It was on a trip to Dubai where I was planning a trip to Tehran, and I found an 8 hour layover in Qatar. I had heard very little of this little Pearl in the Persian Gulf. Qatar Airways had all sorts of cool destinations and for a decent price I was able to fly spend a decent amount of time enough to get out and see the city. It was with a Jordanian Facebook friend’s, friend I met Mohammed Afana. I learned a few years ago to embrace the friends of friends and unless there are signs otherwise to connect with people in ways that otherwise would not be possible in such a short period of time. I had 8 hours or less with Mohammed, and we really became close. I have had a hard time expressing the connections I’ve made with the Palestinian people. On my technical blog I’ve shared a little, and it appears it’s been misunderstood. Below Muslim Education Center fashioned after a thousand year old Mosque in Iraq.
I do feel for the Palestinian people, and my experiences with Mohammed Afana are no different than others I have met. He was extremely kind, open, caring, and was a brother to me while I was with him. His parents are refugees from Palestinian Territories, and he was born in Qatar. We learn from people and walking in someone else’s shoes.
Mhmd’s a Judo expert. He’s very skilled. He actually competed at the world class level on the national team for years. He picked me up at the airport, ready to show me a night on the town. It was awesome.
We started out by going to Souk Waqif a traditional bizarre and market. This isn’t the high end shopping, but has awesome shops that will much better help you connect with the locals. I ran into this sheik boy with his pet falcon!
By the way, this Souk is only 10-15 minutes from the airport and truly is an old market that was built originally by Beduins from the desert to sell their wells. There are some great prices, and cool stuff you’ve never seen before.
This cool sundial? reminds me of the Dark Chrystal.
The white clothes he’s wearing are actually very comfortable. I had the chance to wear one while in UAE. They are very light and cool. It’s very understandable how modest, clean, and all together cool in how they keep the sun off your skin, as well as provide a covering. A friend of mine in Bahrain who wears both jeans and the white robe, prefers the traditional garb because it’s much cooler. As well the hatta or hat scarf on the head is great for keeping the sun off your head and neck. When I’m in the middle east I often prefer that as well as it is great for doing just that. It’s much cooler and keeps me from getting burned. While at the market I came across these cool traditional knives.
I was considering getting one of them based on the reasonable prices, until I remembered I didn’t want to check anything at the airport… especially some kind of weapon on my flight to Iran. I loved that shop. They had such cool travel items.
This traditional Muslim headdress and mask totally reminded me of my recent trip to Oman. The face guard almost looks metallic. When I first saw one on a lady I had to do a doubletake and had to slow down to take a picture… likely the opposite reaction that the lady was looking for. I would say in my time in the middle east I did gain a great respect for the women’s clothing. The flowing robes became very attractive and the mysterious eyes. Some of those eyes were just so incredible! Again, I know it’s the opposite of what they are going after… I guess.
I ended up bringing back some traditional Muslim robes for my wife. Which I’m sure she appreciated. I also brought back what I call the Emirate robes. We make quite the couple. We look just like the couple above. Some days in the summer I will put on my robes for around the house. I’ve got a much thinker one I got in Morocco that I wear in the winter. Sometimes I feel like I look like a monk in my big thick brown robes, another ironic moment.
Doha is from the future. You’ve heard about how these amazing tall buildings and structures have gone up in Dubai, UAE. What you may have missed is that Doha is really where it’s at. Doha got it’s wind right after Dubai and has had some fantastic architecture put up. The night sky is filled with crazy lights on fascinating shaped buildings. It reminds me of a lazer light show on the buildings. It’s far from boxy. You get pin cushion looking buildings, and buildings that look more like puzzles, and cones, and twisty looking towers. Awesome.
You also may have heard about the Palms in Dubai. This place where reclaimed land from the sea was pushed into the shape of Palm leaves? Well in Doha Qatar it’s the Pearl. You get this amazing island in the shape of a clam with a pearl in the center. The shopping rivals any 5th avenue, or High Streets of Europe. Looking around the photo, you can see the humus and oil as well as lamb shanks.
For lunch we stopped at an Iraqi resteraunt. I hadn’t had Iraqi food before and it sounded fascinating. The food was great. I had mixed grills, lamb, beef, chicken, tomato, onion… looks great doesn’t it! Awesome fresh grilled fresh food!
After dinner we got out on the water in some traditional Persian boats that almost looked Chinese. The Corniche is a great relaxing place to walk. Lots of locals walking along the shore. As well, we saw some high end shops… and ultimately ended the late night with some Turkish Schwarma, the place was packed! Yum… some of the best schwarma I’ve ever had.
Qatar did not dissapoint. It was a great stopover. I would go back in a heart beat. Great people, amazing experiences, great food, beautiful water experiences. It’s amazing how they’ve made this desert Oasis bloom.
Leaving a friend behind who I had just met was with mixed emotion. I wanted to stay, but was looking forward to my trip ahead… Iran.