We leave Qatar tomorrow. I can't believe that I've been here for two weeks. It feels as though I just arrived! And since I overpacked, I could actually stay for almost another week. :)
During dinner tonight Denny asked what my impressions of Qatar have been and what I'll tell people back in the States. I have found this place to be wonderful. There are so many interesting things to experience and see. There is culture, tradition, growth, wonderful food, beautiful views, and interesting people.
Education City is an amazing project and I look forward to staying in touch with the folks I've met who work here. I'm eager to see how the Qatar Foundation brings its vision for EC to fruition. The unofficial information I heard from a few people is a goal of 10,000 university students. That's huge!
I'm happy to have had a chance to learn more about the Muslim culture. As I had assumed, it is not an aggressive or barbaric group of people (even though I think this is how they are portrayed in the US). Yes, there are militant followers of Islam who do cross the line, but these people cannot be allowed to serve as the sole representation for the Arab world. And shame on anyone (media and news!) for perpetuating that. The Emir and Her Highness seem to be progressive leaders for Qatar. Perhaps their leadership will help others know and understand the Arab world better. Or at least this small part of it.
I hope to come back to see the progress the city makes. There is an incredible amount construction (did you know it is estimated that 90% of the world's cranes are in the Gulf?)! I'd love to see the result of it all.
All of this may sound a bit sunshiney and maybe it is. There are problems in Doha. One example is how the immigrant work force is treated. They are seen and treated as the lowest class in many, many ways. Clearly the Arab world has a history of issues, the most current being the situation between Israel and Gaza. However, the participants from LeaderShape give me hope. Their insights and ideas for the future are inspiring. Each of us can impact our community in great and positive ways. Let us take action and do just that! To quote our incoming President, "Yes we can!"
Thanks for a wonderful experience, Qatar!
PS: I will do my best to upload our pics to flickr and post the link here, just in case you are interested in a pictorial of the trip.