Monday, June 9, 2008
We went on the tour of Doha today, the capitol of Qatar. Doha has 1/2 million residents (out of 900K population for the whole country) but has the feel of a city the size of Chicago. About 1/3 of population are citizens and the rest are foreign workers hired to do actual work. Petroleum has given this 100x50 mile country the highest per capita income in the world; quite a contrast to Afghanistan which has the third lowest. Construction everywhere! 50 story high rises by the dozen rising within sight of each other. The City Center mall is near the growth area with 370 stores that include Pierre Cardin, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Radio Shack, etc. Everything is in English and Arabic. There's ice skating at the mall. We also visited the old town market area where you can buy all kinds of native hand-made stuff. That's a picture of me have local coffee, which is very strong and sweet. We went to the jewelry district where there are at least 50 jewelers crammed together. We visited the Corniche which is a waterfront park that stretches at least a mile alone the bay that goes into the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. The pearl picture is my buddy Don in front of the monument to the historical pearl diving here. I took pictures of dhows, 3 masted lateen rigged sailboats that they used for fishing and pearl diving before petroleum took over the economy. Saw lots of western families with small kids everywhere. It is so safe that many merchants leave their shops open and empty while they catch a smoke or a bite. We saw the palace of the monarch and the Al Koot Fort built in 1882 when the Ottoman Empire ruled the area. We also went to animal market where they sell camels, goats and donkeys. Camel milk and meat is a local staple, and they race camels. Falconing is also quite popular. We had a terrific lunch of local foods, mainly rice, chicken and lamb.