Saturday, 24 November 2012

Images from Qatar

View from my 10th floor at Qatar's Best Western hotel
I spent most of my week in a conference
If I'm honest (which I am) I didn't have much time while in Qatar to do anything but work. Everyday, around 8am, I was out of my hotel, the Best Western on Old Salata Street, and in the hotel limo being ferried the 25-minute journey to the Grand Hyatt where, incidentally, Robert de Niro was staying, apparently.

My hotel was very pleasant, mainly because it was quiet and out of the way, although only ten minutes or so from the airport, which was handy on Friday as it meant that I didn't have to get up at an ungodly hour. Well, that depends on your point of view. I asked for an early morning call as my mobile phone had run out of power and I'd left my charger at home. The early morning call, however, did not materialise and it was fortunate that the early morning sun, rising over the buildings, sent a hot, white beam into my room as the curtains were drawn slightly apart.

I jumped out of bed, finished packing up my stuff and then headed downstairs to pay my bill and get a taxi to Doha International airport. I shared my taxi with an offshore engineer from Streatham (yes, it's a small world) and he too had been staying at the Best Western.

I was on the 10th floor, right at the top, in room 1001. There was a small swimming pool on the 11th floor but I had no time and no trunks, which was mildly annoying, although I knew that I wouldn't have the time or inclination. The pool was small and indoors and went I reached my room I would blog for a bit, do the news for the newsletter (and the website) and then hit the sack. I never once switched on my flatscreen television, the hotel was dry (meaning there was no bar, the nearest being at the Movenpick down the road, but a drink's not that important. Not anymore).

Outdoor pool at the Grand Hyatt.
I slept like a log although the air-con breathed cold air on my face, prompting me to turn down the fan and increase the temperature. Qatar is one of those places where it's colder inside than it is outside, although at this time of year, it's a perfect 29 to 31 deg C outside. The sun is hot, though. And people are warned not to go out walking in the morning. I had plans to stroll along the Corniche (a long promenade offering views of the sea and the huge and impressive skyscrapers across the water). I never had time.

Each morning after washing and showering I would head for the Mezzanine floor for breakfast, consisting of fresh fruit and Rice Krispies plus a cup of tea and then it was off to the Grand Hyatt to work, for the whole day. In the evening there was always something going on. Day one it was a reception (where only fruit juices were served) and on day two there was Qatari Night, an evening of Arab culture and food, which was very good fun. On Thursday night there was an Arab Culture evening: music and a tour of an amazing museum. I can't remember the details because I rarely listen to tour guides (never have, never will but why, I don't know). The museum contained the cars and various items of Arab memorabilia of a wealthy Qatari.

Matchless motorcycle in the museum

The engineer from Streatham took me by surprise. I jumped into the front seat of the cab and there he was in the back. He was a pleasant man, educated in Swansea but hailing originally from Yorkshire. His wife was a gynaecologist and he was considering applying for a job in Perth, Australia. Once we reached the airport we parted without even a goodbye, but it wasn't out of rudeness. I checked in and wandered off in search of my colleague, who I didn't see until I reached gate B33. I saw him again on the flight from Dubai to London, but only fleetingly and he didn't see me.

The Doha to Dubai flight was smooth and pleasant. The Dubai to London flight was alright, but I was getting tired of flying and sat there basically counting down the hours until we arrived at Gatwick.

Being only three hours ahead of the UK there was little, if any, jetlag, but the rain prevented a ride and I aborted anyway as I needed the lie-in.

The post contains some images taken by me using the Lumix. I couldn't post them earlier as I didn't have the magical USB lead that enables me to upload images.

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