Doha is the type of place where if you revisit it in 10 years you wouldn’t even recognize it. They are building so much here it’s ridiculous. They are even bidding on the 2016 Olympics and have signs all over Doha for it. Today is Friday but in Qatar it’s like a Sunday so nothing is going on and nothing is open. The idea of the weekend being Thursday and Friday is tough to come to grips with but regardless, downtown Doha is like a ghost town. Aside from walking along the beautiful Corniche with panoramic views of the new skyscrapers, the only thing to do here is go to the mall because that’s what all the people here do. I really hate malls.
Qatar and Doha in particular isn’t the most exciting place in the world and I am glad that I am only here for one day or I might jump in the Gulf. The prices for accomodation here are astronomical, even the most budget of budget places are at least $150. Plus, if you don’t stay in a nice hotel there is nothing to do. The hotels are the only places with anything open late and certainly the only bars and restaurants. I will figure that all out later but back to my mall experience.
The city center mall here is huge and is awash with traditionally dressed Arab men walking around in groups together. Maybe it’s because I am not used to it but it is really funny seeing a group of 8 or 10 of them sitting in one of the four Starbucks in this mall sipping on lattes-it just cracks me up.
Additionally, there are very few Arab women out at all and when they are they are generally dressed in the full black garb where you can only see their eyes. What’s funny is that here, I saw some wearing designer Prada or whatever sunglasses covering their eye slits. Again, just really funny to me to see the differences in cultures and the type of money that flies around out here.
Furthermore, there are a ton of Filipino people here in Qatar, living and working. I mean there are a ton of them-the whole mall if they aren’t Arab they are from the Philippines. I asked my Filipino waitress for lunch why there were so many and she said that they are all coming over here in droves to work because of the wages being so much higher. I understand that concept but again, that’s really random that hordes of Filipinos go to Qatar to live and work. Maybe it’s not that random and there’s some type of connection that I am not aware of but it just seems that way to me.
I am sitting here in the Internet Cafe in the mall because my blackberry doesn’t get service in Qatar so I can’t email or use the Internet. All the Filipino kids are here playing those crazy computer games that are so popular in Asia. I can’t remember the names but they are extremely violent, graphic and loud and if you’ve ever been to an internet cafe in Asia you know what I mean because everyone is obsessed with them.
Also as I was walking here from the hotel, I realized there was a professional cycling event here in Qatar, like the Tour de France but not…so I was lucky enough to see them all passing on the main drag in front of the hotel which closed down the street for a bit, but it was pretty cool. The only thing I really learned about cycling from that experience is: Why would anyone ever attend a cycling race to watch. The cyclists all travel in a tight pack and they pass your standing area in about 10 seconds altogether if even that. Everyone claps and it’s over. I’m looking at people going nuts for these guys and they are going so fast you can’t possibly tell them apart. I don’t know, aside from being the worlds dirtiest sport, it is also the worlds most boring to watch.
By the way, Qatar if it was eligible would be a great scrabble word because there are so few Q words that don’t require a U. Qat is a great and virtually unknown scrabble word but unfortunately Qatar would be a proper noun and wouldn’t be usable. I’m sure you all care about good scrabble words, haha.
I know I am rambling but I am afraid to give up my seat here because the kids will attack to get my seat to play those games and that also means I have to go back into the mall. Haha, anyway I’m off to Abu Dhabi, UAE early tomorrow morning. I am really looking forward to that and then up to Dubai, Oman and the other Emirates from there.