The top photo shows a new development area with mansions being build for (upper) middle class; a social group that seems to be growing in size. However, as the picture elsewhere in my blog http://www.clemenssuter.com shows, not everybody is benefiting from economic opportunities – which aren’t really marvelous: the Egyptian pound dropped in value by half (!) in 2016. The picture at the bottom shows travelers from many different origins at Kuwait airport. The plane to Cairo suffered terrible delays, I arrived in Cairo at 2am.
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Qatar is an emirate on the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia is the next door neighbor, with Qatar itself sticking out into the Persian Gulf and bordered by the sea on three sides.
it was VERY hot and unexpectedly humid. Qatar is a desert country and I thought it would be hot and dry. Not so: the hot and humid air swapped in from the Persian Gulf. Qatar is very tidy and modern. The people who I met were industrious and friendly, yet perhaps a bit aloof.
Some Qatar facts
2.5 million people live in Qatar, of which 10% call themselves Qatari and have the hard-to-get passport. An Emir rules the country. Large natural gas reserves drive the economy. The vast majority of people come from other countries: they want to find work with better pay than in their home country. Taxi drivers and technologists, you meet people from all kinds of countries.
Above: An early morning view from the hotel. Persia / Iran is on the opposite side of this body of water. Kuwait is on the left, and the Emirates are on the right.
Below: The high-rise opposite of the hotel. None of these buildings are older than 10-15 years. Qatar is booming, and constant renewal is underway.
Experience the heat
Below: All buildings are air-conditioned. I entered my hotel room, and it was stunningly cold. I put the air-conditioner up to the 27C (it was on 18C originally), and after a few hours the temperature was halfway OK. On the other hand, as I walked out of the hotel lobby, the heat and humidity hit like a hammer, it felt like 50C. That was only on the first day, the following day was much better. Or did I get used to it? In any case, I wondered what the high of summer would be like. Locals said that depending on the time of year, a hot and very dusty wind blows from Africa, the Khamsin, which can cause a sense of nausia.
Taken together: an intriguing country. I was glad that I visited for work, as I am not sure what sites a tourist would want to visit. Qatar is a desert country, with not much to see. Doha is a newly built ‘island’ of high rises and businesses. There are very few trees, and anything that is old or broken is replaced.
More travel news here.
During my stay in the Middle East, I also visited Doha, capital of Qatar. The movie below I made on my way from the airport to the hotel.
Doha has been hailed as one of the most boring towns in the world, and as I could establish there is considerable truth to this rumor. The town has very little history left, it is new and fully focused on business; it is very car-centric (many, many SUVs) and recreational offers are negligible. The Souk is a small market with stores that sell tortured exotic animals and mini-dogs. The climate is terribly humid and hot; a quick stroll is only possible after sunset. As an Islamic country, there is no (or little) alcohol for sale – but even I as a teetotaler can only say that the town is dull; I can’t blame the absence of alcohol. I was visiting on business with a calendar full of appointments and thus I was preoccupied enough, yet during my quick tours through the city I was quite disappointed. Perhaps some of you readers have a different experiences to share. Perhaps an interesting museum or cinema that I missed? Pole dancing? A gay bar? I guess not.
The boycott by Saudi Arabia was in full swing at the time, but it didn’t seem to have affected the Qatari much. They even imported 4000 Friesian cows from Australia and put them in an air-conditioned hall, to make sure enough milk could be produced, which was imported from Arabia up to that point.
Women stay mostly at home (probably playing with the mini dogs), and the men tend to take their SUVs out for a spin at night; driving endless circles through the town. I got bored out of my skull just watching them occupied with this brain-dead non-activity. No wonder VD is an issue; usually picked up in foreign countries I’ve heard.
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I didn’t read the original novel by Siegfried Lenz (1968), so the story was completely new to me. A wartime movie, with a village policeman (initially) forced to prohibit his friend from painting; common practice in Nazi Germany. But the story has many levels: it addresses the conflict of a father/son relationship (with the painter competing for that role); the battle between good and evil (how can any painting be bad for society?); the decline into fanaticism and sticking to the party rules; how do we deal with populism in our own age; how can it be that hardened war criminals simply return and continue as before…?
The backdrop of the German coast, with constant rain torturing the characters, complements a very intriguing story that forces the viewer to continue to watch.
You can find the movie here in IMDb.
You can find all my favorite movies here on IMDb.
I stopped over in Egypt – two days packed with impressions. I have published a couple of articles in my blog http://www.clemenssuter.com.
Above: The sun sets early in Cairo, always a special sight. The light is yellow and exotic – although I guess the air pollution produced by the massive amounts of cars certainly also plays a role. I was on business, so had basically no time for sightseeing. Most of these pictures were taken in transit from A to B.
Above: Many Egyptian citizens move from the country-side to Cairo, and high rises are constructed quickly, in many cases illegally and without utilities, to house these new city dwellers. Economically, Egypt is under a lot of strain, but the people who I met are very engaged and want to improve their country.
Above: the river Nile, beautiful by night. Many people about, as the best Egyptian soccer team was in town. A gentleman approached me, who escorted me to a perfume store; Cairo is always open for business ;-)
I managed to get a glance of these majestic man-made monuments as we drove out of one of the most densely populated capitals in the world.Reading. take your book or your eBook – you can read anywhere.