that qatar is exerting what are some of the ingredients of success are also mentioned. now, doha may lack the session, but it is still filled with the
glitz that numbs the senses and the perception of reality. it is like tucson, arizona on one hand. it is not surprising that today's doha is one massive construction site. no sooner are the city maps printed that they become obsolete. as multilane highways replaced old stinky streets. roundabouts, marvels of traffic engineering from a bygone era, cars and manageable street flow is being replaced with four corner junctions and time traffic lights. cranes and other heavy construction equipment are ubiquitous features of the urban landscape. doha, it seems, is the addicted to carry out its asphalt streets
as soon as they are ready. entire neighborhoods made up of older shops and larger single-family homes are raised with unsettling frequency and replaced by tall and glass covered buildings. remembering directions to points of interest is often an exercise in point of futility. passengers find themselves giving directions to their drivers, many who are recent arrivals. it is a product of the worlds highest and deadliest traffic accident rates. the municipalities of speed cameras all across the city have done little to encourage a culture of driving safely.
unsurprisingly, most of the people in qatar presume larger and safer cars. and the ubiquitous toyota land cruiser is the king of this and a significant symbol. in recent years, more daring colors of black and gray are also seen darting around town. all the while, the armies of construction workers in the tens of thousands remain as inconspicuous and hidden from public view as possible. the state employees at discourse baral bachelors from shopping malls on so-called family days and from living in family residential areas.
and in this sense, it is a code word for migrant workers from south asia and family designates everyone else, married or not. the biggest interaction between unskilled migrant workers in the rest of the country's residence, are on the congested streets of doha, where half open windows of the american school buses as workers are driven from future high-rises to the distant labor camps. what i have tried to do is convey a sense of this odd mixture between hong kong and tucson, arizona. the city that has landmarks that have nothing to do with the
culture of this. but nonetheless, they are an important part of the country's tradition and its sense of identity and theme. but then i realized that, in fact, doha, as i mentioned, is a success story. it does have challenges and it does face some serious fundamental challenges. but it is a success story. what are some of the ingredients of that success story? and what are some of the main factors that have made it, doha and qatar, what it is today? and i have decided that it can be divided broadly into four categories and first and foremost, the least compared to the rest of the middle east and compared to its other neighbors in the arabian peninsula, qatar has a comparative advantage that others do not. in many ways, it has remarkable social cohesion and 10 to 20% of
the people from doha are said to be share and some claim they are ancestry to come from iran. nevertheless, it tends to be remarkably supportive of the families. so i'm like this, for example, where the fundamental sectarian tensions are a part of this, there is a mark remarkable social cohesion. also one that is a confederation in one of those has a way wayward ruler that has to be bailed out by the ruler of abu dhabi and qatar does not have that problem. also in addition, it has an extremely small demography and it ranges at most around 200,000. so it is a very easily
manageable country and it also has important resources and wealth. so i'm the one hand it has a comparative advantage as compared to all of the other regional states and it has cohesion and a very manageable population and a small demography and inordinate resources at its disposal. in a second characteristic within the arabian peninsula in the larger middle east is the centralized decision-making. in many ways, a way to conceptualize this to think of it as the corporation. and that is how it is a very easy way of thinking about it in the major decisions in the country are made by a handful of people and there is tremendous
centralized decision-making. you can imagine that the minister of energy brings in revenues and the prime minister who also happened to be in charge of the investment authorities is the guy who invests the funds that are brought in. also, it is her foundation that is in charge of culture activities and universities like georgetown and texas a&m and others to come. she also oversees cultural activities as well. and then you have this for the last couple of months. he is the chief deputy in many ways. the title of the position was
deputy. and then you had the ceo overseeing the whole operation and in many ways, if you think about it, decision-making from investments to cultural activities and overseeing the whole operation, those decisions were made by five people. although the precise number may change by one or two, and some of the personalities might change, the fundamentals of the northeast remain concentrated in that includes legitimacy. an example, this is something that they may have had major problems with it that they don't have. so although they might have equal amounts or both or even
more wealth, they don't have a agile decision-making and leadership as well it also has an incredibly wealthy to find vision. and this includes the activities in agendas that is lacking in other parts of the arabian peninsula and across the persian gulf. it is a vision that initially was compounded by survival strategies. and i will mention in a minute, it was initially motivated by a survivor strategy. when one individual came to power in 1995, there was an irrational fear that qatar would be gobbled up and trampled by saudi arabia and by developments in iran.
