Thursday, September 13, 2018


Stopover at the airport - the city sightseeing

Doha is the main airport of the Qatar airways. Often, if you have connected flights, the stopover is at this airport. If the break takes several hours, you can go on a city tour organised by the airport. They starts at 6 o'clock in the morning. You don't have to go with them, you can go on a trip yourself. The buses operates more or less until midnight. You may rent a car with a driver for $25 per hour. This service is also offered by the airport and it is available 24 hours a day. A taxi to the city center costs about 50 QAT ($14). It's better to go on the trip at night. We were in Doha at the end of September, in the middle of night there was 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius). During the day it could be even 104-122 degrees Fahrenheit (40-50 degrees Celsius) in the shade!

History of Qatar and the Doha capital

In past, Qatar was under the authority of Great Britain. In 1971 they announced independence. From 1973, the poor country very quickly transformed into the richest country in the world. They are so rich, because they have one of the largest resources of natural gas. They also export oil. Most of the population are non-Qatari - cheap workforce from Africa and Asia, and specialists from West Europe. It's difficult to meet real Qatari in Qatar. The capital has changed significantly since 1973. Nowadays, there are huge and very modern skyscrapers, they built an artificial island for 15 billion dollars. In 2022 the FIFA World Cup will be held in Doha. Especially for that, they are building fully air-conditioned stadiums - the first such in the world. Climatologists expect that Doha, the city on desert will cease to be habitable in 2070 due to global warming.

The political situation in Qatar

In 2017 Qatar was accused of financing terrorism. Instantly diplomatic relations with neighbours were broken off, in particular with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The situation is very serious. In 2018 Saudi Arabia prepared a project to build a huge canal at the border with Qatar. In the result Qatar will become an island separated from the mainland. Qatar has denied these accusations. Probably in order to warm up their image, Qatar resigned from visa requirement for many countries including Poland and others in Europe. I was in Qatar shortly after these revelations. I could feel that people in Qatar treat that situation very seriously. They willingly talked about what happened and repeatedly emphasized that their emir is right and they give him solid support.

Arrest of tourists in Doha

We were in the city at 1-2 am. The temperature was 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius), the humidity was also high, so the sightseeing is uncomfortable. I can't imagine how it would be during the day. Local taxi drivers gently ask us if we need a ride. They aren't pushy like the taxi drivers in Asia. Suddenly, after 40 minutes of the tour, a police car stops in front of us. Black policeman gets out and grabs my photo camera. He is very strident. He wants to see photos. He is unpleasant, hyperactive. The second policeman is calm. Finally, he takes photo camera, passports, cellphones. He is very chaotic in what he does. We ask what's wrong, without any answer. Another police car arrived and at least two unmarked cars. Beside regular policemen there is also one in civil clothes and two in their characteristic white, long outfit called thawbs. The whole street in the middle of the night is full of the police cars, some of them have roof lights on. Newly arrived people don't pay attention to us, or they pretend that. They talk with the policemen for a moment. At the very beginning I thought that the police man wanted to steal my photo camera. When more policemen arrived I realized it is about something else. The hyperactive policeman is still hyperactive when others calm us down and they say that everything is ok. In the end, other policeman takes my photo camera and he goes away. They told us to get into another police car. We go to the police station. On the place everyone goes somewhere. We are left at the corridor and we don't know what we should do now.New policeman from the police station come to us. I apologizes to us and explain they have difficult political situation (Saudi Arabia, etc.), he says the atmosphere is tense in the country. It is not allowed to take photos in the diplomatic district. It seems we were there. The policeman added, we can take photo in every other place. The district looked very ordinary. High buildings, normal streets, some monument. There were no signs, anything saying that the taking photos is prohibited. They gave back the photo camera. They did not remove anything from the memory card. Probably our passports were photocopied. We could sit down in the lobby, they gave us cold drinks.
A white man dressed in civilian clothes, in shorts came to the lobby. He talks with us. He told he is Italian, later it turned out that he is half Italian from Naples half Qatari. He told he knows the Trump family, he is not Islamic, he is tourist that came here 5 days ago, etc. This suspicious man probably tried to figure out if we really are who we said to be. In the end, he gave us a case for the iPhone7 with photo of Qatar Emir on it. They called taxi for us to the airport. The policemen paid for that.
We discouraged from sightseeing anything in this city. We came back straight to the airport. We calmed down and waited for the last flight to Poland until morning. For the short time before we were arrested, we could see a big, concrete city with tons of skyscrapers. I did not have enough time to see anything I could call a tourist attraction and recommend it.

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