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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
The New Arab World
First broadcast on BBC World Service in July 2006

Television screen and remote control

In recent years, a number of Gulf countries have been making progress towards economic, social and even limited political reforms.

These advances are so rapid that many believe the Gulf - once seen as a relatively backward region - could one day eclipse the Arab world's more established centres of influence, such as Egypt and Lebanon.

The BBC's Arab Affairs Analyst Magdi Abdelhadi investigates how far these changes might go.

Part Three: Qatar

Qatar is approaching the future from a different angle and making its presence felt in another way.

It has led the media revolution in the Arab world by creating the iconic and globally recognised al-Jazeera satellite channel. It's meant that tiny Qatar has had an enormous impact on the governments, politics and people of every country across the Arab world.

But Qatar knows it cannot stand still. A Qatari biotech company has teamed up with General Electric to do research into areas as diverse as Alzheimers's disease and desalination.

And political reform is underway - the Emir of Qatar is pressing ahead with plans to make his country a constitutional monarchy.

Where does Qatar see its future, particularly with a neighbour as conservative and powerful as Saudi Arabia? With whom will it make alliances and where do its ideas and influences come from?

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