Not kidding, people!
We never expected to be spending any time in the city of Doha, but yesterday we found ourselves there for a day. We arrived in at 6am with a connecting flight leaving 2 hours later. However, we were told that the flight had been canceled. So we had to stay in Qatar for 26 hours until the next flight out.
Just desert outside the bus windows between the airport and the hotel.
Lots of mosques and minarets every direction you look.
Since only 2 of the kids (and none of the parents) had slept on the overnight flight from South Africa to Qatar we were exhausted and decided to not try and get all over the city (like we did in Singapore) but to rest and take it easy. The big kids and I slept for an hour while Daddy took the littles (who slept on the plane) down to the pool for a swim. After our morning nap we joined Paul and the littles at the pool.
There are cranes GALORE and construction going on all over the city! This was just what was across the street from our hotel room. You may not be able to see all of them but there are 18 cranes all at work in this picture! And they were working 24 hours a day! Notice the tall buildings in the distance (top, right). That is the 'downtown' area or city center of Doha shown larger in the next picture.
The pool was really great to have available to take a dip. However, it was a dry heat in Qatar and not nearly as oppressive as the heat in SE Asia. The wind here was so much stronger that you felt as though you were constantly standing next to a giant fan blowing the hot air directly out of a furnace. Not so much fun! It was okay if you stayed in the shade but the sun was so strong! Walking on the tiles by the pool would nearly burn the soles off your bare feet! But, you can order your lunch poolside and not have to leave your lounge chair so it was a trade off, really!
Sometimes, you just can't stay awake...especially when you put travel and swimming back to back!! Not even the construction noise across the street could keep this boy awake.
Late in the afternoon, after another set of naps for everyone, we got a taxi to drive us around a bit to see more of the city. This is another view of the downtown area. The beautiful architecture in Doha was the one of the first things I noticed and remained my favorite part of the city even upon leaving. I already knew that I loved Arabic/Moroccan style and decor and we saw that everywhere , but the downtown buildings in Doha are absolutely stunning! I have never seen anything like it! Some cities of the world boast 1 or 2 or maybe up to 5 really cool buildings but the entire city center of Doha was gorgeous! The next few pics are just some of the cool and unusual architecture in Doha, Qatar as seen from within our taxi tour of the city.
In every country we travel, our kids look for Stick Man signs. In the United States, they would search for Stick Man crossing a street, Stick Man hiking or stick man on a snowmobile (snowmobile crossing). In every country Stick Man is present but he always looks a bit different. Qatar is the first country we have been to where Stick Man wasn't wearing pants! In Qatar, Stick Man sports a thawb!
We also drove around 'The Pearl' which is Doha's man-made island. A massive luxury community resides there. High-end malls, luxury apartments, palatial private homes, 5 star restaurants, etc. It was very impressive and also sad to see how stuff, status, and money, are so important to some people. We purposely are living a life of radically less -- everything we need fits in two duffels and 5 backpacks! To see this stark contrast right in our face was a bit overwhelming.
We also read about the human rights issues in Doha. It's not hard to see and experience the class system in Qatar. There are 8 million Qatari and 12 million expats. Those expats mostly come from India and SE Asia (The Philippines being the second most common behind India). Becoming a Qatar citizen is nearly impossible except for those born into it, and no Qatari is working "lower" jobs. In fact even the airports and the airline were mostly staffed with "other nationalities." Only Border/Passport Control was staffed with Qatari.
Cause those "other nationalities" could not be trusted in border control I guess.
While there for only 26 hours we spoke with and interacted with more Indians than we did with Qatari.
But the human rights issues revolve around those workers not being paid, their travel documents seized and essentially forced to work for nothing. Prostitution and Human Trafficking is a frequent occurrence in Doha.
Doha is host of the World Cup in 8 years (2022) and they are feverishly preparing for that event but at the risk of ignoring basic human rights for it's imported labor force.
So it's a strange place for us, we see and admire the beauty, the engineering, the making of a city in the desert in the last ten years, and the capitalism in effect. However we also see the greed, vanity, and immorality that comes from the love of money.
We were just passing through, not meaning to place judgement on anyone or any city, but wow what a place, Doha!
Travel Update: We're settled in Sofia Bulgaria for a short week, then on to Lisbon Portugal perhaps until returning to Michigan for Christmas.
What about you?
Have You been to Qatar? Do you want to go?
What was your favorite thing about it?
If you have not traveled there, was there something that I mentioned or showed that was different than you had imagined it to be?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.