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Roll the Dice, Buy a Piece of Qatar's Glittering New Skyline

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The tiny Arab state of Qatar, as recently as 80 years ago almost totally reliant on a fledgling pearl diving industry, has made a name for itself in the realm of spending cash, thanks to the discovery and exploitation of oil fields. Of course, as with many of its neighbors, the oil-driven Qatari economy has directed its benefits to a select super-rich, who use their economic and political power to suppress social discontent and, increasingly, to erect massive new public works projects. In the capital, Doha, $33B was spent, in total, on the new Education City, where American universities like Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, and Northwestern will all have satellite campuses. Elsewhere in the city, a sprawling, multi-billion dollar museum complex will house some of the world's most treasured works of art, including a version of Cezanne's "Card Players," purchased for $250M. Luxury residential development has accompanied the building of these cultural attractions. This four-bedroom villa, under construction in the exclusive Pearl development, is listed for $8.24M.

? Elsewhere on the huge Pearl property, this penthouse apartment sits above a circular marina. Listed for $3.295M, the duplex sprawls over nearly 9,200 square feet, with five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, two staff rooms, a private infinity pool, parking for three cars in the building's gararge, and a beige-on-beige interior just begging to be upgraded.

? This villa in an older, established Doha neighborhood costs a bit more, even if it does resemble a fortress. Listed for $4.94M, the house is located far from the sea, but competes on size, with interiors that measure 16,400 square feet, including 12 total bedrooms. The huge mansion comes fully furnished, though most buyers will probably want to axe the white-box-meets-royal-finery look.

? If you've ever wanted to live in Venice, Doha will leave you wanting, but dreams of living at Las Vegas' Venetian casino can be easily be attained here. For $2.08M, buyers of this colorful townhouse on a canal in the Pearl development get three bedrooms, five bathrooms, a pair of balconies, and access to nearby restaurants and a "sailing club."

? Those unwilling to brave Qatar's potentially shaky political future with a purchase could always lease one of the country's many luxury rental properties. This high-floor two-bedroom flat at the Pearl comes with a balcony and sea views and is listed for $4,500 per month. That price includes the furnishings, which look gently used, at most.

· Qatar's culture queen [The Economist]
· 4BR beach villa [Mubawab Doha]
· Sabban Tower 6a [Mirage Property]
· Villa Al Hilal [Qatar Property Planet]
· 3-bedroom townhouse [Century 21 Qatar]
· Modern furnished two bedroom [COREO]