Hopping Over To Qatar.

Doha Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 8 › view all entries
The minaret from the Qatar Islamic Cultural Center.

Hello All,

It was a short flight to Doha, but the Qatar Airways crew still managed to serve a sandwich and drink.  After landing there was the typical passport check, and my worries about my stamp from last year's trip to Israel disappeared when they put the Qatar stamp on the same page.  I exchanged all of my remaining Bahraini money, and looked for a ride into town.

The first offer I got was from a limousine company that had either a Jaguar or a Town Car that they rented out by the hour.  The rate was surprisingly reasonable, but as is normal I was in a cheaper mood.  I settled on a mini-van airport taxi, and we headed into town.  The driver was from Japan, and we talked about his working in Doha.

The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha Bay. This is as close as I was allowed to get. :(
 He had been there seven months, and very much enjoyed his job.  The biggest problem he complained to me about was the constant traffic.

We did have some poor traffic on the way into town despite the fact that it was Friday, the start of the weekend.  I had the driver drop me off in the downtown area near an old fort, the shopping souk, and a mall.  I thought that from there I could walk down to the main tourist attraction, Doha's bay-side Corniche.  The Corniche is an 8km walk through a park-like setting along a cresent shaped bay, and is Doha's main tourist attraction.

The streets were filled with thousands of foreign workers on their day off, and most of them appearred to be from Pakistan, Nepal, or India.  Also, I'm guessing because of the Friday weekend, there was nothing open.

The Sheraton Doha anchors the north end of the 8km long Al-Corniche.
 I made my way through the throngs of people congregating around the few open corner shops towards the Corniche.

As I got within a half a block of the park I was told by a police officer that it was 'Family Day' on the Corniche, and that I could not go there.  As I was questioning this, several people passed by going towards the water.  Several were also being turned back.  The common factor needed to get on the Corniche today seemed to be a female.  I walked around the block to a pplace where I could better observe the screening process.

I sat on a short wall and watched as official and un-official looking men turned away single men, and groups of men trying to get to the Corniche.  I watched for about 30 minutes in the shade while half-looking for a taxi, and tried to absorb the concept.

Cool building from the New District of Doha.
 I travelled 8,000 miles and specifically spent extra money to visit Qatar for about seven hours.  And now I would be unable to visit it's crown jewel of attractions.  Struggling for something else to do, I finally was able to find a taxi and had him take me to the Sheraton Hotel which anchors the north end of the bay.

The taxi driver and I talked along the way, and he speculated that the 'Family Day' was a way to discriminate against the, mostly male, foreign work force on their only day off.  After bring dropped off at the Sheraton, I read through the Doha section of my Lonely Planet guide.  I tried to find something else to do which would not only be open, but welcome me as a single male.  I asked the women working at the front desk, and one of them half-suggested that one of them walk down there with me.

They obviously found a theme they liked and stuck with it. More buildings from the New District in Doha.

I decided that I would try my luck again.  I walked with purpose the short distance from the hotel.  I noticed that a police car was setup to the right of the hotel entrance, possibly putting me inside the perimeter.  At the first sign that I wasn't being apparently tracked by the authorities I veered left off of the sidewalk into the crowded parking lot.  That seemed to work.  Now, the goal was to get across the short grassy area to the sea walk itself.  I picked the most crowded area I could find, and succesfully wove my way past picnicking groups to the Corniche walk.  I just succesfully 'snuck' into Qatar's #1 tourist attraction.  WTF?

The majority of the people on the Corniche were local families enjoying the beautiful day.  But there were also many tourists.

A Dhow in Doha Bay.
 Among them were a few single males, or groups of two or three males.  I decided to sit on the sea wall and smoke a Cuban.  It was a perfect sight, and a perfect day.  Thankfully, nobody was looking at me with any suspicion as far as I could tell.  And I started to wonder about the possible racism of the whole law.  I guess I will chalk it up to cultural differences in order to supress the thought, and I proceded to walk south.

The bay was beautiful, and the view of Doha's new business district and it's many construction cranes was impressive as I walked and night started to fall.  The sunset was great and the atmosphere didn't change too much as night fell.  It was still primarily families enjoying a fun time.  My feet were starting to hurt a bit, so I started to arrange an exit strategy.

Another Dhow shot.
 There is nowhere for a taxi to stop along most of Doha's busy streets, and there are seemingly not enough taxis for the demand as well.

I ended up crossing the busy street and walking for over an hour before I was able to wave down a taxi.  It was an unmarked, private taxi, and I waved it down at the same time as a local.  He offered to share, and we were going in the same general direction.  Turns out that he was a locksmith heading to a job, and we had a nice conversation along the way.  After dropping the other passenger off, we made it to the airport.  I asked the driver how much the ride was, as I had broken the cardinal rule of taxis by not setting a price ahead of time.  He told me it was whatever I wanted to pay.  I was happy, as gave him a bit more then the ride into town had cost.

The olympics? Maybe the Asian Games.
 He was very happy.

I was a bit early for my flight, and checked in and searched for a comfy place to plop myself down.  The wait was soooo long, but I was able to doze off a few times.  Another short flight, and another sandwich along the way.  My efforts to try more local food continue to be thwarted by the ease of obtaining fast food, complimentary breakfasts, and airline chow.  I promise myself to try harder.  The two hour drive from Abu Dhabi back to the hotel in Dubai capped off my night.  And I thankfully managed to get enough nap time that I was wide awake.  I get there at about 3am and flip on the 'Do Not Disturb' light as I crash out.  Tomorrow I check out of the Crowne Plaza and head to Oman. 

Later, Phil

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The minaret from the Qatar Islamic…
The minaret from the Qatar Islami…
The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha …
The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha…
The Sheraton Doha anchors the nort…
The Sheraton Doha anchors the nor…
Cool building from the New Distric…
Cool building from the New Distri…
They obviously found a theme they …
They obviously found a theme they…
A Dhow in Doha Bay.
A Dhow in Doha Bay.
Another Dhow shot.
Another Dhow shot.
The olympics?  Maybe the Asian Gam…
The olympics? Maybe the Asian Ga…
How many more cranes could they fi…
How many more cranes could they f…
This is Orry, a Qatari Oryx and th…
This is Orry, a Qatari Oryx and t…
Another sunset shot.  I fall back …
Another sunset shot. I fall back…
The sun sets over Doha Bay.
The sun sets over Doha Bay.
The new district at night.
The new district at night.
Anther shot of the New District.  …
Anther shot of the New District. …
Doha
photo by: Stevie_Wes