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What Qatar was like in 2006

Why I was there

In 2006, after having just finished secondary school, I moved to Qatar. With my parents, obviously. How many 16 year olds can afford to piss off to another country just like that? My dad found an oil and gas job that was worth the move, so that's what happened.

Initially, I was upset about leaving my life in Sunny Middlesbrough, but as I landed and felt how hot it was, I rapidly got over it. I could tell from the moment we stepped off the plane at 5am with the sun just on its way over the horizon that I was in for an adventure.

I went through my first year of sixth form there.



Here's a picture that I took of our "Common Room", a doubled-up, air conditioned portacabin at Doha College. I took that photo,

Surroundings

Although I haven't been in years, I imagine they're still building and building and building. Malls, Stadia, huge office towers and banks, even "old-style" marketplaces (known as souqs).

Back then, the city was a building site, and the workers were the "bluecoats" - Indian and Filipino construction workers, who reportedly got paid barely anything.





There were a few weird surrounding the workers, one went around that a gang of Filipino "Triads" ate an Indian guy, although I refused to believe that one.

Another rumour was that the locals wanted to have sex sith young men, leading me to sprint away from Land Cruisers full of locals that pulled up near me a couple of times.

I'm half sure that people started random rumours like that just to see if they would hear them from  other people spreading them enough. 

Living

Most westerners lived on a compound. These were gated communities with security at the front and facilities such as pools, clubhouses with gyms and saunas, tennis courts, you get the picture. Luxury living.

We lived on a compound called Barzan2. Here’s a few different angles of the downstairs of the one we lived in.


The door to the roof of the villa didn't lock. None of them did, and they were set out in a semi-detached fashion. The villa next door was empty, so me and a few friends climbed over the wall separating the two roofs, piled in and had a party. The nerves when the local maintenance men drove past were ridiculous.

It had a few security guards who I don't think this bothered - one Filipino guy called Adrian, who was there for the better pay as a security guard than he would have got for being an IT manager in the Philippines.



There were no pictures of him in his security uniform with his badass Maglite, so I stole this one off his Facebook profile pictures album. That picture was taken at the Corniche, with the Asian Games 2006 Mascot there in the background. it's an oryx, basically a desert deer. 

He's since moved back and is doing well in IT back in the Philippines, and another guy (whose name I forget) from Nepal. They were cool guys, they didn't really have much to do as it was pretty safe in Qatar at the time, so Adrian taught me table tennis in the central clubhouse,


Inland Sea

The land mass of Qatar is shaped in such a way that there's an "inland sea" which borders Saudi Arabia at the other side. To get there, you need to drive to Messaeeid, then let air out of your tyres and drive through the desert for the rest of the journey.


On the way, you’ll see locals enjoying a very common local pastime - Dune Bashing, Every off-roader’s dream.



We were actually there when this happened:




This is a picture of the commotion that followed the accident.


Nice machine. if you couldn't tell from the other pictures, the locals are seriously wealthy,


This is the first car I ever drove. That's not me driving, but I did have a go on some flat sand earlier on.


The locals were cool and quite welcoming. This Nissan Patrol had no seatbelts or anything that would add weight on the inside. We had to hold on to the roof handles while the guys put the foot down, flying up the singing sand dunes.


One of the locals wanted to show off, especially with dad's mate having a fancy camera. He took a lot of great shots that day.


The Inland Sea is a great way to spend a weekend, but watch out for jellyfish! I got stung whilst using my toes to pick clams out of the ground for our barbeque.


The sting was agony to start with, then (after first trying vinegar, which sort of worked, to piss, which worked perfectly!) subsided and left my mouth feeling tingly-dry inside, which I liked in a weird way. 

DISCLAIMER: DO NOT GET STUNG BY A JELLYFISH TO FIND OUT WHAT THAT FEELING IS LIKE.


Juice Stalls

There were little cafes all around Doha called "juice stalls". Below is a picture of my favourite ever juice stall, which I'm told is no longer there, which is a shame, and part of the reason I've never been back. 

I searched my hard drives for this picture, and couldn't find it anywhere. Then I googled "Doha Tower Juice Stall" and there it is, a picture of me posing outside, literally the first image Google offers for that search term!

They made basic snacks, the best shawarmas in the world, and chicken sandwiches which were addictive, the best blended fruit juice you'd ever tried. My personal favourite was the honeydew melon. My mouth watered as I wrote that. One time, we witnessed a local mount the kerb, drive alongside the door, push the door open and make his order. 

Here are some typical menus you'd see above the counter of your average juice stall:




Delicious!


Weekends

There's something about the taboo of drinking in a country where it's borderline illegal that makes it so much more fun,

When I say borderline illegal, well, there were hotels where you could go to drink, or, the alternative was to buy booze in from the off-duty place. People were limited to how much booze they could buy each month, so for us 16 year olds, the parents stocked up, and a few certain people had house parties quite a lot.

Not all that many house parties would happen on the same night, so everyone who was up for it went, meaning there were pretty huge parties in little compounds all of the time.


The police would arrest and deport anyone who was caught drinking underage, so there was a big community effort to make sure that no one got into that type of trouble..

If no one was having a party, the odd occasion would draw a crowd to the Rugby Club, and if nothing was going on there, we'd have to figure something out, and generally just go and play pool somewhere.

Get in touch!

I'd be interested to hear from people living there about what it's actually like these days, so that I can add a "here and now".

Email me at tucker.1989@yahoo.com with stuff for me to add it, I'll happily update this article.

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