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Emir of Qatar Hosted by the UCLA Ronald W. Burkle Center for International RelationsDoha, capital of Qatar.

Emir of Qatar Hosted by the UCLA Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations

The Emir of Qatar and his wife, the Sheikha Mozah, meet leading UCLA, Los Angeles, and Hollywood figures at the home of Ronald W. Burkle.

By Leslie Evans

The UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations and Ronald W. Burkle, managing partner of The Yucaipa Companies, hosted a banquet for the Emir of Qatar Thursday evening, September 23, at the Beverly Hills home of Ronald Burkle. Some 80 guests, drawn from Los Angeles business, political, and entertainment circles met and dined with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, his wife  Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, first deputy premier and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor al-Thani, and a delegation of other leaders from the Qatari government.

The dinner ceremonies were chaired by Geoffrey Garrett, director of the Burkle Center and vice provost of UCLA's International Institute. Garrett praised the Emir for his reform program and for the massive investment he has made to establish Education City, a multibillion dollar project of the Qatar Foundation. Education City includes Qatar branch campuses of Carnegie Mellon University, for business and communications; an engineering school run by Texas A&M; a medical school run by Cornell University; and a campus of Virginia Commonwealth University for art and communications. UCLA also has growing ties with the Qatar Foundation's Education City..

The Emir was introduced by UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale and made a few brief remarks, stressing the good relations between the United States and his country:

"Relations between the United States and Qatar are diverse and rich, and are founded on a solid basis of mutual interests and common values that focus on the respect of all noble human values. And we are determined to work with you in a spirit of partnership and trust to strengthen and deepen these relations."

The Emir also discussed the common economic interests Qatar has with the United States in the Dolphin Gas Project, which is building a 260 mile pipeline to move Qatar's enormous reserves of natural gas from the North Dome gas field to the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The Qataris, he said, "remember very well that the American companies [have been] putting the Qatari economy every year higher and higher." With proven reserves of 509 trillion cubic feet, Qatar's natural gas resources rank third in the world behind Russia and Iran.

The Emir also noted the growing ties between American universities and his country. "Actually we want to bring the American university from America. They started opening branches of American universities in our country. The people there are realizing that this is good for the future of their children. So you can now see the Qataris sending their boys and girls, pushing them hard to join those universities."

Geoffrey Garrett then asked the Sheikha Mozah to say a few words about the work she has been doing on education in Qatar. The Sheikha Mozah replied that she viewed Education City and the multiple new college campuses "as an engine of change for Qatar." She continued, "We are trying to achieve changes, and we are trying to achieve changes in a way that again will make us prosperous countries where the citizens can be united. In order to have effective citizens we need to have effective countries. And to achieve this we need to start with education." She said that her government had invited the various American universities "to come and open campuses there, to make the environment of the university a commanding  focus. . . . We are creating an environment where our people could achieve, because they have the potential but they haven't had the environment, as they deserved. We have the natural resources and we have to couple this with our human resources."

Sheikha Mozah concluded, "I think we can give them [people of Qatar] hope that with reforms and the democratic process, with a good environment, they can also be successful. Reforms of education and political reforms. Creating categories of quality and equality, these are our goals. We are trying to do that and I can say that we have achieved something so far on this route of what we want to achieve."

Burkle Center for International Relations