Friday, June 12, 2009

Chaptette 16: Probability

The probability that you will be born a Qatari is approximately 0.00445 percent, or something like 4 out of 100,000. Pretty slim odds, eh? Not as bad as Powerball, but a whole lot worse than the odds that you'll get, say, an offer for 12 FREE CDs (if you buy 1 now and commit to buying 3 more each year for the next three years, plus shipping and handling).

Don't let my statistical precision fool you. The probability that you will be born a Qatari is exactly "zero", unless you actually are a Qatari, in which case the odds prove to be pretty decisively in your favor. The point is: being born a Qatari is a pretty rare event.

If you did win that particular genetic lottery, material life is going to be pretty good to you. Qatar has either the highest or second highest per capita income, or gross domestic product per person, and all that other stuff, in the world: they all mean that Qatar is in the money. And these figures usually are calculated something like "all the Booty (in the pirate sense) that Qatar has, divided by all the people living in Qatar". That formula is clearly false, however, as the more relevant calculation is "Booty/Qataris" or, as we in the profession call it, the B/Q ratio. THIS ratio is pretty high; there's a lot of money to spread amongst the locals, and the money is spread pretty widely.

The chances that a person will not be born Qatari are overwhelming. Even in Qatar, the odds of being Qatari are pretty low: I think they are about 3-1. (Perversely, the other type of booty/Qatari ratio is also minuscule). The non-Qataris don't get there share of the share the wealth, so they have to work hard to make a living. All the manual labor and service jobs are done by non-Qataris (mainly, I think, Philipinnos, Malaysians, Indians, and so forth.

I don't really know much about what their life is like here. All the workers I have met personally have been unfailingly polite and nice, but then again while I'm here I suppose I'm seen as working for The Man. But I do have eyes and legs and, yes, sometimes I even walk outside my garden compound. Virtually all the homes/apartments are behind security/privacy walls, so it is difficult to see much about what's going on inside. Laborers have less privacy and security.

These pictures are from the lot right across from Samrya Gardens, where I live. If you look closely, you might see some of these details: a makeshift weightlifting (is not enough being lifted at work?), TV antennae and satellite dishes, a basketball backboard, construction rubble -- ok, that's a gimme -- and my apartment in the background, as I walk back home pondering about probabilities under the setting son.

1 comment:

  1. I like your photographs with the writing. The contrast between the photos of your apartment complex which looks something that Disney might have come up with, and the other side of life, is pretty stark,to say the least. Are you okay? The haves and have nots seem to be even more clearly delineated than they are here. There are so few people in your photos, is that because it is so hot and everyone is inside somehwere all the time. I know I could not handle the heat. It was around a 100F here today and I stay inside. Take care of yourself. Lee Ann