16. May, 2017

How life used to be in Qatar

How life used to be in Qatar

My very first memory of Doha is arriving, exhausted from more than a day's travel where we had left in dramatic cyclonic conditions in northern Australia with three young children, to arrive at the old Doha airport, with guards on the ground carrying machine guns. No one seemed to speak much English, and it all felt somewhat threatening and less than welcoming. Doha has come a long way!

We stayed in the old inner city area, which was all men and we also found this a bit daunting initially. ​ 

We arrived Christmas Eve, during Ramadan, which was an interesting mix of religious observances. Our children were expecting Christmas as they had always known it, but we had to make a lot of adaptions. The Hotel staff were kind and made our Christmas very special and memorable, even if somewhat different from the ways we had previously celebrated.

Our first morning in the hotel was a surprise. I was woken pre-dawn by an Arabic voice shattering my sleep and had no idea what was going on since I had been sleeping so soundly after the trials of travel. Initially I felt panic at the strange message being broadcast by loudspeaker, then settled as I realised it was just the call to prayer. I now actually miss it when I'm travelling outside the Middle East.

There were few grocery stores and no shopping malls until The Mall opened. We learned to eat local foods, which we continue to enjoy to this day.

One of the things I missed most was being able to buy an English language book. This was before eBook’s or even reliable internet, so books had been a staple for me and for my family so every time we travelled we stocked up on books.

I hope you enjoy reading

 All the best,

 Irene Macaree