Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Not Have Outdoor Airconditioning in the Desert?

Qatar is a growing nation with a lot (A LOT) of money to spend. Hosting the 2006 Asian Games was not enough. We've seen several international sporting events come to Qatar.

But all of those (in the winter) are not enough. Qatar wants YOU! to Back the Bid for the 2022 World Cup Games in Qatar.

They are planning on building shaded, air-conditioned stadiums. Interesting! I kind of hope Qatar wins the bid just so we can see how they're going to pull that off.

Until Next Time,


Image Credits:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Another Insightful NYT Article about Qatar

So this journalist, Michael Slackman, from the New York Times has done it again. I hope he is far from Qatar because he has written some very (true) critical things about this little sandbox.

Give it a gander. He apparently interviewed and followed a few expats and Qataris for a week while in Doha. He gives a balance of quotes from both expats and Qataris, but somehow I just don't feel sorry for the locals when these are the highlights of the story:

  • Qataris do not see themselves as coddled. Sure, they do not have to pay for electricity, water, education or health care, and they are given land and low-cost loans to build houses when they marry. They are eligible for public assistance if they do not have a job, often receive generous pensions and acknowledge they will not take any jobs they do not consider suitable for them.

  • Another Qatari man said that the foreigners were never willing to teach him new skills, so he had lost motivation. “I have been working there for three years, and I still haven’t fully grasped the work,” he said. “I go to work to drink tea and read the paper.”

  • Ibrahim al-Muhairy, 29, a Qatari high school dropout who said he earns about $41,000 a year working for the government as a security guard in a mall. “Everyone is getting what he deserves and more.”

  • “We are all angry for staying at home,” (This was said when explaining that some Qataris have lost their jobs to foreigners.)
It will be very interesting to see what becomes of Qatar after the gas and oil run out or in just 20 years time....

Until Next Time,


Photo credit:,1207068993,5/stock-photo-covered-qatari-women-with-their-children-and-housemaid-strolling-on-the-corniche-in-doha-spring-11007220.jpg

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blindness in Qatar

There's a new New York Times article out about Qatar's growing blind population. It mentions a little about the previous NYT's article and how marrying first cousins might be a cause of so much blindness.

A very fortunate woman, Dr. Heji, who went blind was given the opportunity to learn English, go abroad, and earn a PhD. She says that there are many obstacles for the blind in Qatar despite their growing numbers.

  • Qatar's cities are built for cars
  • Dogs are not well received here so seeing eye dogs aren't feasible
  • Many still marry first cousins and other close relatives

It is a good article. Read it!

Until Next Time,



Well, we finally did it. We joined a fitness center in Doha. We chose Aspire Fitness which has a whole slew of programs. The facilities are where they held the 2006 Asian Games too.
With so many different buildings and equipment they are capable of doing such things as the Academy Sports Program which trains young talented athletes from all over the world. That program is all encompassing with academic classes, housing, cafeterias, and training for the athletes.

In addition to grooming Qatar's national sports teams Aspire also has fitness memberships for all. Well, maybe Aspire serves their own first and others later if there is space. In fact, on the Aspire website you will see this:

"If space is limited for any program, registration priorities shall be 1) Qatari, 2) non-Qatari born in Qatar, 3) residents of Qatar of any nationality, 4) non-residents of Qatar."

Well, thank goodness Qataris don't seem to like exercise (see last week's post about The New York Time's article) or we might not get to join a gym! After looking at their memberships online we decided the location close to home, high quality facilities, and membership fees were all good. Interestingly enough their system is the opposite of an American fitness center. Here we pay a flat rate for the use of classes only. Joining the gym (weigh lifting and machines) and swimming pool are considered add on memberships. Also, memberships begin only on day 1 of the month and end on the last day of the month. In addition, as a new member you are only allowed to join for one month. After that, you can join for only 3 months or 9 months.
Here is what we paid and what we are getting:
  • 1 month Family Membership* (It is good to be married! 2 of 1 deals abound!) 350 QR (approx. $96 USD)
  • 1 month Men's Gym 200 QR (approx. $54 USD)

* We can go to any classes for this membership fee. Some of the men's classes are open to both men and women. However, only women can go to the women's classes. In fact, the two are separated by about a half mile. We did not join the indoor swimming pool because it is only opened for us from 7PM - 8PM.

I saw the May Women's Fitness Class Schedule online and decided that after three whole days of not using our May 1st - May 31st membership that we'd better get to it! My experience was surreal. It was the first time in Qatar that I truly felt at ease. I wore my typical black spandex capri running pants and a form fitting synthetic work out shirt - but nobody stared at me. I saw all around me a variety of colors - of clothing and skin. Boy did I see skin! In fact, cell phones are not allowed inside the women's fitness center. Not only did we have to check phones at the door but we had to walk through metal detectors and face the possibility of being wanded while our bags were searched. I guess the security lady did think I was a threat because I was motioned to just walk on by without search.

I saw all sorts of women there - Westerners, Indians, Filipinos, Arabs from other GCC and Qataris. Almost all Arabs went into the facilities completely cloaked in black draping abayas, but entered the class in spandex/tight fitting leggings and cleavage bearing tank tops of all colors. Glorious colors! The desert and all the black abayas leave us with no colors at all in Qatar.

I originally lined up to attend the Body Shape class, but the line extended around the classroom. I wasn't going to get in and an Aspire Fitness Center woman told me just that. She told me to go to another studio where I could attend Pilates. Now, I'm much more of a strength, tone, run, run, and run some more kind of gal so I wasn't too keen on going to Pilates. I'm glad I did though. I got to hear the most lovely accent from a gracefully aging expert Pilates instructor and a great story to boot!

Our tiny, weathered and toned 50-something instructor walked in to class apologizing that the class was already so full. She explained that we would be doing some "controlled" movements to straighten our cores. In addition to her (Russian? Polish?) accent I cannot forget the word she kept using the entire hour: Beautiful!

The Pilates instructor would move around the room saying "for Fitness women you can do this like this" which was followed by her demonstrating a more advanced movement. After that, she would say, "for all you beautiful ladies you can do it like this," after which she would do a much easier movement.

I kept wondering 'who is she talking to? Beautiful ladies? Is she just trying to patronize the local Qatari women in the class, or bow to them?'

Only later did I find out to whom she was referring in class. After the one hour of Pilates I looked around and saw a bulletin board. On the bulletin board I saw it! Aspire Fitness has a program call BeautyFULL for overweight or obese women. Mystery solved! After I told my husband this story (he wasn't there because we were gender segregated!) he said, "BootyFULL?"

Until Next Time,


Photo credits:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I See You!

How exciting! At first I wanted this blog to be private or even closed off to only those I invited. However, I've just added a widget (No, I didn't know what a "widget" was until a couple of days ago.....) called a clustrmap that allows me and all of you to see from which parts of the world people are reading this blog.

Again - HOW EXCITING! I just logged on today, while I should be grading a backlog of assignments, to see people from Austrailia (I know who you are! - I think...), the Midwest of the US, South America, and Northern Europe had all visited this little blog of mine. And just when I looked again - more people!

I guess I better start adding more information about Qatar. I have all sorts of ideas for blog entries in my head, but I just need to be more disciplined.

Until Next Time,