and we are engaged in a hyperactive diplomacy to ensure its survival. and then they realized that it wasn't survival that they needed to worry about. it was getting the place secure on the global map in that building on opposition within the global map to enhance the larger position within the global community. and so there is a well-defined vision that is being pursued with unmatched passion. and also important within the political calculus, it is what might be called high modernism. this incredibly active and robust pursuit of modernity. however it is defined by the government. in the way that the government
of the state -- it is defined as construction. and we we see the passage in iraq. we are actively look doha geography is being redrawn and it is being reconfigured as a landscape through the building of the futuristic cities and georgetown university along with other universities is housed in education city and there are all sorts of those that are science and technologies and the term artificial island and there are all sorts of mechanisms to pursue modernity as defined by the government and all of this is pursued by construction projects and the importance of this is not just in changing the early infrastructure. but in tying the state and bringing within the orbit of the
state in the employ of the state, qatari business and entrepreneurs in each of these cities that are being built, one city, for example, slightly north and within it, there is doha land. not too different from disneyland. there is something called doha land. in and all of these are construction development projects, few of which the business community is drawn into the business community orbiting the state and political stability is in many ways purchased. political stability is insured. so there's remarkable political stability, which ties the business community for example in kuwait to the state division in its pursuit of development
and modernistic projects. last but not least, the fourth element in qatar's success is its influence and power and one of the things that struck me about it was how a small state established only in 19701970 or 1971. how can a small state become so consequential. there was a meeting in which a qatari representative, this is before the arab spring, a representative from qatar was very passionately advocating this speech. and he was very easily dismissed by the representative from egypt at the time. he said please sit down. all the people do not add up to the people in one bus stop in
cairo from this country. so when hosni mubarak went to the al jazeera studios, he turned to his information minister and he said, how can a matchbox like this create so much trouble across the arab world? and he told his information minister, you employed 20,000 in cairo and these guys with their handful of people in the al jazeera studios create more problems. so it's qatar part of the influence for real? what i discovered is that doha and qatar through a number of careful and calculated foreign-policy mechanisms and through this careful use of the foreign policy toolbox, several tools in the toolbox has been able to create conditions whereby they can pursue their interests. and what are some of those tools >> first and foremost, foreign-policy it might be best
as hedging and this comes from gambling and it's a term that comes from gambling whereby you place one major bad, let's say you bet on the united states to guarantee your security. and you place a number of smaller bets as well unless they you may then for traumatize with come ons or iran or other individuals they may not necessarily see eye to eye. and what they have been able to do through their carefully calculated policy regimen is to position itself as an important conduit between various actors that otherwise do not speak to one another. so for example, a couple of months ago, qatar was extremely successful, although aborted in many ways, successful and position of itself and that was
really an interesting development. and qatar has been able to maintain very close fraternal ties with iran and at the same time it is anchored in american security under the american security umbrella and under the culture of institutions like universities and the american economy and diplomacy and patterns of development. and this is what might be called subtle influence and what they have been able to do through their subtle power and exercise of this power, they can create a set of conditions and a set of structures, whereby it can exert this in subtle ways and through the international investments and its careful pursuits of hedging is a foreign-policy initiative. through its very deliberate
effort as the al jazeera tv station represents. and qatar is extremely active in branding itself and through a very aggressive advertising campaign. you will see advertisements by the national carrier a part of the foundation in a whole variety of interests that will help create these conditions. and needless to say, this is extremely important. and to so let me end, if i may. with a passage from the book's conclusion, which in many ways points to some of the upcoming challenges that they are likely to face. unfortunately they did not wait for the book to be published
before they decided to retire. first, he retired and then the book came out a couple of weeks later and then some of these sources of success that centralized decision-making, i think it can also become major challenges for qatar in the future. so here is how it concludes. paradoxically, the biggest challenge facing the qatari system in the coming years has also been one of its biggest assets in the recent past, mainly this nature. the regimes focused decision making has given an agility and flexibility and this includes a great navigator of these regions and troubled waters and his own families fractured past. upwards of 2003, they had never
