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Published: April 26th 2016
My first ever stop in the Arabian Peninsula would be the city of Doha in Qatar. Over the last few years, Doha has been growing almost exponentially and has a massive expat population. When the crude was flowing, this country could spend money at will. My Qatar airlines flight arrived in the early afternoon and I immediately got a visitor visa on arrival. This was technically a long layover so may as well go out and explore a new place. Hamad International airport is one of the most advanced airports in the world since opening a few years back, and had everything I could of imagined. They even had international banks throughout so I wouldn't have ATM issues like I've had in many other places. I found the airport bus heading into the city. Another traveller from the UK named Reese was already sitting and waiting for the bus to leave. He was also on a layover. We chatted for a bit while waiting. The bus got going and soon enough I looked at the giant skyline of Doha. We ended up getting off near the Museum of Islamic Art and we both went in to check it out. Incredibly, this
was one of the more interesting museums I've seen. Everything was displayed in a simple manner and the ambience within was just so relaxed. I checked out the first two floors but, realizing it was almost 1600h, I went back into the Main Entrace.
I was meeting a guy named Mikael and I found him on couchsurfing. I hadn't done couchsurfing in ages but I've had fantastic experiences, and I was hoping to do some again this trip. Mikael was originally from Egypt but living in Doha already for a few years. He got caught in traffic but made it to meet me. He seemed pretty cool right off the bat, but told me that he had some sort of work conference until later in the evening. Then he told me that he was setting up a climbing structure (yes he is a rock climber but sadly there isn't much to climb here in Qatar) and would possibly have to help a friend of his after this conference. He set up to meet back in front of the museum at about 2030h but if he wasn't there I was to go to his apartment. Sounded good. He took off
and I went back into the Museum to finish checking things out. I met up with Reese again and we headed toward the nearby Souq (market) hoping to find some food. I was starving by this point. It was Thursday night and the start of the weekend in this part of the world. Reese also enjoyed photography so we went around taking some shots and then found a fast food place selling Shawarma. The plates were huge, and after we finished eating we were close to a food induced coma. We explored more of the Souq and then went along the Corniche where the Doha skyline was now illuminated. We hung out here for a while and then since we were still so close to the Museum, we doubled back and then I checked to see if Mikael was there. He wasn't so this meant that I would go back to his place. Reese was going to stick around this area for a bit longer and then head back to the airport to sleep before his early morning flight.
My walk along the Corniche was interesting and the temperature was warm but without the humidity I had become familiar
with back in the southern part of the subcontinent. My feet hurt. I did a lot of walking today already. It took some time but I reached the city center, with copious amounts of skyscrapers surrounding me. I had a hell of a time trying to find his building and no one I asked seemed to be sure. In the end I did get there and the concierge gave me the key that Mikael had left for me. I found my way up to the 30th floor, and went into his apartment, which was basically a room and bathroom. Despite this small space and his busy schedule, Mikael loved hosting travelers and exchanging travel tales. He arrived soon after and I told him about my trip. He had a fingerboard for rock climbing training so we did several sets, using different holds. It felt good to be doing some sort of climbing training again because I was really rusty after such a hiatus. We then had some tuna and fruits and talked some more. By now it was really late and with the jetlag (only two hours but still) from my flight, and all the walking I was pretty destroyed.
The next morning Mikael graciously drove me to the airport and we promised to stay in touch. Back at Hamad International airport, it was time for another short flight. It wouldn't be a long one and I still had more of the Arabian Peninsula to explore.
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