Dubai to Doha

Trip Start May 06, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, May 7, 2006

Dubai to Doha

A short flight of 40 minutes - the plane only gets to 22,000 feet before it drops back to the ground. Had to catch a shuttle bus to the plane and walk up the steps - it was hot!
Had a nice aisle seat until a VIP came on board - a rather large American in a wheel chair with a black leather jacket. He had a huge body but only small underdeveloped legs. He had been allocated the middle seat! They were going to pick him up and put him in it. I offered to move - they were all relieved! He was a bit abrasive in manner but had a valid reason.
I sat next to an Arab (not necessarily from Arabia) who had the typical white gown and sandals. I got up and turned off the air blower as I noticed he was shivering - not really dressed for it. He was very thankful. Just before descent he went to the toilets and came back with his headgear on.

Comment: I have been in Doha for 5 days now. The Qatari men are always immaculately dressed in their splendid robes and headdress ( mainly white but sometimes red and white checks). The robes are spotlessly white and superbly ironed. They are forever adjusting there head gear to make it look better. Each has his own style. They remind me of male peacocks pruning themselves and strutting around for women to see and to impress the other males as well. Most of the men are strikingly handsome - tanned blemish free skin with precisely trimmed facial hair - be it a moustache of closely shaven beard - deep dark eyes.
The women are just as beautiful (what you can see) & immaculately groomed. Their deep dark eyes are very beautiful and they highlight them with thick mascara. Do not worry - I do not dwell on any woman in an Arab robe.

Doha Airport (We made the Front Page of the Gulf Times on 8 May)

Guess what - they are building a new airport. Doha is hosting the \Asian games in December 2006 and they are madly getting ready for it. Bigger than the Commonwealth Games.
Arrival in Doha was interesting. I was one of the first off the plane and into the bus. Got to the immigration line and there was only 10 people in front of me. I thought I was in a queue - wrong. I think the definition of a queue is something like a line of people moving steadily through a single entry. We were not moving. The supervisor was slowly moving from desk to desk checking on the screens. The immigration officers were standing up, telling jokes and constantly rearranging their head gear.

After observing their behaviour for 15 minutes , I worked out that the computer system had crashed. No one said anything to us - they just tried to ignore that we existed. I stood there for 2 and a half hours waiting for something to happen. I spoke briefly to the American behind me and said I was here to install another IT system that would break down just like this one. I was amazed that there was no contingency plan or at least none that was invoked. We could have been there for days. At least we were inside the airport - two other planes landed after us and many of those people would have been on the tarmac in 40 degree heat.
I even broke the rule about "bags without people" - I went to the toilet and left my bags with the American. Do not worry about duty free in Doha airport - shop in Dubai.

I was wondering whether the driver from the hotel would still be there waiting for me. What was the name of the hotel again "Grand Regency?". Previous correspondence from Doha just referred to it as GR. Yep - he was. He was looking for a Mr Payneee.

As we drove to the hotel, I got my first taste of the city I would be spending 9-12 months in. Dry, dusty, white or off-white buildings and a number of parking lots that these people call roundabouts. Three lanes entering and leaving the roundabouts from four different directions but no lane markings on the roundabout itself. Dad would just stop and look. Incessant tooting of horns of drivers who are 10-12 cars from the roundabout itself. I do not know what they expect this will achieve. It must relieve the tension or be some way of saying to those in authority - why have you imposed this mayhem on us. More on driving in Doha later.

The system failure was reported thus in the Gulf Times :
"No outbound passenger was affected." the spokesman said. "The airline system was intact. Only some inbound passengers faced difficulties for a while," he added. Oh the public service - we can make even the worst catastrophe sound like we had it all under control - go away reporter - we know what we are doing - it is no big deal
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