QATAR: The Sheik Steps Down

Miserable little Qatar (pop. 35,000), a sun-seared knuckle of sand and stone jutting into the Persian Gulf, was a latecomer in the Middle East oil boom. But when oil poured out in 1949 and the gold started pouring in, wizened old (69) Sheik Ali bin Abdullah bin Qasim Al Thani had no trouble adjusting his spending habits to those of the other sheiks of Araby.

At Doha, capital of Qatar (pronounced gutter), gaudy pink, green and gold palaces sprang up around the huddle of malodorous mud hovels; one vast pile, reserved for the visiting heads of state, was equipped with air...

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