Qatar is a tiny Middle Eastern country that juts into the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf and shares a border with Saudi Arabia. One royal family rules the country under Islamic Sharia law but the culture is considered liberal for the region and the government is a long-standing ally of the United States. Qatar is perhaps best-known as the home of Al Jazeera, the pioneering Arabic news network, and increasingly, cultural attractions like the new I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art and the Doha Tribeca Film Festival.
For a long time Qatar was a dusty backwater whose main industry was pearl diving. But in recent decades the discovery that the country sits on massive reserves of natural gas has sent its economy rocketing into the stratosphere. Today its GDP per capita of $145,300 is the highest in the world. Comparisons are often drawn between its capital of Doha and the oil-rich cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, though Doha is less developed and smaller than either. For now.
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