Trip Start Jan 03, 1976
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Qatar  , Ad Dawhah,
Friday, April 19, 2013

Doha is a lot quieter than Dubai, with a lot less colour around. Everything was sand coloured, we wondered how people found their houses "it's the sand coloured one" just wouldn't work!

Everyone in Doha seems to own a 4WD (which also means you can’t say "it’s the sand coloured one with the 4WD" either), and to my delight they actually use them! We went on a 4WD adventure across the desert, and drove across the sand until we reached the inland sea. After all that sand the water was an extra delight. It took some walking through the shallows to reach the deeper water, but it was lovely, warm and clear blue. When looking at a stretch of sand on the other side of the water I was delighted to learn I was looking at Saudi Arabia! A watchtower on the sand was an indication that an attempted swim across the water wasn't the best idea however, so I had to content myself with looking over the sea.

On the drive back we were pulled over by some people who had experienced the dreaded stuck in the sand bogging. We had two cars with us, just in case, but luckily for us we didn’t have to worry and drove through with no troubles. For the other poor group we went on a long drive into the middle of the desert to find the bogged car. After multiple attempts led to no luck for the poor car we had to send them off into the desert again to find a more experienced driver to get them out.

While in Doha we also went to the Museum of Islamic art, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which meant it was quirky but had a nice Arabic twist to it (or was that just the twisting staircase inside).  The museum is located on the corniche (waterside) with a nice view over the water to downtown and full of interesting artefacts.  It does also have a wide selection of my least favourite type of artefact, pottery, but next to the dazzling jewels, materials and scripts the pottery was easily avoided.

No trip to Doha is complete, so we heard anyway, without a trip to the Pearl.  Really it’s just, yet another, shopping area - this one we couldn’t afford with Armani etc.  We stopped and had lunch, and tried to wander out to the eponymous pearl in its oyster case.  As we wandered across the bridge we heard shouting but kept going, until eventually tracked down to be told we couldn’t walk there.  No idea why not, the bridge didn’t go anywhere and just stopped midway in the water but you can’t argue with rules in Doha.  This is something I learned as soon as I arrived, when they found a bottle of wine in my suitcase (what.. it was duty free!), against the rules.

Whilst quite a few years behind Dubai, it is not for want of trying.  The city is full of construction and you can’t miss the endless building sites.  There are also quite a few 5 star hotels are across the town so we thought we'd live it up a bit and went to the St Regis for an afternoon by the pool and mini beach - ordering pool side service for lunch.  We also checked out the six senses spa and lazed luxury for an afternoon and may have also gone to another hotel for brunch to celebrate Anita’s birthday. Unfortunately at that one I may have over eaten and got a little unwell.. there were so many cakes!

A dinner at the souk showed another side to the city, a pretty environment with a variety of things from spices, to magnets, cushions and camels on sale.  The camel market meant another hello to the camels, so cute and my new favourite animal.  One tried to kiss us and the local boys moved aside so we could pat them (the camels that is, not the boys) and take our photo for us.   We also stopped at the nearby Qatar mosque and were showed through on a tour.  Intriguing on the outside, it wasn’t that interesting inside - we also received an hour and a half lecture from a new and enthusiastic guide, which may have leant somewhat more towards proselytising than the history of Islam we were assuming we would get.
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