What the richest country in the world looks like

Written by Andrew Henderson

Last updated April 14, 2017

Dateline: Doha, Qatar

I’ve been on the move lately and, as a study in capitalism, I decided that I was going to visit the world’s wealthiest country.

It may not come as a surprise that the world’s wealthiest country wasn’t as well settled until recently. The fact that it has a long coastline didn’t help much.

As a result, this place is really diverse. There is the amazement of the big city… but also wide open spaces. In one corner you have bankers; in another corner you have herders managing their flocks in rural areas.

With so much open land, it isn’t surprising that most of the country’s population lives on the eastern seaboard.

In addition to being the richest country in the world, this country is of course substantially wealthy than the other countries in the region. Some of these other countries have great prospects but suffer from “banana republic” authoritarian governments that keep productivity down.

And while there are some racial tensions in this wealthy country, for the most part people still want to come and work here, even from thousands of miles away. In fact, in some areas there are far more foreign workers than locals.

Sure, some people look down on these poorer workers, but it is that immigration that has allowed this wealthy country to bask in endless air conditioning and the luxuries of life.

Ownership of luxury cars is one of the highest in the world per capita. And consumer spending has posted impressive increases in recent quarters.

And as a result of such wealth, this country has desired to play some role in world politics. They supported some of the Arab Spring uprisings a few years ago and are one of the most influential centers of journalism in the world.

And they’ve amassed amazing wealth thanks to rich oil and gas deposits and a commitment to energy jobs.

Now, by all measures, I could be referring to the United States.

But I’m not.

Because the United States, despite what many US persons will tell you, is far from the richest country in the world. So are most influential European countries.

In fact, the richest country in the world is right here in Qatar.

Qatar is a very interesting case study for wealth. Of course, it’s no secret that the place has been wildly successful as a result of its oil wealth. However, the country has also become a center for international trade and banking, competing with the neighboring UAE financial centers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Qatar is also home to the world’s only “five star airline”, Qatar Airways, which I can confirm offers excellent service. You can’t even compare it to the slop service you get from rapidly devaluing US airlines, which I now refuse to fly they are so bad.

The airport here is sparkling and easy to navigate. Things here just seem to work.

So what has Qatar done to make itself the richest nation on earth?

It would be easy to say that the country’s vast oil reserves tell the entire tale. And while Qatar would indeed just be another speck in the desert if it weren’t for the petroleum business, so would Singapore be a humid swamp and Panama… well, a slightly less humid swamp.

For some time now, I’ve been telling you that small countries are better aligned for success for several reasons:

1. Small countries don’t have huge native tax bases to rely on. Qatar has fewer than 300,000 native Qataris and a 5:1 ratio of expatriates to locals. That makes the local population here smaller than the entire country of Iceland. Qatar couldn’t simply tax a bunch of tax slaves/

2. Small countries have to exploit their resources. Countries like the United States can sit around and debate whether to extract oil or gas reserves from the ground. They can complain about their banking sector, or regulate everything from the automotive industry to the plastic bag industry out of business. They figure that they are so good

3. Small countries rarely see a need to fight for some “greater good”. Talk about Normandy or D-Day all you want; since World War II, the western world has been a meddler much more than it has been any kind of force for good.

Yet hundreds of trillions of dollars worldwide have been siphoned from western tax coffers into the pockets of government cronies in the military industrial complex. If you live in a high-tax western country, you footed that bill.

A bill you wouldn’t have had to foot if you lived in a more neutral country that focused on building wealth rather than fighting wars. It’s amazing how, after racking up nearly $20 trillion in debt (and that’s just what the government admits to), Americans and westerners are finally saying “let the Iraqis fight for themselves”. By the time countries make these realizations, it is usually far too late.

The economic damage is irreversible.

The United States and Europe are like the snarky smart kids in high school who figure they don’t need to study because they’re so much smarter than everyone else. That strategy may work for awhile, but generally those kids get passed up by the kids that work their tails off.

You can have all the oil you want, but if your politicians bungle the job and leave it all sitting in the ground, you’ll be just as poor as some country whose borders are filled with nothing but sand.

When your money is on the line, you should always bet on the place that has to work hard to be successful. You can say that the Middle East only has any wealth because of oil, but somehow the oil-rich United States failed to learn how that works.

