Qatar: A tiny country asserts powerful influence

The Arab Spring is spreading, but not to Qatar, a tiny, oil-rich country wedged between Saudi Arabia and Iran. What keeps the peace in Qatar?

CBS All Access
This video is available on CBS All Access

Simon: How far back do you have to go? Your grandfather or your great grandfather lived in tents?

Al Attiyah: My father.

Simon: Your father lived in a tent?

Al Attiyah: Yes. The amazing thing: It is my father's generation that transitioned from living in a tent to living in an urban environment, from commuting on a camel to commuting in a 747. And that transition, within such a short period of time, is astonishing.

The work is being done by a million man army of immigrants: 94 percent of Qatar's labor force is foreign; Filipinos, Indians, Nepalese mainly - creating a home for a mere 250,000 Qataris. Paying for it? No problem. Qatar sits on top of the third largest natural gas reserves on the planet.

A new plant called "The Pearl" turns those reserves into liquid fuels. It cost $18 billion and took five years to build. It is the largest, most sophisticated plant of its kind and the centerpiece of the emir's strategy to keep Qatar rich. When we ran into him at its inauguration, he seemed genuinely proud.

Simon: Well, congratulations. Now you've got the biggest plant in the world.

Bin Khalifa: Oh, that's great, and I'm happy that they finish it.

Simon: Indeed. On time too.

Time is a precious commodity here; everything's happening at once. They're finishing a new hospital - the Qataris say will be one of the most advanced in the world. There's a new concert hall, with a new symphony orchestra. The emir imported the musicians. Six American universities have built campuses here, offering American degrees in the heart of the Middle East. The Museum of Islamic Art, with a billion dollar collection, opened recently. Admission, of course, is free.

Sheik Hamid bin Jasim: Everything is free. That become, like, a part of our culture.

Sheik Hamid bin Jasim is Qatar's prime minister.

Bin Jasim: Even when the-- people died, they were-- we take care of them.

Simon: Free funerals.

Bin Jasim: Yes.

Simon: From cradle to grave--

Bin Jasim: Yes, yes.

Simon:--everything's taken care of.

Bin Jasim: That's-- we can make a logo.

Simon: This is a pretty good place to live.

Bin Jasim: Yes. We are living in good environments. Let us pray that problems around us cool down.

Those "problems" - the chaos, violence and killings throughout the Middle East are not cooling down at all - and many Arab leaders say, to a large extent, it is the emir's fault.

That's because of the television network he created 15 years ago. It's called Al Jazeera and it does something unprecedented in the Arab world. It covers the news. It's on the air 24 hours a day, broadcasts in Arabic and English and is widely considered to be the engine of the Arab Spring.