So I heard the name “Qatar” pronounced several different ways by Arabic speakers while there for work, and I think the last was the most common. I had some very nice food, met some nice people, and generally had a nice time.
I know, not the insightful dialog and rapier wit you expect from me, but really, I was only there for four days on the ground, three of which I spent working fairly intensely (when I wasn’t falling asleep in my hotel room trying to work on something) and one of which I spent partially jetlagged and suffering from what I’m guessing was just travel stress and possibly an insufficiently washed apple.
I know, TMI, but hey, it happens, alright?
I will instead present a couple of pictures (for example:
…and some random observations.
- I think it’s a cleanliness directive from Islam, but every place I went had a minimum of one open box of facial tissues, usually more.
- Islam also has a prohibition against keeping dogs as pets unless they’re used for guard duty or some other use–and even then, they must stay outside. I hate to tell you guys, but chlorinated water, thorough cooking, and washing your hands before and after eating will go much further in stopping disease than denying your kids a chance to play with puppies.
- At least in Qatar, it’s a seriously caffeinated culture. At every meeting we were offered coffee. In the absense of alcohol, this may explain much extremism in that part of the world. Decaf, guys.
- A pleasant discovery was Arabic coffee, which has lots of cardamom and relatively little coffee–and what there is is very lightly roasted. More of this and less cappuccino would also behoove the locals.
- Sandstorms don’t all look like they did in the pictures of the Iraq war (er, the latter one). Still, it was impressive at times. It did keep things cool, so I had the irony of coming back to a warmer place than the freaking desert.
- Dune driving is fun. It’s a bit like a roller coaster ride, except it’s done with 4x4s with partially-deflated tires. However, if you easily get carsick or seasick, well, just don’t, OK?
- It’s fun for governments with tons of oil money just sloshing around to put you up. Sadly, places like USAID also put you up at ritzy hotels and give you drivers, but it’s nice to be flown business with an upgrade to first class when going overseas.