One of my favorite books, The Geography of Bliss, tells a story of going around Qatar and seeing nothing but Bentleys and Maseratis driven by Qataris who had full-time maids, nannies for their children, and barely had to do anything. Most people in the west do not have these things. Even rich people in the United States spend Saturdays cleaning their own house.

While the average Qatari sees over six figures a year, the average American or European earns far less than that.

When a country puts more thought into getting its resources out of the ground and to market – including using those resources to prop up their own leading airline – rather than resting on its laurels and finding new ways to tax and harass its citizens, prosperity is a frequent result.

I mean, when was the last time anyone went out of their way to fly through the Detroit airport? Or JFK? Or that dump they call LAX? Those airports, just like the cities they sit in, decided they didn’t have to innovate.

Now, they’re becoming obsolete, and US airline CEOs have resorted to ad hominem attacks to feel better about their declining fortunes.

They figured, as I recently heard a US Customs agent say, “the USA is THE place to be”, and that they didn’t have to compete. They figured they could treat those they interact with with disdain, raising their taxes and subjecting them to inferior service.

That’s the attitude of an empire. And history is littered with empires that have come and gone.

The western governments that have overseen empires in centuries past can’t seem to understand that they no longer “have it”. My money is on the little-known places that are less style and more substance.

This shift in wealth has had an effect: consumers here in the Middle East are increasingly being sought after by international companies. Add me to that list; we recently started a business that works with Middle East customers. The simple reason is that they are simply better customers than Americans for what we’re doing in that business.

Andrew Henderson
Last updated: Mar 2, 2020 at 3:46PM

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  1. Jess

    Donors from Qatar are also generous in funding the spread of Islam and its concept of violent “jihad” which is responsible for violence against non-Muslims. If you read the Koran and the hadiths you will be shocked at what Islam actually teaches its believers. I noticed in the past that you said people in the West referred to Muslim majority countries as “eeevil” Muslim countries but are you aware of how Christians are being treated in Malaysia by Muslims (in direct accordance with their Islamic texts)? I am all for your blog, but I don’t agree with turning a blind eye to awful things that are happening there and reporting on it as though these are not factors one should consider. There is a legitimate reason why these countries gained the reputation of being “eeevil.” Their “holy” Koran (and hadiths) teach killing, beheading and the taking of sex slaves against “unbelievers.” It’s not radical Islam but actually normative Islam. Their “prophet” from “God” was a thief, mass murderer, rapist and pedophile but yet Islam says he is the “perfect man” to be emulated as much as possible. This is the reason for the horrible treatment of non-Muslims by Muslims. The mainstream media behaves as though there is an enormous distinction between the two. Islamic texts themselves are inherently “radical” in their own right so calling them violent “extremists” is a redundant term. Based on what Qatar has been doing, I don’t want to associate in business with this country and inadvertently support what they are doing. They do deserve to be boycotted. The same for all halal certified foods as it is impossible now, to know for certain where this money is going. Some has indeed been used to fund terrorism. I believe in doing business but not in being a entirely selfish and disregarding my principles in doing so.

    • Tareq Saleh

      We all know where this copy and paste smear campaign to demonize Islam
      and Muslims comes from. It appears in every blog and forum with same words
      spread by Zionist electronic squads.

      I will not counter such ridiculous accusations in this limited space.
      But let me remind everybody that what the crimes and wars committed by Nazis and
      colonists throughout history were not inspired by the Old Testament which is
      full of hate, discrimination and evil, but by a small fanatic group that
      manipulated millions of innocent people to engage in the most horrific acts
      human being had ever known.

      Thanks God that the total number of mislead so called “muslin terrorists”
      is still far less than any of the murderous Jewish or Christian expeditions in
      any spot on earth.

  2. Truth teller

    Tareq says: “I will not counter such ridiculous accusations in this limited space.”

    I really want to call peoples’ attention to this; especially those who are in business and want to make a difference. Many Muslims attempt to discount what people are saying when people tell the truth about Islam. Calling Islam “the religion of peace” is a lie which is partially responsible for inaction and is continuing to get people killed. It has never been peaceful. Not from day 1.

