Last week I found myself in Doha, Qatar. A place I wouldn’t visit by myself, but still, I was curious.
Even if it was a very short stay, I found time to visit the Museum of Islamic Art. Very interesting. It was the last day of an exhibit about Dutch painting, mostly from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This one being under major renovation, I didn’t saw much of it last November and this exhibit was a pleasant reminder and addition.
But most of the museum is of course about Islamic arts, of any kind : sculpture, paintings, clothes, tiles, glass, … My favourite part was about science and the amazing collection of astrolabes.
From the museum we have of view on the skyline the other side of the bay.
(This picture has been much redrawn to remove the dust screen)
Every single building in Doha seems to have air-conditioning. Which is more than welcome. The temperature went up to 47°C last tuesday. And Doha is along the coast. It gets even higher inland. June is definitely not the best time to come.
During daytime, there is nothing to do outside. Besides museums or staying in a hotel, you can also crawl the « city center », which is actually a huge mall. In the center of which you find an ice-ring ! And this is funny that almost no one on it seems to know ice skating.
The sunset occurs early, around 6pm, and life restarts then. Temperature slowly decrease to it’s minimum, 35°C.
The northern end of the Corniche is the business center of Doha, full of skycrapers, half of them still not finished. It’s quite impressive how everything is very new.
At the seafront is the Sheraton hotel, convenient meeting point. Architecture is not outstanding outside (it looks like a truncated pyramid), but inside is interesting and pleasant, a huge hallway with the ceiling at the height of the top flour.
Doha is not all modern, there is a small neighborhood, south of the bay, wich is still intact, the Souq Wafiq. Is it really ? No it has been mostly rebuilt and is now full of sheesha bars and restaurants. I’ve been there only in the evening and have no picture of it. It reminds me the « Bercy village » in Paris. Mostly because it is a very small area, the only pedestrian street in Doha, and it’s surrounded by car parks.
The city is unlivable for me, no matter how welcoming are the locals. Not only because of the weather, but because it’s not a city for people, it’s a city for cars. Huge white SUVs preferably with air-conditioning. Doha is not made of streets, it’s made of expressways, 3 lanes in each direction. Walking, when the temperature is bearable, leads you to huge detours to find a pedestrian crossing, if one exists. Motorists are not aggressive if you cross anywhere but still the road itself is not friendly. It’s also the first time I saw a drive-in cash machine. Everything is built so that you don’t have to exit your car. Pedestrians are « allowed » in the Souq and along the Corniche, anywhere else you feel like you shouldn’t be there.
Eye-opening glimpse on something totally different from what you can find in Europe.