Try new things and be healthy.
That was the advice I gave my 10-year old nephew before I began my adventure to Qatar. I am always encouraging him to be more adventurous and more active.
After my first month in Qatar, I realized the same advice applies to me.
Unlike other times I have worked with the military, this is trip is less “deployment” and more “business trip”. I am living on the local economy and riding to the base every day for my daily shift. I shop at the local grocery stores, eat at the local restaurants, and peruse the local markets.
I do work. I work 50+ hours a week, 6 days a week, and have Sundays off. On Sunday, I try to explore – either sight-see or eat somewhere new. So far outside of my neighborhood, I have been to the main souq (market) and to The Pearl, a high-end residential and shopping district on a man-made island slightly off the coast of Qatar.
I am trying new things.
I am also trying to take a lot of pictures; you can find them here:
Recently, a friend mentioned that Doha sorta resembles Miami. I think that is a fair comparison. Both are large affluent coastal cities with splashy new buildings and a heavy ethnic influence.
While there are some similarities to places in the States, there are definitely some differences. First and foremost is the government. Qatar is governed by the al-Thani family. An image of the Emir is on almost every building and on bumper stickers, walls, and fences. His face is everywhere.
Another huge difference is driving. Thousands of cars in a small area with construction everywhere makes for very congested streets. Although hearing horns, seeing people get cut off, and witnessing accidents are regular occurrence, I have yet to see any acts of road rage. No yelling, no middle fingers, no fights. It’s like they all understand offensive driving.
The third difference is the lack of alcohol. While there is alcohol allowed in Qatar, it is restricted to those with permits or to international hotel bars. Since I don’t have a permit nor have been to an international hotel, I haven’t had a drink in a month.
And that brings me to my other piece of advice: Be healthy.
My goal out here is to eat healthier (when not tasting local fare) and develop a regular gym schedule, something I struggle with in the States. I am down a few pounds already.
There are still a lot of things I have yet to do out here. I haven’t visited any of the museums or cultural areas, I haven’t driven on the sand dunes, and I haven’t explored the City Center. But with settling in and getting out a bit, I am definitely calling the first month in Qatar a success.