Friday, March 19, 2010
1130am – 230pm Camel Races
2:30pm – 5:30pm Al Jazeera Television
By far, today has been the best of the trip with respect to entertainment. And last night was a hard act to follow at the Ministers Club. I am still a bit overstuffed after that meal. So, off to the Camel races we went…..but first we stopped by a high ranking official’s personal museum. My brother Stacy, a big fan of old cars, would have loved this tour along with my dad. A vintage GTO, mint condition Cadillacs, BMW motorcycles, 1978 Pontiac Thunderbird, a water well…YES!! I said a water well..and it was quite deep……a small airplane..YES!! again…I said an airplane. ….fantastic art pieces…a few buses……weapons that included guns, knives, arrow heads from the 8th century…models of Islamic homes from the 18th century…. models of tents showcasing life in the desert….just amazing collection of personal property that was apparently started 10 years ago. We must have walked through 4-5 decent sized buildings that contained all of the above prized collections. So, after soaking in all that one could possibly look at in astonishment, then it was time to see our guest’s farm before we went to the Camel races.
We didn’t get out of the bus but did see a few peacocks walking around in the 36o C
But when we arrived at the stable with the camels, we had to get out and up close. I counted about 8-10 camels ranging in age 1-3 years old….worth $1M-4M per camel depending on the age and ability. There was a young camel who was very playful and curious to meet us. She nibbled at my feet a few times, ran after Shawn a couple of times, and nudged up again Ali once or twice. Our host told us how he bought certain camels, raised and sold others who had won many races for him. It is obvious that he does this for fun and not for income purposes. United Nation’s representative Jean Cristoph Bathe asked many times in different ways how do they made any money off of the camels, especially if gambling is not allowed in the country. But our host would simply smile and laugh….we stopped at “the house” to watch some of the camel races. I guess this was simply a teaser before we actually went to the track. The house didn’t look like a home from the outside, but once we entered, it had an entertainment room (with pool table, exercise equipment), kitchen, bathroom, and just the essentials. It felt good to get out of the 36 degree weather. Little did I know, but French correspondent and Fellow classmate Nabila asked me to film the camel race and an interview with our host and staff.
check out the start of the race --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wer9ZPp7wzs
So, the came race is one you have to witness. Like a horse race, they come to a gate and burst out once the gate doors are open. The camels are “encouraged” to run faster by the jockey sitting on its back. However, the jockey is no larger than 13 inches in height. It is a robot with a whip that moves in a circular fashion controlled by the owner riding alongside the track in a bus or car. <insert video>. Again, something you have to watch for yourself to believe it.
And then, it was off to Al Jazeera Television – the international news channel network. THe name refers to the Arabian peninsula, the network's geographic origin. The value in this visit was understanding how the network was created, how it is different from others, and its significance in the MENA region. We met with the CEO who described how the network approaches real world events and broadcasts that reality. There was some debate between a Fellow and the CEO as it whether the editorial process compromises the truth of the event. A healthy debate is always good, right?
Well, the final leg in the day was dinner back at the hotel (kinda boring, right??) and some packing for the flight back to Los Angeles beginning Saturday morning (1235am)
Phase 8 Qatar
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Today’s agenda –
8am-12pm Qatar Foundation
1230 - 130pm Silatech
2:00 - 6:00pm Qatar Museum of Islamic Art
7:30pm Dinner at Ministers CLub
The Qatar Foundation can somewhat be described in the same category of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – “limitless” financial resources with targeted giving areas. The Qatar Foundation has established a number of initiatives to raise the level of awareness and competency of the area’s educational, research, and business resources. We visited Georgetown and Northwestern University campuses, met with Qatar Foundation representatives, and walked the huge campus that includes a research complex, the university campuses, and a few more NGOs that makeup Education City……very impressive indeed. The representatives at each stop described a community that is still growing (e.g. Georgetown graduated its first class last year = 74 members) but growing its partnership base at a rapid pace. They are all eager to attract the best and brightest minds to the area to help put Qatar on the map.