had a successful smooth transition of power. every time there was a transition of power up until 2003, it had come about as a result of the palace coup. of course, all of that changed. and then the on-the-job training occurred since 2000 nine and 2010, assuming an increasing the more visible and active profile and in the countries diplomacy. but how future generations of these rulers will deal with the same challenges that his father dead, it remains an open question. let us make no mistake about it. regardless of the stewards and the capaies and as long as that wealth continues, so is the likelihood
that the sheikhdom will project a larger image of itself and its size and abilities warrant. the length of the country's current moment in history, and how long it can project the former power that is by all accounts in commensurate with its size, history, infrastructure and industrial and scientific resources depends directly on how long and in what ways its wealth lasts and can be prolonged. the real challenge is for qatar to carry on business as usual in the post-oil era. until then, the country can rest recently assured of its place in the limelight of history. thank you very much. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you very much, mehran, for a very engaging presentation of your book. i predict there will be many books following your wake now talking about qatar. i will now open the floor to questions. mehran will field is only -- his own questions and i will only ask you please, identify yourselves before you ask a question and keep your questions brief and to the point if you don't mind. thank you. >> hi. mehran, i wanted to ask you, you emphasized the remarkable social cohesion and efforts the regime makes to draw in the business community, for example. i was wanting to get any thoughts on how the new country deals with domestic defense? thinking for example, the men
serving a 15 year jail time, and i think that the new emir has chosen to uphold that sentence. so do you have any thoughts on what's going on the? >> yeah. you know, you mentioned domestic dissent. qatar is remarkable for its lack of domestic dissent. ..tar is remarkable for its lack of domestic dissent compared to other regional states and it doesn't mean that there are not individuals or chatter in the social media particularly. and most particularly, twitter against erosion of culture or in some of these developments. by and large, you do not have dissent in the country. i will tell you why there is an absence of this defense. first and foremost, the average per capita gross domestic product is around $354,000 per
year. and so it tends to be known that qataris are remarkably wealthy, and even the saudi arabians and the kuwaitis and they know how good they have it economically and financially, and they know that they need this quarter their continued accumulation of wealth. so that is one factor. the other factor is that qatar has a incredibly detailed welfare system. so almost from cradle to grave, every need is addressed in taking care of and to use a political science jargon, it is the perfect tiered state. with this kind of a state, the kind of issues that become salient and tend to excite
people are not necessarily issues of accountability. they are not denounced for transparency. they are all demands that demand around cultural politics and why is their pork sold in the country's only liquor store. the question of a religion or culture, as you know, for all intents and purposes, everyone speaks english. and even qataris people, especially those that attend the american branch campuses, a lot of times they don't speak every arabica. so that issues that revolve around culture politics tend to be those that are important and the erosion of the cultural authenticity or the qatari
culture rather than demands for transparency. these issues can be relatively easy to addressed by the powers that be. for example, you can ban the sale of alcohol is the the sale of pork in the countryr so by and large, at least for the time-being given the current political economy of the country the qatari population tend to be apolitical for a whole variety ofof reasons. doesn't mean there is no individual dissent and that may exist. now, is this something that the sentencing of the poet, is it something the sheikh personally upheld? as you know thee poet is accused of personally insulting, of a very personal type of insult against the ruling family. and that becomes extremely difficult in the context of thag culture, in the context of that
kind of political system, to pardon. let's notd that, forget that the sheikh has been in office only a matter of months, so it will tick a couple of years at least for him to put his personal stamp on the political system as it took hiss father a couple of years to put his stamp on the qatari political system. so things might still change. i promised to keep my answers shorter. yes, sir? >> thank you very much. professor, iwe i want to go bace second to your opening anecdote on the east qatar area. your opinion even with the level considering the demography of
200,000 people? hows does this form traditional issues into pragmatism? for example, women in parliament and issues of expanding qatar, not geographically but to includei more citizens for growth. this is my question. >> this is i'm not sure for growth you necessarily need people. depend how you work with your demographic limitations. no doubt the small size of the population poses major challenges, in terms of having a robust diplomatic corps oro having a robust national bureaucracy or civil service that can staff your ambitionsst and can follow through, but at the same time, a limited demography can serve several distinct advantages or used to your advantages. for example, if all of your
