Destination Doha, Qatar for 3-day weekend!

Up early on Thursday, 16 January to catch a flight to Doha, Qatar (a difficult name to pronounce). We arrived by about 10:30 and had a car rented and were on the road by 11:30. We drove around and found a little hole in the wall place to eat lunch (Indian) and then headed off for the Islamic Museum of Art.

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waterway at entrance to Museum of Islamic Art

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Museum of Islamic Art

It is a beautiful building with the “largest collection of Islamic art.” The collection is spread over a maze of rooms on 3 floors: incredible tiles, glasswork, coins, and pottery. There were also coins, weavings, weapons, jewelry, and books.

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a few of the daggers

The ones that intrigued me the most were the astrolabes. They had several cases of them in different sizes in a couple rooms. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of those. The building sat right on the water’s edge and there was a beautiful fountain and grounds outside of it.

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dhows and skyline on water surrounding Museum of Islamic Art

 

After about an hour and a half there, we decided to head next door to a special exhibit of Damien Hirst’s stuff. I hesitate to call it art, and I am once again reminded of my general lack of enthusiasm for “modern art.” One of his signature things is paintings of dots (see photo of building covered by dots).

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Building with Damien Hirst signature dots

Each dot is a different color and on different canvases they are different sizes, but there is a space equal to the size of the dots between each dot. Meticulous? The rest of it was quite gruesome. He bisected animals and suspends them in formaldehyde, or sets up scenes with actual animals (many sharks) also suspended in formaldehyde. Row upon row of pills evenly spaced along tiny shelves filled one room, in another a giant ashtray the bottom of which was covered in cigarette butts (ew, bad smell. Well, okay, the formaldehyde didn’t smell so good either, but it was encased), or row upon row of cigarette butts evenly spaced where they had been stubbed out on tiny shelves. A room full of larger cabinets filled with pharmaceuticals or surgery equipment, and finally a baby’s skull totally encrusted with rose-colored diamonds and an adult skull totally encrusted with white diamonds. Bizarre. It did inspire some discussion afterwards though. The labels on the walls seemed to indicate his fascination with death and how that impacts our lives. I dunno.

From there we headed to a Sheraton Hotel that Gabe remembered in Doha from 10 years ago when he was stationed there. We enjoyed dinner at an Irish Pub inside the hotel.

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Doha, Qatar Sheraton Hotel

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lobby of the Sheraton in Doha

Our hotel was not great. The beds were hard and water never reached more than lukewarm. However, it provided breakfast. The next day found us headed for the desert (yes, off-roading…in a car!) in search of the “Singing Sand Dunes” and a cave.

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Singing Sand Dunes out in the middle of the desert

We found the dunes and climbed them, but apparently the humidity, temperature, and winds have to be just right for them to sing. It wasn’t just right, but it was beautifully warm and we could see some distance. We were unable to find the cave right away, but in the process came across a decaying old mosque.

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abandoned mosque out in the desert

We all climbed up the minaret, again for some great views.

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up in the minaret

As we returned to our car a man in a 4-wheel drive came along and asked what we were doing. In broken Arabic and English he told us to follow him and he would take us to the cave. About 30 minutes later we arrived. It’s hard for me to imagine someone going 30 minutes out of their way to guide a visitor to something in the States? He left and we climbed around and down inside this cave. It was about 40 meters deep and just randomly out in the middle of the desert.

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inside the Musfer Sinkhole (Karst Cave)

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entrance to the Musfer Sinkhole (Karst Cave)

We returned to the city and stopped at a mall with a Venetian theme – it had a canal complete with water taxis and the ceiling was painted with clouds and blue sky.

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canal and water taxi in the mall

The Middle East seems to have a “thing” for malls. The purpose of the mall stop was to find a restaurant that was open. From there we drove to “Education City” and stopped to see Qatar Academy.

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Qatar Academy in Education City

It is a beautiful new facility housing preschool through Grade 12 education and is linked with some American universities (including Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon, and Georgetown). We stopped and looked around inside Qatar Academy secondary school and talked to a couple primary teachers. We were advised to stay where we were if we were happy.

Then we decided to drive out to The Pearl (The Pearl-Qatar in Doha, Qatar, is an artificial island spanning nearly four million square meters. It is the first land in Qatar to be available for freehold ownership by foreign nationals.) Opulent and largely populated by white people from what we saw. Beautiful houses and a gorgeous setting from which to watch the sunset.

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sunset from The Pearl

Then we headed to a Belgian pub in another opulent hotel for happy hour. Back to the dump hotel for a quick freshen-up and then on to the Souq Waqif.

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Souq Waqif

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mosque and moon from the Souq Waqif

This is my favorite souq to-date. It was full of ambiance and so much to look at. We had dinner at one place (I think it was Iranian) and then walked down to another place for shisha. From there it was tumble into bed exhausted.

After breakfast at the hotel, we headed for the airport where we were told we were on standby. Apparently this happens with some frequency on Qatar Air. For some reason an earlier flight was delayed and in order to accommodate those passengers we were bumped. We were told we would receive $125 compensation and use of the “Silver Lounge” or take an even later flight and fly first class. We didn’t want to arrive so late, so opted for the Sliver Lounge and compensation. The lounge had a buffet of free food and drinks (nonalcoholic) and comfortable chairs. We chilled there for several hours and then boarded our flight, arriving in Mahboula at about 5:30 pm.

Great weekend get-away!

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. maryronw
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 13:56:30

    Hi Pam, Sure enjoyed your travels this morning. You write so well. You were daring to go out into the desert like that. It will be so fun to hear more this summer. We are still at the Lake due to my bad back. I am having a MRI this morning so hopefully will know more what is ahead of me. U. Ron is well in time to take care of me. We will make it and can even manage to laugh at ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing your life with us. We love you, Pam

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply

  2. janice
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 14:14:09

    WOW! I love traveling vicariously with you!

    Reply

  3. Kathy
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 14:18:32

    Hi Pam! Thanks for the wonderful travel log and pictures. It looks like it was a great weekend. We miss you here but you’ll be glad to know it was 13 degrees this morning and a sunny desert sounds pretty nice! LIPEO, Kathy H

    Reply

  4. Liz Mitchell
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 16:56:22

    Now the visit will be engraved in your memory !!!! Liz Mitchell

    Reply

  5. Ronna
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 22:02:47

    That sounds like so much fun—-as you seem to always have!

    Reply

  6. adriannedawn
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 22:40:58

    What an adventure! I’m so happy for you to be going to all of these fun places. Can’t wait to talk to you soon! I love you! xoxo

    Reply

  7. Judy Taft
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 02:32:41

    I, too, love traveling vicariously with you! You are certainly having some great adventures and experiences. How are things going with the school? Are you enjoying being a drama teacher? We miss you so much in PEO. We are meeting Monday night at my house. Tim is going to Haiti next month on a mission trip. I’ll look forward to hearing about your next adventure. Love, Judy T

    Reply

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