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Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha to Open in Qatar

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The tiny Gulf country of Qatar is home to a film festival, a philharmonic orchestra, a modern art museum — and soon, a New York-style jazz club.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha, which is scheduled to open in the country's capital in April, is the first of five clubs that Jazz at Lincoln Center (J.A.L.C.) and St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, a brand owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., plan to open abroad in the next five years.

The Doha club as planned will be a 120-seat venue similar in character to Lincoln Center's Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, according to a statement the companies released Wednesday on the global partnership. It will be located in the St. Regis Doha, a 336-room hotel and spa scheduled to open in Doha West Bay in February.

“We’re thrilled that the hotel owner, Mr. Omar Alfardan, is a jazz enthusiast," said Adrian Ellis, Executive Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center. "We are opening the club in St. Regis Doha because it was the first appropriate St. Regis opening since the relationship between J.A.L.C. and St. Regis started.”

Musician Wynton Marsalis, who is Artistic Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center, will program the club's events.

“Throughout the history of jazz, musicians from Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck have brought people from all cultures together through this music," Marsalis said in the statement.

Lawrence Pintak, the author of "The New Arab Journalist" and the founding dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, said the club would probably have no problem filling its seats.

"Qatar has become the conference capital of the Middle East," Pintak said. "There are always hordes of foreigners there for conferences, for sports events and that will be a draw."

Pintak added that Qataris will probably become regulars at the club as well.

"There's an element of seeing and being seen in Doha as in New York," he said. "And so, some Qataris will go just to be seen."

St. Regis is opening eight hotels internationally in the next six months. Three of them are in the Middle East.