middle class is imported you doesn't have to deal with inherently troublesome middle classes. if you don't have a domestic and indigenous working class, you don't have to worry aboutt strikes. if the working class goes on a strike, you deport them and then there is ready pool of replacement. so i think it depend on how you can massage and handle these demographic limitations. some of these states, particularly qatar, can use it to their tremendous advantage, not having, in fact, in many ways you can argue that qatar has pursued an industrial policy that has deliberately hampered the development of an indigenous domestic working class. and at the same time,po a did he most tick and indigenous middle class because these guys can be troublesome. you know, they can, go back to samuel huntington's kings'
dilemma. they have demands of political participation and political empowerment. i go back to one of the points you raised, women's empowerment. qatar pursued and active policy of the women's empowerment under the sheikh. there is deliberate effort by the state to empower women. incidentally., and the governmet doesn't even have to try that hard. qatari women, take alreadily younger woman tend to be far more motivated than qatari men. 75% of the national university isat women. only 25% of it is men. of american branch campuses, for example, at georgetown, 60% of our student body is female. 40% is male. so in many ways that's a part of
the natural sense of wanting mobility and of course the government facilitates that. let's go in the back. >> now, professor, i was wondering before 1995 qatar was in many ways subservient to its larger neighbor saudi arabia and then under the leadership of sheikh hamad qatar was much more independently of larger neighbor much to its chagrin. in the new era under his leadership, not necessarily accounted for in the book i'm wondering if you foresee that sheikh komen and new leadership will be able to add independent ofc its larger neighbor and will this perhaps be the end of, as you call it, qatar's moment in history?l
>> that is an excellent question and i think it is too early to answer. we have yet to see. allow me for a minute if the professor would, to very quickly share with you an anecdote. up until 1995 the former amir, sheikh kalifa would go to riyadh every months or so thank the saudi kingo of arabian peninsul, not just of saudi arabia be but the arabian peninsula. the that homage the qatar amir paid to the saudi king was resented by younger generation of qataris. in 1995 that younger generation ofn qataris came to power and te likes ofyo sheikh joseph who lar became the prime minister and the foreign minister. so from 1995 on we have a crop of qatari leaders that in many ways personally resent this
secondary position that was ascribed to qatar in relation to saudi arabia. we see this inr terms of their foreign policy pursuits, to deliberately come out of the saudi shadow. as you know up until 2010, 2011, there was tremendous tension between saudi arabia and qatar largely because qatar was so determined to come out of the saudi shadow and the saudis resented it and dismissed qatar as ucp starts and even recently there was a tweet by the, by prince bandar of saudi arabia dismissing qatar as a country of 300 people and a tv station. of course the qatari foreign minister tweeted back, we raised our kids to be a lot more polite than others. so a twitter war of sorts ensued
does sheikh amin and new crop of katari leaders have the same visceral resentment of the saudi behemoth? i don't know. i don't think wes,av know the ar to that. probably not. and,e but, again, i think we wil see the ultimate result of sheikh's stamp on qatari diplomacy, in a year or two still. so, we don't know yet. yes, sir? >> thank you, dr. kamrava, for a fascinating presentation. i'm a second year student for arab studies and i was wondering i have not had the pleasure of visiting qatar yet. i hope to soon one day. i was wondering if you were to advise another state on political reforms what type of
advice do you think the katari system can give them. >> what kind of advice the qatari system would give to anotherld system on political reform? >> for, you know, seems to be very effective, i was wondering whether this is something thatqa could be reproduced elsewhere? >> i don't think qatar is in any position to advise on political reform. it is ultimately a non-democratic political system. it happens to be a remarkably stable non-democracy but by no means if you mean reformed, a democratic political system. it is not a reformed political system. and that actually brings up a more interesting question as this is fainting on me, this microphone. that brings up interesting question, the modus operandi of
decision making. why does qatar make some of its decisions the way it does? for example, how could a non-democratic political system have the audacity to bring in a number ofy american universities that teach liberal arts to, in a non-democratic environment? or, how dare does qatar support the yearning for freedom in places like libya and syria. thank you, sir. whereas itself is a non-democratic political system? so what are some of the calculation that is go on in the minds of qatari leaders, that prompt to make decision that is really don't seem quite logical or in many ways coherent? and my response to that, or my gut feeling to that is that they make decisions based on several. calculations. firsnst and foremost is this the right decision?
