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Qatar Oman
   Qatar

September 2008 -- July 2009
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For ten months, we lived in Qatar, in the city of Doha. 

You might be wondering... Qa-what?

Qatar.  Size of Rhode Island.  Has more oil and natural gas reserves than the entire United States.



Qatar wants to modernize its school systems, so they imported scads of education experts, including Sarah.



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    click on images for a bigger view.
  

This is Qatar.

  

This is Qatar.

  







This is Qatar.





Any questions?

  

Okay, so... Qatar has a few other features, but you have already seen 99% of it.

For instantce, Qataris like to stick monstrous huge buildings in their desert.

  

This upside-down tree-roots thing is going to be a porch.

  



The view from our apartment window.



I know, I know.
Too much glam.

  

And here is our apartment.

This rather smallish 2-bedroom place cost $2400 US per month.  Luckily, Sarah's company footed the bill.

  

Qatar basically has no road names or street addresses.  The Qatar Postal Service does not deliver the mail.  If you want to get mail, you have to have a P.O. box.

I guess in recent years they've made an effort to name streets, but nobody knows what the names are.  Instead, people memorize landmarks, and they give names to intersections and roundabouts.

  

They built a whole big city on the edge of the desert here, called Doha.

Doha is the back-woods hick version of Dubai.

  

The city is slowly, painfully transitioning from roundabouts.  I think they started with roundabouts because nobody knew how to drive, and the drivers couldn't be trusted to notice, let alone obey, a traffic light. 

  

Nowadays the government is phasing in traffic lights, cameras, and automated ticketing systems.  Running a red light costs $1400 US.

What is even more galling, they have restricted the bribery system, so sometimes you have to pay your ticket.

  

Dumpster cats.

An intersting feature of Doha is that almost every dumpster houses between one and three cats.

I estimate above 50 feral cats per square mile.

  

No matter how friendly they look at first, you can't pet them.  They're wild.

  

Traditionally, port cities have imported cats to fight rats.  But Doha is in its own league.  Just a metric buttload of cats.

Sooth, there are very few rats around.

  

  

  

Ric's Kountry Kitchen.

This is the only American style greasy spoon in the city.  A little slice of home.

  

Tennis.

Doha hosts two major pro tennis tournaments, one for women, one for men. 

Featured here, Roger the OMG Fff-ing Federer.

  

Cheap seats.

About 8 dollars a ticket, but we are very close to the court.

It's very cold up in the stands.  Matt and Angela are bundled up for the long haul.

  

Roger!

  

Classic Nadal butt-pick.

Qataris in general are desperate for prestige, so they front the cash for these big tournaments, even though nobody in Qatar plays or watches tennis.

  

Gael Monfils.  Matt's favorite player.

  

This is the scoreboard just minutes before Monfils beat Nadal.

w00t!

  

Sarah, and her boy Roger.

  

Souq Waqif.

"Souq" means market.

Once upon a time there was a Souq Waqif that was old and interesting.  They tore it down and put up a Disneyfied version that looks old, and tries to be interesting.

Everything is clean. The souq employs police expressly for the purpose of keeping Philipinos, Indians, Sri Lankans and Nepalese out.  If you are the wrong color, you will be turned away.

But the shops and expensive restaurants are quite nice.

  

Main thoroughfare in Souq Waqif, looking towards the spiral tower of the Islamic Cultural Center.

  

  

  

During Ramadan, the sundown breaking-of-bread meal is called Iftar.  Ramadan is a time of charity, and traditionally Iftar tents are set up to freely distribute food to the poor. 

  

But in the Qatar version of Iftar, the tent is blasted with air conditioning, and it costs $70 US per person to get in.

  

The food is good.

  

This Iftar Tent featured a whirling dervish.

  

After dinner we smoked shisha.

Don't worry, shisha is just tobacco.

  

  

Indians and Sri Lankans regularly play cricket in the most brutal heat and sun.

This is a free park area in Al Khor, north of Doha.

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