Top 5 impressions from Cairo

I had about two hours off, so I grabbed the opportunity for a walk through the city center of Cairo. Very few tourists about, but many Egyptians who used the day for shopping – this was a religious holiday, and most Egyptians had a day off.

Below: a beautiful old mosque hidden deep in the narrow streets drew many local visitors. I tried to enter as well, but the doorman shouted “tomorrow!” And banged the door shut in my face. I presume they were just calling it a day. I checked my watch and it was almost five.

Below: in the absence of a guide or guidebook, neither purpose, name or history of the sites that I passed could easily be determined – yet their beauty was unchallenged. There is satisfaction in letting a town work on you, without constantly studying facts or staring into a smartphone.

Below: a boy selling bread in the street. He had a devastatingly loud whistle to get attention – this didn’t work too well, as he wasn’t selling much.

People out for a stroll and shopping. Merchants of the same trade share the same street: one street is full with dealers of carpets, another street for electric appliances, and yet another alley for shops that focus on metal pots and pans.
The city is overflowing with people, millions and millions. The pictures do not bring this across, but Cairo is all about people, people and people.

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Qatar – three days immersed in the Middle East

Below the lobby of the hotel where I was staying. The room was freezing cold, air ongoing full blast, but the hotel was pleasant enough. Although: the breakfast buffet had a price tag of $30 – how much can a man eat for breakfast? I discovered that Qatari cheese is very salty and rubbery, takes gettin used to.
I learned a lot from my colleagues how the state of Qatar ticks and functions. It is intriguing how this society differs so much from ours, with strict Islam implemented.

Below: the skyline of Doha. Skyscrapers ate being built at rocket speed (like all over the world, seems to be the new pastime) but the country itself is mainly desert. With 300,000 Qataris and 2.5 million expats, the demographics are exceptional. There are a few additional cities, but they are in the desert, close to the natural gas fields and intended for the laborers. Here’s a tourist secret:… Doha is the most mind-numbing boring city that I have ever visited (and I have visited a few). My impression is that the Qataris hide and party (?) with their families behind the walls of their country estates; the migrants forlornly wander the boring streets trying not to think about alcohol: there isn’t any / much. I neither drink nor miss alcohol, but even for me Doha offered a new perspective on boredom.

Below: to defy the Saudi boycott, which kicked in 2018, the Qataris have put up portraits of the Emir all over to show their  solidarity. The Arabs had hoped that the Qataris would topple their Emir, but no way, Jose.

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Photos from Egypt – more about my trip to the country of the Pharaos

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.

Read more here: http://www.clemenssuter.com

A trip to the Middle East. Impressions and Photos from Qatar

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.

First impressions

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.

A hot and moist view from the hotel.

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.

View from the Hilton

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.

Leaving the hotel. The heat was excruciating.

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.

Is Doha the Amazingly Deadliest Boring Capital in the World? A Journey to Qatar.

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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Citizens (men only) giving the four wheels a lackluster spin. At least the weather is in their favor.

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More photos from our trip to south England

Below the study of Charles Darwin, perhaps the greatest scientist of all time. We visited his family home Downe House, located south of London.

Vacation in England is incomplete without the occasional shower. You can see some of the raindrops on the window of our small caravan. Beautiful sunset though.

We visited Brighton – I have chosen an atypical motif. Or is it? Not so sure as Brighton is a surprising city.

Cream tea is a traditional!