does it serve our interests. does it not alienate the united states, even if they don't agree with it, does it not alienate them. and is it something that brings us kudos in the international community? does it help our branding efforts? does it help qatar, inc., ind those terms. conspicuously absent from those calculations are the particularly unintended consequences. so i think the assumption is that we've got enough resources to deal with whatever unintended consequences may arise. so in 10 years, when you have a robust alumni of all these qataris who are graduates of northwestern university qatar and carnegie mellon university qatar and georgetown university, all of these, when you have a robust group of alumni, they
start asking questions about transparency and lack of accountability and when they start politicking, how do you deal with it? i think theh assumption is, wel, we've got enough resources to deal with it at that time. professor tucker. >> thank you very much. looking forward to reading your book. >> thank you. >> so recently one has notice, there seems to be a uptick of sorts, an uptick in the level of public discourse internationally on the labor issues, in the gulf in general but in qatari in particular in connection with the world cup and sort of hype every building programs related to hosting the cup. >> right. >> so i'm wondering if, how this is registering, if it is registering? if there is any visible reactioi on the part of this small group
of key decision-makers what appears to be shaping up as a more significant public relations problem they have had in the past in this area? >> that's right. that is another excellent question. first and foremost i should say that with power comes power curse because you start attracting the wrong kind of attention. once you start getting involved in, and becoming visible, then,h things become fair game and you open yourself up to scrutiny. which is exactly what happened in qatar. the qataris are extremely sensitive to their image. and as i mentioned branding is one of their main concerns and how qatar is perceived. and there have been surprisingly very concerned domestically about this, what is turning out to be an image problem.
and so qatar's ministry of labor has, had several high-profile meetings and announcements saying they're going to address these and they're going to look into conditions, living conditions of mike grant labor. now to what extent this is meaningful and to what extent there will be follow-up is of course yet to be seen over time but certainly there is keen i awareness that this sort of publicity can really attract the wrong kind of attention and can ruin the qatar brand. so there has been remarkable sensitivity over ther last coupe of weeks to the report by the guardian. there have been front-page news stories about looking at conditions but at the same time there has been also an attempt to say, well, what "the
guardian" newspaper reported ana videos are out of context and very exaggerated. there has been some of that. at the same time there seems what like a genuine attempt to address the problem. yes? the lady. >> thank you for an very engaging talk. i have a related question i think. seems like part of this aspect of qatar's reputation around the world has to do with this idea or this excuse that something about qatari culture makes it inevitable or inherent they will be somehow less democratic and it seems to kind of fly in the face of this active modernism they're trying to do with other forms in terms of agriculture and developing technology and i was wondering how aware these politicalen figures we're talkig about are actively promoting
this kind of excuse of non-democratic culture reasons versus trying to pursue development? >> i'm not sure if they phrase or frame the discussion in the terms that you describe, at least not quite in those terps. one thing that qatar has tried to position itself as is a successful bridge between science and islamic tradition. in fact in 2010 doha was chosen as the culture capital of the arab world, much to the chagrin of cairo and damascus and other real capital of arab culture or historic capitals of arab culture but one of the things we've seen is a very deliberate attempt on the part of qataris to say that modernity and arab
culture and arab heritage are not necessarily antithetical. they can easily and successfully synthesized together. so we see this for example, in the invitation of these american universities. wed see this in that qatar has, set aside 2.8% of its national budget to scientific researchqa. that's an amazing amount. in many ways unparalleled elsewhere, at least in the middle east that i know of. and so there's a very deliberate effort to foster progress.a but at the same time with anst eye, you don't have to abandon the assumption is, your tradition. you don't have to abandon your culture. if you look at the national vision of the country, qatar 2030, the national vision, is a document supposed to guide the state's attempts and agendas
