The Four Seasons hotel right on the waterfront of the city's corniche has a watering hole where the rich and famous come to be seen and to enjoy the pleasures of life. Last night, I bumped into former Dutch international defender Frank de Boer. 'Are you a famous footballer,' I asked, trying to break the ice. 'I'm still trying to be one,' smiled De Boer as he pulled out his gold credit card to pay a bill which must have included soft drinks for his two young daughters, fast asleep on one of the comfortable couches that dotted the bar. It was late and he was leaving. A defender who played for Holland 112 times - the most capped player for his country at the time - De Boer is now bringing the curtain down on an illustrious career by turning out for top Qatari club al-Rayyan. He is following in the footsteps of many other big names, all attracted by the petro-dollars the sheikhs hand out to ageing stars in an attempt to transform the local Qatari Football League into a vibrant tournament. Gabriel Batistuta, Romario, Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf among others have been here. 'I love it here,' says De Boer. 'This is one of the safest cities in the world. I don't lock the doors to my apartment when I go out and it is a great environment for my children. The weather here is great, better than back home for sure.' De Boer, 36, played for the Netherlands at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups. He also played in four European Cups, between 1992 and 2004. A winner of the European Cup and the Uefa Cup with Ajax, De Boer also played for Barcelona, Galatasaray and Rangers. Both he and twin brother Ronald left the Scottish club at the same time and joined al-Rayyan at the end of 2004. His sibling has gone, but he stays on. De Boer shrugs when I ask him how it feels to be playing in Qatar. 'Sometimes the football is very good, but sometimes it is so-so,' he smiles. He is not complaining. On a multimillion-dollar contract, he is more than happy to turn up and play his role as a star for al-Rayyan. When Argentine superstar Batistuta played here some years ago, he was given US$8 million for a two-year contract. In its bid to turn Qatar into the sporting hub of the world, the Qatari Olympic Committee - which in effect is the government - initially handed clubs US$10 million a year to go out and buy a maximum of four foreign professionals. Football is a passion for the locals and players like De Boer and company have spiced things up. Emir Khalifa Bin Hamad al-Thani's sons - he has nine and six daughters from three wives - are actively involved in sports. One of them, Prince Tamim, who has graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, is a huge football fan. It has been his initiative to provide the funds which have lured the world's soccer stars to Doha. French star Leboeuf, who played in the World Cup-winning team in 1998, once famously said 'there are more stars in Qatar than in France'. He was ridiculed in the French media for saying that. But most certainly, the stars that shine in Qatar, do shine brighter. And it has nothing to do with the clear desert air. Number of the Day: 10 The fortunate few first division clubs in the Qatar Football League.