Qatar, a peninsula shaped country juts out from Saudi Arabia, is an oil rich kingdom in the Persian Gulf.  it was the starting point for two-week trip to Pakistan and Taliban controlled Afghanistan as well as Dubai and Bahrain. To get to Qatar, it was difficult to navigate through all of the Covid requirements. Qatar was the only country that had any remining Covid requirements on my trip, and they were long and confusing. It was also one of the last countries with a mask mandate both indoor and outdoor that I had visited in ages. Even Qatar Airways, the airline I flew from LAX to Qatar required a mask but only in Economy and not on the business and first class. It seems Covid is only active among the poor economy class. But in the end thankfully I didn’t have to wear a mask for 16 hours because no one not even the flight attendants actually wore a mask. Despite the long loist of Covid requirements, they were not enforced in Qatar. It is almost as if they have decided to not remove them to create a perception of Covid safety in anticipation of the World Cup being hosted by Qatar in the upcoming months.

Location of Qatar

Qatar, like Dubai and other Gulf countries is looking to an economy beyond oil and has invested heavily into its real estate and financial sector. A skyline of newly built buildings, many with innovative designs has popped up seemingly overnight in recent years and international events like the World Cup are designed to attract recognition and investment from the rest of the world. 8 new stadiums were constructed just for the World Cup and a handful of them are temporary structures and after the games they will be disassembled and donated to African countries. Also, like Dubai, much of the sea has been dredged and reclaimed and developers have made fanciful islands with wealthy homes in different un-natural shapes.

Last Alcoholic Beverage for the Next Few Weeks

When my friend John and I arrived at Qatar, we were greeted by a blast of heat and humidity as soon as we stepped out of the cool air-conditioned airport. The 110 humid summer heat is as hot as any country in the world can get. To escape the heat, we went straight to the hotel, a Hilton on the beach, to have a drink and go for a swim in the Persian Gulf. The problem was the warm waters of the Persian Gulf were just as hot as the air. 

Swimming in the warm Persian Gulf Waters at Our Hotel

After swimming we arranged for jet ski rentals to visit Al Safliya Island, a deserted island with a long strip of sand nestled in between tropical colored waters with an incredible view of the Doha skyline.

View of Doha Skyline from Our Hotel at Night

Waking up early to Watch Sunrise Over Persian Gulf

Weirdly enough, the jet skis weren’t available in the early morning when it was cool. Instead, we had to wait until 10am, when it was already blasting hot outside to take one to the island. The island is a few miles away but at full speed, it takes only about 10 minutes to arrive there. We loaded up on water and took the number of the owner in case of a breakdown. Getting to the island was a little tricky. There were lots of shallow sand bars and due to shallow reefs ringing the island, we had to park the jet ski in the water and walk to the island bare foot over sharp rock. 

 

Me at Al Safliya Island

On the way back, we skid passed the perimeter of the Prince’s Palace, getting the attention of the Coast Guard that patrol a security perimeter and we flipped the jet ski over. Then in the afternoon on the way to the airport, we paid the taxi driver to take us on a short tour of Doha. 

 

Skyline of Empty Almost Toy Looking Newly Constructed Buildings on the Waterfront on Freshly Dredged and Reclaimed Land from the Persian Gulf

Doha’s attempt at Venice

Image of King on Skyscraper

Unique Building 

Doha Skyline

New buildings, many vacant, were everywhere, while many more were being constructed. Doha is definitely a quieter and less busy city than Dubai but there are many similarities, such as the rampant construction, flashing of wealth and general artificial appearance.

After our short tour, we passed one of the new World Cup stadiums and the airport terminal building, built just for the king on the way to the airport. From the airport we flew Qatar Airways to Islamabad on Qatar Airways.

 

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