over the next couple decades. there is very deliberate attention progress and modernity on the one hand and preserving culture and tradition on the other. interesting the qatari state and some of its main leaders often times make a deliberate effort to say, this is what sets qatar apart from countries like dubai or an emirate like dubai where dubai tries to completely ignore tradition and completely abandon what is gulf or unique to its tradition and heritage.pl we foster progress and modernit at the same time as we're careful about our tradition. professor, i look to you to let me know how long to go. so i'm at your disposal and at the disposal of everybody. i am, it's now about 2:00,
3:00 a.m. doha time. so we have all day. so we have all day. >> professor, my good friend. >> thank you. >> i am from university of lyno, france. thank you for the presentation of qatar. i would like to come back to the labor issue. i think it's a very serious problem, at least, international necessity and many are talking about the issue of slavery. in your answer to this issue you said that the qatari government is trying to fix the problem. my question is, there is a way
to fix the image of qatar abroad or to fix the problem with this? >> good question.le well,m i think you start out wih the assumption that there is a problem and and i wish we had an hour or two to discuss this the question is why does labor keep coming, if the problem is so dire, if their situation is so dire. as we commonly assume there is a modern form of slavery? much why is there inexhaustible to stream of labor coming to qatar or elsewhere in the region? is it as desire as we think it is? or does thef average constructin worker in qatar earn eight times the amount that he would earn had he stayed in nepal or india
back home? so i think there are major problems. there is abuse. there is horrible conditions. there are, no doubt there is all sorts of exploitation. there might indeed in fact be in instances certain types of slavery but at the same time i think we need to context alizees and not generalize on the on the condition of all migrant workers. i think one of the things we need to keep in mind is that the situation is extremely complex. there are people who can make tremendous amounts of money, go back. there are massive amounts of remittances. there are so many, so much remittances going back that recently the government of the united arab emirates said, we want to tax remittances because taxing those remittances is huge
revenue stream, revenue stream for the u.a.e. i don't think that is quite workable and qataris are don't to do it or haven't announced they are going to do it but i think the situation of migrant workers is extremely complex and i don't think we can say based on anecdotal evidence that we hear we can generalize that all workers are in a dire predictment.al having said youi will of that i realize i'm explaining or trying to talk about an extremely complex, very emotionally-charged subject in a couple of seconds and which i can't do justice too but think it is important to keep in mind there are people who make a lot of money and there are people who are exploited and whosem passports are confiscated and are not paid for months and work
in horrible conditions and have to go back to horrible camps but at the same time, there are those that, who are much better off, working as migrant workers in qatar than they would be had they stayed. and, again the question of, if it is so bad why do they keepr coming back? i think it is an important question to address.b yes, sir? >> could you please talk about what is qatar hoping to achieve by hosting the world cup in 2024? and to what extent they will achieve those goals? >> well it is trying to achieve the same thing as it tried to do back in 1996 and same thing it tried to19 do back in 2006 whent hosted thet asian cups. what it tried to do back in 2012 when it hosted the asian
football or soccer tournament. it's trying to achieve branding. it's trying to sayo that it is not just a member, that it is consequential and it is important within the arabian peninsula and important in the middle east and in fact beyond. so all of those projects, the national airline, these high-rise buildings, these, hosting the world cup, hosting all of these are showcase projects designed to enhance the country's brand and its image. yes? in the back. >> thank you, professor kamrava. my question you talked about qatar's hedging. now do you think qatar's hedging in syria, libya, egypt, have failed basically or, like in the
