Title image: Doha, Qatar skyline seen from the balcony of my hotel room across the bay.
From Myanmar I aimed for Romania for the rest of the summer. I figured I could fit in one more stop on my around-the-world ticket. Qatar Airways offered an easy flight from Yangon to Doha, so I took it. Also, Qatar is the richest country in the world measured by GDP per capita (population: 2.7 million). Is that enough reason to go? It was for me.
On a Middle Eastern carrier, the flight information includes on a regular basis the direction of Mecca:
It’s a practical matter. When the time comes to pray, you need to know the direction to face. In Islamic countries, hotel rooms always have a green arrow somewhere in the room, pointing to Mecca. It may be on the ceiling or even in a drawer.
Here’s my first glimpse of the Arabian peninsula:
I arrived at Hamad International Airport mid-day during Ramadan (May 5 – June 3), a month where everyone lies low during the day. It was remarkable to walk through an empty airport at what is normally a very busy time:
My first view of Doha, as seen from my hotel room balcony:
I’m not going to lie. I had an urgent need to get my hair done. So, first things fist, I made an appointment in the salon at the hotel. Here’s me with my cute stylist.
And because it was Ramadan, all public spaces, like museums, were closed until 8 o’clock in the evening.
Doha, Qatar: Center City
What to do in a day? I hired a driver, and he showed me around.
The National Museum of Qatar (closed during the day):
Built in the shape of a desert rose, it flowered in the imagination of architect Jean Nouvel.
The Museum of Islamic Art (closed during the day):
The Katara Cultural Complex, virtually empty (you get the idea). The entrance to the amphitheater:
I chose this picture because on the building in the background you can see the stylized image of the current Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. His image is on buildings all over town.
Here’s a close-up on a different building.
At the cultural center there are these things:
The best I can say about them is that they are an example of traditional architecture.
The cultural center has an adjoining shopping center:
Doha, Qatar: Miami Beach
Oh, sorry, I mean The Pearl. Here’s where the rich people live. But isn’t everyone rich?
No, The Pearl is for the really rich. Two images sum it up. One from a boutique enclave:
The other from the small bay right behind it:
I mean, seriously, this isn’t Miami Beach?
Doha, Qatar: The Architecture
Doha is known for its modern architecture. Here’s a trio of buildings:
The pair known as the Zig Zag buildings:
I wonder, given that ‘zig zag’ is already taken, what these buildings are called:
This group is striking:
Not all the distinctive architecture is new. This mosque has its own singular flair:
The mosque presides over the souq ‘traditional marketplace’ is the middle ground – not sure what purpose the barricades serve in the foreground:
Maybe crowds come at night. I did glimpse a bit of activity in the form of an actual person doing something during the day.
Since I don’t think it’s right to take someone’s picture unawares and then use the image, this picture works out just perfectly. The only thing we see is her hand.
Doha, Qatar: Final Glimpse
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen