Qatar – Doha

Qatar was celebrating National Day when we exited Saudi Arabia and entered Qatar. There were military parades in the morning which we missed due to the border crossing and fireworks in the evening which we were able to check out at the packed corniche area along with tens of thousands of Qataris and migrant laborers. What a welcome greeting to Qatar! The next day was a full on sightseeing day. We visited The Pearl-Qatar, an artificial island that spared no expense in its construction. The Qanat Quartier neighborhood was modeled after Venice with pastel-hued buildings and Venetian bridges so it was interesting to see a little slice of Italy in Qatar. From The Pearl-Qatar, we made our way over to the Katara Cultural Village which was well worth a visit with an amphitheater, heritage centers, libraries, and art galleries. We were given a free golf cart tour around the complex and then wandered around on our own. Next up was a visit to Souq Waqif which was built on the site of the centuries-old trading market in a traditional style. It was fun to get lost in the marketplace as we stumbled upon the falcon souq, Arabian horse stables, labyrinths of shopping arcades, and restaurants. At sunset, we came across the Royal Mounted Camel Guard atop their camels in front of the Royal Palace for an afternoon exercise session. Later that evening, we had a fun dinner reunion with Mike, an old friend who lives and works in Qatar. On our second full day in Qatar, we had to take PCR tests in order to enter Bahrain, so we went to the Sidra Medicine hospital first thing in the morning to get that out of the way. Afterwards, we checked out 2 of the 8 FIFA World Cup stadiums that Qatar has built in support of the 2022 games. Then we hopped over to the National Museum of Qatar, which was designed in the shape of a desert rose crystal. From there, we walked over the the Museum of Islamic Art which unfortunately was closed for renovations. So we checked out the nearby park before backtracking to the famous pearl monument on the corniche. The real highlight of the day was the camel souq where we befriended the camel caretakers and got to show the camels some love. The pet section of Souq Waqif was depressing to see, as animals are kept in tiny cages in the mid-day heat. Since we didn’t get tired of this magical marketplace yesterday, we got lost exploring more of its nooks and crannies before hopping on the metro to the Katara Cultural Village after sunset. We were expecting to see a sound and light show at the reflection pool but a security guard explained that was a special show that was put on for National Day only. So we consoled ourselves with some amazing Thai food instead. Back at our hotel, we had a Madventure room party much to our neighbors’ dismay. Hotel staff only knocked on our door twice asking us to keep it down and we were able to finish 2 bottles of spirits before tomorrow morning’s border crossing back into Saudi Arabia so we considered it a successful party! Fingers crossed our PCR tests come back negative tomorrow so we can continue on our journey to Bahrain (via Saudi Arabia).