last three months we've seen how people in egypt, how qataris, muslim brotherhood and it failed and libya people are starting to talk about qatar interfering with domestic politics. in syria, that is taking a back step to saudi arabia. we've seen that even yesterday in there peace conference that s going on in london. so what do you think, do you think that qatar's hedging have failed or they messed up in their hedging? >> that's a very good question. hedging is a risky, by nature it's gamble and it's an incredibly risky foreign policy. and in addition to things that you mentioned, about a month ago somebody put a sign on the qatar airways office at the tripoli airport saying we don't want you, go away. then qatar airways yet was not
allowed to land in tripoli i believe. and so it had to grow back, go to alexandria egypt and land. it finally made its way to tripoli. so qatar, it has taken a back seat in syria, certainly in relation to saudi arabia and, a couple of weeks ago, the government of egypt, talk about a slap in the face, returned to qatar $2 billion that qatar had given in the form of long-term loans and grants to the egyptian government. so the question as you posed is, whether or not qatar hedging strategy has failed? i'm not sure., i think it could very well have failed.o it could very well have backfired. i think, these are setbacks. my hunch is that in the long
term, qatar has positioned itself. the one thing about power to keep in mind is the creation of conditions. . . become favorable and you can cash in and call in favors when you want it. so you might take a couple of hits in the short term and these things in the examples that we just mentioned could be a couple of short-term situations that doha and qatar is suffering. i'm reluctant to say that this is part of a longtime series of setbacks that are pulling back the influence regionally and globally and it just so happens that as these things are happening, there is a leadership transition that has taken place. and the new leader has a
decidedly different style and his foreign minister has a very different style than the former foreign minister and a very different personality and style and he doesn't seek this limelight and he is not thirsty or hungry for the global stage in the same way that the others were ordered as far as the former prime minister goes. interestingly, the former prime minister was also the minister of foreign affairs and the current prime minister is also the minister of internal affairs and there appears to be a more inward focus that is in line solidifying up there. in the long-term things could change. and in it goes right now, there is a new style of leaders that has had this effect on the
foreign policy of the country and at least in its diplomacy is not a foreign policy. >> yes? >> okay, i will comment. >> all right, thank you so much. thank you for this interesting talk. with the presence of this in the energy industry, are we concerned that over the long-term we have sought diversity in the economy that we have become so dependent upon, particularly that of natural gas. and so much that it seems to be changing in the energy industry with unconditional sources of energy becoming more fruitful. are we concerned that the recent success in excluding those natural resources might become less of this?
>> there is a rhetoric and there is a reality. a rhetoric is that we are trying to foster a knowledge-based economy and so the new buzzword, the last two years the buzzword has been a knowledge-based economy in preparation for this. and a knowledge-based economy is great. it sounds very exciting and interesting and it doesn't, at least in the political system, and a fundamentally based economy, it is far from reality. the actual reality is that what qatar is trying to do is prepare itself through this international investment. so it uses the sovereign wealth
to position itself in a way that can bring the revenues with its liquefied natural gas, when that source dries up. one thing that doha and qatar does is that it has, as you know, it is the world's largest supplier of liquefied natural gas and it also has long-term contracts with its purchasers and these usually go for 20 or 30 years. and so it is not as vulnerable to the vague areas of the market as for a country like saudi arabia might be. yes? >> thank you. this is so interesting. and there have been so many good questions. and i am going to ask the celebrity gossip question.
