I recently discovered the differences between a layover and a stopover.
A layover is short, typically a few hours and doesn’t involve leaving the airport.
A stopover is longer, long enough to get out of the airport and see something.
So, when I booked my autumn flight to Bali – after the summertime in Europe – I was playing with the idea of a stopover somewhere new and exciting.
Skyscanner did the rest. Presenting me a flight Amsterdam-Denpasar with a transfer in Doha, Qatar.
A weekend in Qatar
I had the luck to visit a few Arab states in the Persian Gulf.
The United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and mighty Saudi Arabia.
The deserts, men’s keffiyeh, the souk‘s, the call for prayers. Everything is so different and so fascinating.
No need to say, I was super-curious to see what I could understand and experience in Qatar.
I spent a total of four nights in Doha, at Michael’s place Mi Casa Es Su Casa (highly recommended!).
Did I understand much? I doubt it.
And what about the experiences? Just a few.
Below you find my random notes after visiting Doha, Qatar:
- 82% of the population is made by foreigner workers, that’s second only to UAE
- it’s said to be the richest country in the world, but it doesn’t show
- education and healthcare are free in Qatar, as it should be everywhere
- it has the world’s largest gas fields
- I was expecting another Dubai, but I found it more authentic and livable here (it’s not a giant shopping mall, hint hint)
- there’s Salsa dancing in Qatar!
- driving a car in the countryside was a great experience!
- there are construction sites everywhere. Lots of building is going on for the 2022 FIFA thing
- almost every Uber driver offered me prostitutes
- first time eating Indian food by hands, they didn’t Bahrain me cutleries and I didn’t ask for them
- a visit at the museum of Islamic art is a must:
- the souq and corniche area are top!
- the embargo from neighbors countries drove the prices up and the visitors down
- to rely less on import, they got 4,000 cows shipped over!
- walking the 5km corniche is probably the best bad idea I had:
- at the entrance of Qatar’s museum is written: “everything is going to be alright”, some optimism against the blockade
- the national museum is almost finished and it’s a stunning huge building shaped like a desert rose. Now they have to find what to put in it, I guess…
- like in other Arab countries, social classes are well defined and accepted. I was chatting with two Indian guys in the street when we had to cross the road to get to the museum of Islamic Art. The policeman quickly sent my new friends away, telling them they could not cross because there was an important visit. But at the same time, he invited me to cross the street. More than an hour later, as I was leaving the museum, I saw again the Indian guys. The had to go a long way to reach the museum and didn’t seem bothered by the police behavior at all!
- it’s often unclear where food is exactly coming from. Qatari can discuss this for hours, and meat
is no exception: machboos
The Middle East is so different than anything else, it always makes for an interesting visit!