Gov. Martin O’Malley and his wife, Judge Catherine Curran O’Malley, took off Friday night from Dulles Airport on Qatar Airlines daily flight to Doha, capital of the small emirate on the Persian Gulf.
The stop in Doha got virtually no advanced publicity as part of O’Malley’s six-day trip to India, but he appears to have had a busy day there, according to tweets from the governor and Christian Johansson, secretary of Business and Economic Development.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Ziadeh briefed O’Malley on “Qatari culture, business and trade,” Johansson said. According to her official biography, Ziadeh has only been on the job two months, but she is a career foreign service diplomat with wide experience in the Middle East, including postings in Baghdad, Riyadh, Amman and Jerusalem.
Johansson reports the governor had “a productive meeting” with the amir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
The Al Thani family has ruled the small state in the Persian Gulf since the 1800s. According to the CIA World Factbook, the country is about the size of Connecticut and has a population of 848,000 with the second highest per capita income in the world due to its oil and gas reserves.
The capital is home to the Al-Jazeera news network, which broadcasts throughout the Arab world. (The country, a strong U.S. ally, has not had legislative elections in 40 years.)
“I’m looking forward to future economic collaboration,” O’Malley himself tweeted after meeting the amir.
Saturday night, O’Malley and the delegation had dinner with the CEO of Q-tel, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani. Q-tel, a fast growing international telecom owned mostly by the state, has “strong interest in mobile medicine and working with MD firms,” Johansson tweeted. According to his corporate bio, Sheik Saud was a British trained military pilot and also attended the U.S. Senior Army War College in nearby Carlisle, Pa.
The governor met with the chairman of Barwa, Qatar’s largest real estate investment company, and with executives of Diar, a part of the Qatar Investment Authority, to pitch investment opportunities.
The Maryland delegation now heads to Hyderabad, India, arriving early Monday morning. The group is tweeting at #MDIndia.