What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘desert’? Perhaps it brings pictures of camels, snakes, dab lizards, a very dry place with sands and dusty air. It is a landscape that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants.
It was summer when I first stepped down from the airplane to one of the only 20% land areas in the world that receive less than 250 mm of annual precipitation, Qatar. It was night and it was HOT!! Coming from a very beautiful green country with some islands considered as the most beautiful in the world, there’s no surprise I was really shocked. Immediately I started thinking of going back home despite of my need to have a meaningful adventurous experience in my life.
Now let’s forget about the camels, snakes, and dabs. Obviously they exist in some parts of the desert. The country now is mostly associated with oil, and for sure, money. Qatar has experienced rapid economic growth over the last several years due to high oil prices. Before the oil discovery, most of Qataris were fishermen and pearl hunters. However, oil discovery in the beginning of 1940 has completely transformed the state’s economy. Now the state is among the wealthiest nations on earth. Consequently, the cost of living has risen in the last years.
Although having the highest GDP per capita and recently the fastest economy growth in the world, Qatar doesn’t seem to be really nice for new foreigners. The country allocates much money on greenery plants and gardens, yet people can easily find them artificially fake. Unfriendly desert climates with dusty air have left architects no choice except making building and design concepts mostly with brown-sandy color which has irritated my eyes soon as I reached the country.
For some reasons, Qatar is better visited only for short period of time. Having a small geographical area with majority tourist attractions and 80% population living in Doha alone, you will get bored after one week journey to the desert, beaches, and shopping malls. Dukhan, a township where I am living in, is only one hour away from the capital Doha, the road is long enough to slice the country into two pieces on map.
However, if you wish to escape from boredom for some peace or your adrenaline needs an adventurous experience, you can do some activities below:
– Sand Dune/ Desert Safari
This involves off-roading in a four wheel drive vehicle exploring the desert, an adrenaline-packed-ride. The car will explore the desert negotiating the twists of sand, climbing up and accelerating down, a real-life roller coaster through the sliding dunes. You will stop at the highest point to take pictures and also a chance to walk barefoot down the dune.
– Bird Watching
As the country spends money on greenery plants and introduction of parks, gardens and agriculture, the previously desert landscape in some places have experienced an increasing number of migratory birds. You may see beautiful views for photo hunting.
– Falconry/ African Safari
This is one of most fascinating attractions I have seen in Qatar. This involves a falcon hunting a lying pigeon in the air. When hunting, an experienced falconer drives his falcon ahead to pursue the pigeon. We follow the bird by car to ensure that we are on the spot within a few seconds when the falcon catches the prey.
Qatar is like my morning-coffee, brownish. Yet with the sexy Corniche Beach downtown of Doha that gives off a whiff of Arabian beauty, huge hydrocarbon reserves, most expensive cars on the streets, beautiful ladies wearing expensive jewels, and ‘kaskha’ Arab men with carefully angled ghetras and upright walks, the brownish Qatar with its wealth is absolutely not my regular-morning-coffee. This is St. Helena and Kopi Luwak, blending together in my coffee cup.
Like many other people, I came to Qatar for work. Having left my previous job, family, and friends, I really hope this move will pay me a worth in return someday.