    You know why you don’t attempt to counter it Tareq? Because Islamic texts are indefensible and you know it because being Muslim, you have read them. And the behaviour carried out for 1,000 plus years in DIRECT accordance with those Islamic texts, by Muslims is indefensible. The violence has never ceased. It is just that people weren’t aware of it. Being Muslim, you are likely to fob this off but you cannot. Lying to further the cause of Islam is also permitted in Islam. Please just be honest about what is written in them. You and the rest of the Muslims who keep fobbing people off for telling the truth.

    The violent individuals very often have emerged from non-violent or “moderate” families within the Muslim community itself. I know this from reading the stories and I know this because one half of my family who are non-Muslims have been born and bred alongside a large Muslim minority in which girls were kidnapped, raped and then beheaded. They impaled pregnant women with knives and then cut their bodies into half. My own family members were shot and another two kidnapped. What is happening with ISIS is nothing new. Muslim groups attempted this in their hometown 40 odd years ago, complete with the black flag; just like ISIS. Different name to ISIS but the same idea. The ideas came from the Islamic texts themselves. I have had family members who worked previously in their intelligence unit and in the military and the biggest challenge that they faced was getting the Muslim community and family of the violent individuals to cooperate with authorities. They would not do it. They keep giving money to their mosque and the violent individuals use it to buy guns and bullets and many more people have been killed. Islamic texts also approve of those Muslims who give money to violent jihad by saying those who “prepare” a fighter for jihad has “fought.” You might have to dig through the texts to find this; but it’s there. The wife of an ISIS fighter used that very verse in the Islamic text to appeal to the Muslim community on her blog when asking for funding for ISIS activities.

    The ones who kill non-Muslims in the name of Allah (God) get a free pass to paradise. Other Muslims do not get this assurance. Therefore, this is powerful motivator to turn to violence.
    Sexual slavery of non-Muslims is “allowed” by “God” according to Islamic texts. Read for yourself.

    There are no open commands for violence written in the Old Testament. They are specific to a period of time, and to a specific group only. They are of the descriptive, and not directive variety in other instances.

    Hitler himself said “The peoples of Islam will always be closer to us than, for example, France.” He even included Muhammad- the prophet of Islam- who was a mass murderer, rapist, pedophile, extortionist (and the list goes on) as someone to look to for “spiritual sustenance.” Jew hatred is written in the Qur’an- it refers to Jews as “apes and pigs.”

    The Islamic texts are OPEN commands for violence toward non-Muslims. There is nothing which restricts this at all; which is why the violence has been so ongoing. It says THIS of non-Muslims-

    “And KILL them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing…but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)” <– this is not in the context of being defensive because Muhammad and his Muslims had just relocated to Medina and were not under attack by their Meccan adversaries. In fact, the verses urge offensive warfare, in that Muslims are to drive Meccans out of their own city (which they later did).

    There have been in excess of 24,000 deadly terrorist attacks since 9/11 alone. Tareq, you choose to say "peace be upon" Muhammad, a mass murderer, rapist and pedophile. It is shocking that Muslims attempt to discount this as though it is excusable. Murder, rape and pedophilia are outlawed and yet, it is still socially acceptable for Muslims to say "Allah SWT" (even though their version of Allah/God permits murder, rape, and extortion? Is it socially acceptable for people to say "peace be upon" Muhammad after each mention of his name, even though their own texts describe the horrendous things that he did? That would be like saying "peace be upon" Hitler. Though Muhammad was as bad, if not worse than Hitler.

    My advice? Read the Islamic texts for yourself. Not just the Koran, but the hadith as well. You will not get the full picture by merely reading the Koran. The hadith contains what Muhammad did. The Koran is not easy reading because it jumps all over the place but be patient and read through it anyway. Muhammd's actions are the cornerstone of Islam because without Muhammad as the "messenger," the Koran itself would not be there.

    It's about time the world woke up to this problem so we can actually do something about it.

    Don't listen to Muslims or those who haven't read these texts or who have little experience with Muslim violence, tell you what you're saying isn't true. The peaceful verses in the Koran have been abrogated but they twist this and say they have not been.
    Read the history. Read what is in COMMON between Hamas, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic Salvation Front, Abu Sayaff and the list goes on. The answer is, Islam and Muhammad.

  3. Roman Blanty

    Did you open the Bible as well?