The Amazing Race

Trip Start Nov 05, 2010
Trip End Mar 27, 2013

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Where I stayed
Doha International Airport

Flag of Qatar  ,
Monday, March 19, 2012

We decided to have a stopover of 20 hours to take in some of the sights and sounds in Doha, Qatar. Since we enjoyed Oman so much, we were curious to explore another Middle-Eastern country.  We heard that Doha was similar to Dubai in the way they were expanding and building so much.  We did the research this time, Doha granted visas on arrival for $25US each which was up our price alley.  One day was enough to give us an idea if we wanted to come back for a longer stay. With our bags checked in, we were free to let loose and had 5 main attractions to experience.

The list was as follows:

1)      Walk along the Corniche

2)      Shop at the Souq Watif (market)

3)      Visit the Museum of Islamic Arts

4)      Eat lunch at an Arabian restaurant

5)      Visit the Doha city centre shopping mall

Souq Watif
This market was designed to look like how it did 50 years ago.  It was only opened a year ago and did not have the vibrancy associated with Indian or Asian markets. Most stalls were unoccupied and the coffee shops were full of Arabs in traditional clothing who did not smile or speak a word of English. The place appeared to be a tourist draw, without life of its own.

Museum of Islamic Arts
It was one of the most modern and awe-spiring works of art! We've visited many museums on this trip and this one looked like it was going to lift off anytime and rocket into space! The museum was designed by a French architect and surrounded by a lovely waterfront park. The tickets were free which was a plus! The collections included works from all over the Muslim world, including a sword that allegedly belonged to the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, Turkish mosaics, Persian Rugs and old Arabian calligraphy. Only two floors of the museum were full of artifacts with two more floor vacant. With the size of governments bank accounts we suspect the museum will be filled in no time.

Yemeni food
We picked an authentic restaurant to have lunch.  Just by peering in the windows we could see locals all dressed in the Arabic head scarves and turbans.  The restaurant was huge - it had one big dinning hall with 2 smaller rooms attached.  The smaller rooms just had a nice big carpet spread throughout where men ate and sat together.  The tables were reserved for families and foreigners like us.  It took us longer then usual to pick what to eat because mostly all the dishes had some form of mystery "meat."  Sasha ended up eating lots of bread and rice with salad.  While Dasha, ordered some fish and veggies.  For a moment, we looked at each other wondering what it would like to eat in other Middle-Eastern countries we planned to visit.  Oh well, there’s always the fallafel! (We hope).

The Corniche
The waterfront of Doha was similar to the waterfront of Muscat (and Toronto) that it had a highway running through it. Between the road and the waterfront there was a park where foreign worker slept in the afternoon and expatriates jogged in the evening. Unlike Muscat, there were no businesses such as shops and restaurants. Doha was clearly not built for people. It was built for cars passing through waterfront as fast as traffic permits. As we walked we passed by Arab men dressed in traditional white robes surrounded by four veiled women each. We will never find out if those were the wives (the Quran allows four to each believer), daughters or female relatives. The difference between them was only in height. On the other side of the bay we enjoyed the view of the skyline. Every building featured a crane on top. Apparently, the total value of projects under construction is estimated to be about $160B. Sasha understood why they were granted the 2022 World Cup. No other nation could possibly afford it. Only Allah knows what such a small country will do with twelve brand new stadiums after the tournament is over.

City Centre Doha
There were 2 malls that we wanted to visit but ended up at City centre because it was closer to the airport.  Like the malls in Oman, this one was identical in the set-up and had the same Western type stores like Aldo, Starbucks, and Garage etc. By this time we were slightly tired so we decided to catch a flick.  “The Vow” was playing so we watched the movie until it was 11:30pm. It was the perfect time to get back to our comfortable and free hotel, chez la airport.

Unlike Abu Dhabi, there were no comfortable chairs designed for sleeping. The Muslim prayer room looked like a hostel with people lying on a carpet using their bag as a pillow. We thought to taking a snooze in there but didn't want to be separated.  So we choose the hard as rock chairs to sleep in.

Although we were ready to get some shut-eye we couldn’t help but anticipate the next leg of our adventure in Africa.

By tomorrow this time around, we will be in one of the most exotic continents in the world.


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