and what is this -- what is he doing now that he is no longer part of this? also in a country where there are so few decision-makers and so many people that drive the agenda and what is their role moving ahead? and what are they doing in the meantime? >> that is a very good question and i don't think that anyone is in a position to answer. the official title is the father and so he does have an official title as the father and he was recently photographed in paris attending a horse race in paris. and i think that this is a way of retirement and it does not meant for him to be a backseat driver or for the former prime
minister to still be able to be active. it is a retirement that is in the making and it is easy in hindsight to second guess and say that i knew that this was going to happen. back in 2010 there were some rumors that becausepen. back in 2010 there were some rumors that because of this, because of his health he was going to retire and then abdicate in favor of his son. but then the arab spring heads and heat of this, the assumption is that it wasn't the right time to fire will only put them up up up up up up and some have to do with his state of health in his up retirement and he is not enjoying retirement. remember the foreign prime
minister and him are incredibly wealthy people and they are enjoying their retirement and style. >> so much for gossip. >> yes, sir? [inaudible question] >> two more questions. [inaudible] >> thank you so much, professor. to what extent is the continued prominence of qatar, but particularly in playing this role with the united states. it is significant for a couple of financial security reasons. and so this extends to saudi arabia with the hundreds of millions who have spent on this from the u.s. and other countries, the contractors are maintaining that and similar if you look at the industry and
correct me if i am wrong it is essentially part of this western staff and there is not really a positive way to maintain that. in a situation where in the u.s. or the west, maybe thinking of reducing its military or political footprint is part of their continued prominence. thank you. >> excellent question. a couple of things that are important to keep in mind is that qatar is a hyperactive diplomacy and it is risk-taking that would not have been made possible had it not been made for its firm position under the american security umbrella. so the fact that the united states maintains the largest forward base in the world has a
lot to do with their ability in the sense of security to then pursue a hyperactive diplomacy and to engage in many of the ambitious and diplomatic system said it wants to do. and so the american security affords him the opportunity to do many of the things that they would otherwise not would have been able to do. and one correction to one thing that you mentioned and thanks to wiki leaks, we know compared to all of the other gulf states, doha and qatar spencer markedly little on its military. and again, it is part of the genius of the foreign policy. they know that the americans are there. and so why spend millions or billions of dollars in the same way that the saudi's do on this and there's a very interesting
situation where the military commanders, he says my budget keeps getting cut and i would like more of a budget that is cut by 10%, which is really interesting because the government was secured in the fact that the united states is there is a why bother spending money on this. having said that, recently, they have placed a couple of military purchases on this. and so having said all of this for the last 35 years all of the states of the gulf cooperation council have cooperated and trent cooperated on attention of america with iran and they have seen these tensions as an opportunity to position themselves as america's allies
with the former ally in this state and the former ally being for all intensive purposes being dismembered and in shambles and all of these states, all of them, and the united arab emirate have capitalized on these tensions. the big unknown variable is what is going to happen if those tensions between us and the united states get reduced? and we see the saudi arabia and in particular, they are extremely nervous. and we know that they have beards. they are as nervous as prime minister benjamin netanyahu of a possible reduction of tensions
between the two parties. so what would they do then with the iranian bogeyman who is no longer there. and that is the thing we have to look at. [inaudible] >> it is my pleasure. >> going back to big politics, asking you whether you see this as we transform ourselves into a global city. do you also see this handful of those who are willing and do you see them engaging in some of these global issues like global warming and the spread of epidemic diseases in these kinds of issues? or is the habit of this is a foreign policy strategy, will
this develop any kind of systematic approach to these issues that we will surely have to impact in the long-term? >> yes, thank you. that's an excellent last question. small states in general often specialize in particular issues. and they become what might be called entrepreneurs. they specialize in a specific norm and then that becomes their area of expertise. norway, for example or other small states. they specialize in one particular issue. and it is no exception. qatar is no exception. at the same time i have mentioned this preoccupation.
not only have they been very active in a dialogue of civilizations, other global figures trying to reverse this clash of civilization, global class of civilization, or to add remedies in some ways. and so doha sanctions itself as a hub and a force for some of these global dialogues. now, in addition to all these, you mentioned through to get. for, food security is a real tangible threat and a major concern. it's a real concern and since the price hikes of 2007-2008, the food price hike of 2007-2008 have specialized and made a deliberate effort to place themselves as one of the pioneers of advancing food security issues.
and so not only to enable their own food security but also to see what are some of the ways in which global food security issues can be addressed. and so what the qatarees are trying to do, from necessity and as well is to enhance their own brand, and also because structurally they are small state and specialize in some of these meech areas. as a result qatar has been extreme active and on the forefront of issues like one of empowerment, food security, science and technology, and now they're building what is a mammoth research hospital in order to address some of the major diseases that are endemic to the region. with tremendous wealth comes also some disea,