Is there any country that used to be rich and developed and turned into a third world country in the last 100 years?

100 years is a very long time. I present you a country that took just two years to become a third world country from a rich and developed country. It still is a third world country. Loudly and proudly.

Liran Sahar meet Qatar the third world country. Qatar meet Mr. Sahar the OP.

This was Qatar in 1971, when it gained independence from UK, its colonial overlord. Peacefully. Ever since the Ottoman Empire packed its bag in 1916, the British Empire took over the country. During the British rule it had something wonderful happen to it.

The British founded the Qatar Petroleum Co. (QPC) in 1938. Delayed by WWII, QPC exported its first barrel of oil in 1949. Nothing was the same again. Fuelled by QPC, Qatar kept getting richer and richer, to the level where it could just go ahead and tell the UK to pack up.

By the time the Brits left, Qatar was one of the richest countries in the world, with the highest quality of life in Middle East and North Africa (MENA), from Iran to Morocco and from Turkey to Yemen. Per capita GDP of Qatar in 1971 was higher than France, Belgium, New Zealand, or UK. Person for person, Qataris were twice as rich as the Saudis.

Post Independence, Qatar had three choices to make — (a) become a first world country, like Saudi Arabia, Turkey or Haiti, which meant that it could join the American Bloc; (b) become a second world country, like Syria, Iraq or Cuba, which meant it could join the Soviet Bloc; and (c) become a third world country, like Egypt, Iran or Switzerland, and remain non-aligned. The whole three-world system was a crazy concept spawned by the Cold War era propagandists. But, it made sense at the time.

Qatar was a seriously capitalist country that had no intention to have the KGB running the country. It just earned independence from a first world country and it would have been silly to return to the fold so quickly. So, Qatar made the only feasible decision. It became a third world country.

In 1973, Qatar joined the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), joining the ranks of other third world countries quite demonstrably. Oh joy!

This was Qatar when the Soviet Union fell and the second world came unglued during the Christmas holidays of 1991. By that time it had become one of the richest countries in the world, where income tax did not exist, fuel was free, and water was imported. It also had the highest freedom of speech and lowest violence in the Arab world.

With the demise of the Cold War, the three-world system became obsolete, with only the worst victims of Cold War propaganda still propagating the concept. Some used the terms first world and third world to mean rich country and poor country without any clue of what the second world was. But, ignorance is bliss, and most of them didn’t bother about the a third world existing without a second one. Funny, aye?

Qatar didn’t mind. It kept getting richer and more developed. By 2014, it was much richer than the US, and way more rich than Russia. Qatar became the richest country in the world, and the most developed country in MENA. It really paid off to remain a third world country.

Qatar in 1977 and in 2017.

By the way, Qatar may still be counted as a third world country, as it still is active in the NAM. It also doesn’t play the lines of the US or Russia oh so busy playing out a new Cold War in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

Countries allied with the US, the US Bloc in the Arab world, hates Qatar, especially Saudi Arabia, the most Islamist of country in the world, the source of Salafi/Wahhabi intolerance. Their hate have resulted in many pressures and attacks on Qatar. It isn’t easy for them to remain a third world country, even when the concept is dead.

Qatar the forever third world country, the hyper-developed super-rich country, is a direct threat to the US and it’s closest friend in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia. Because it doesn’t believe in becoming their mandatory friend, and it feels free to make friends with countries the US and Saudi Arabia doesn’t like too much.

In short, it is not dancing with them.

Third world. Loudly and proudly.

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