Children waving flags during Qatar National Day Posters of Qatar's eminent rulers James and Dan riding an empty metro carriage early in the morning Lion fountain at The Pearl Qatar, an upscale artificial island with a huge expat communitiy Water fountain in the Medina Centrale district of The Pearl Qatar Central square in the Spanish district (Medina Centrale) of The Pearl Qatar Bahriya Beach; The Pearl Qatar A view of the pastel colored buildings of the Venetian inspired Qanat Quartier, The Pearl Qatar Posing in Qanat Quartier with the U-shaped Katara Towers in the background Metal panther sculpture; Qanat Quartier Venetian bridge in the Qanat Quartier A massive building wrapped in a bow - the Children's Mall; Doha A local walking past a massive display of books; Katara Cultural Village A traditional dhow juxtaposed with modern Doha in the background Qatari boys dressed in traditional white thobes (tunics) Pigeon Towers - an example of traditional Islamic architecture and ingenuity. They were designed to collect pigeon droppings, which was used as a fertilizer for farming Katara Mosque Artwork displayed near the beach at Katara Cultural Village "Terrorist in a hood" sculpture - part of a 3 piece sculpture set entitled "Gandhi's Three Monkeys" by Subodh Gupta Bust of a soldier by Subodh Gupta made entirely from recycled metal dishes; Katara Cultural Village An amphitheater designed for 5000 spectators; Katara Cultural Village Robby reaches towards the "Force of Nature" bronze statue depicting Mother Nature swinging planet Earth in circles The Gold Mosque of Katara Reflection pool with a kinetic art sculpture; Katara Cultural Village Nothing to see here - a man walking around Doha with a sword and nobody bats an eye! Qatar flags hung up everywhere to celebrate National Day; Souq Waqif 18 December is Qatar National Day Detail of thousands of tiny mirrors, hand painted Persian artwork and intricate mosaics for the hallway leading to Parisa restaurant Interior of the lovely Parisa Souq Waqif, an Iranian restaurant in Doha Souq Waqif street scene Souvenirs for sale; Souq Waqif A Qatari chats on his cell phone while sitting in his wheelbarrow; Souq Waqif Selfie time! Studying the Koran National pride is evident in downtown Doha Colorful tassles on display; downtown Doha Falcons at the Falcon Souq, a market dedicated to trained birds A local contemplates buying a falcon, an investment that ranges from $5000 up to $20,000 per bird! Souq Waqif Royal Stable where visitors are welcome to admire the Arabian horses Robby feeds an Arabian horse at the horse stables; Souq Waqif Ponies at the Souq Waqif Royal Stable Traditional well; Souq Waqif Bedouin tent; Souq Waqif Afternoon training session as the Royal Mounted Camel Guard exercise their animals; Doha Colorful wall mural on the side of a metro stop; Doha Dinner with our good friend Mike who loves living and working in Qatar Damien Hirst's enormous human fetus monuments entitled "The Miraculous Journey" Yield sign with a man wearing a Qatari thobe Renee, Dan and Becky waving Qatar flags in front of the Education City Stadium, one of 8 FIFA world cup stadiums built by host country Qatar for 2022 Stadium 974, aptly named because of the 974 recycled shipping containers used to build this temporary FIFA stadium. After the world cup, the containers will be donated to Africa Exterior of the National Museum of Qatar, built to resemble a desert rose crystal The sculpture of hands holding the flagpole is called "Flag of Glory"; National Museum of Qatar National Museum of Qatar playground Fountain in front of the Orient Pearl Restaurant; Doha Salata Park; Doha Traditional boats in the bay next to MIA Park; Doha Renee and Robby soaking up the sun; MIA Park Museum of Islamic Art Capsized boat on the Doha corniche The iconic Pearl Monument pays homage to Qatar's history of pearling Camel caretakers; Souq Waqif's camel market A face only a mother could love! The friendly camel caretakers invite us to come in for a photo op A massive poster of the Emir of Qatar and his father (the former Emir); Doha Flags of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani A local checking out the pet market; Souq Waqif Tortoises for sale; Souq Waqif Lovebirds for sale; Souq Waqif Locals resting; Souq Waqif "I love Qatar" Laborer resting in his wheelbarrow; Souq Waqif Salt and pepper shakers; Souq Waqif Colorful pillows and carpets for sale; Souq Waqif Perfume bottles Robby rides a camel; Souq Waqif Metal lamps for sale in Souq Waqif A variety of clay pots for sale The spiral shaped tower of Fanar; Qatar Islamic Cultural Center Gold souq Colorful lamp for sale; Souq Waqif Miniature bedouin tent Robby stands in front of the golden "Thumb in the Souq"; Souq Waqif Qatari royal guards on horseback; Souq Waqif Layali Al-Qahira Egyptian restaurant; Doha Al Koot Fort Traditional Arabian buildings in Souq Waqif Qatari woman applying henna Carpet stores of Souq Waqif Two guards in uniform patrolling Souq Waqif Christmas light display at Katara Cultural Village FIFA world cup fever is about to hit Qatar! The reflection pool at night; Katara Cultural Village Night view of the Children's Mall Metro wall mural Room party! Saying goodbye to Sabine who is flying to Germany tomorrow Amazingly, we were able to consume 2 bottles of spirits before tomorrow morning's border crossing back into Saudi Arabia! video lightboxby v6.1

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