Friday, December 18, 2009

National Day

On the 18th of December, Qatar celebrates its National Day in commemoration of the historic day in 1878 when Shaikh Jasim, the founder of the State of Qatar, succeeded his father, Shaikh Muhammad Bin Thani, as a ruler and led the country toward unity. The event is considered as an opportunity for all Qatari nationals and expatriates to recognize and celebrate what it means to live in modern day Qatar. Qatar National Day activities are organized by the State National Day Celebrations Organizing Committee (SNDCOC), whose vision is to Strengthen Solidarity, Loyalty and Pride in National Identity.
Courtesy of Qatar National Day website

You know when the news portrays Arabs waving their flags & mobbed together, which frightens many Americans? My guess is that they probably shot the footage on their National Day. In other words, picture the 4th of July in the USA, but with a different flag and different clothing, and there you would have Qatar's National Day. I enjoyed seeing the patriotism throughout the city during the week leading up to National Day.

Flags lining the roads.

Pictures of the Royal family on cars (sometimes even on the windshields)

Cars with Qatari flag hearts all over them.

Tents being set up along the roads for festivities

A few things I regrettable do not have pictures of:
1) Guys selling flags in almost every roundabout you drive by. (You can see a couple in the background of other pictures)
2) Women with abayas embroidered FOR National Day (Qatar flag colors along the edges and the word Qatar)
3) People wearing long, thick Qatar scarves in 80 degree weather because they are Qatar national colors
4) A huge gathering of men waving swords and dancing around across the street when we came out of church on National Day. (This one I tried to get a shot on the drive by, but the shot delay missed the moment).

We saw some of the rehearsal or the parade the day before, but since National Day fell on Friday (the Sabbath), we didn't attend the parade this year. A friend went and took 2300 pictures. She said it was great, and her pictures are fantastic, so we have something to look forward to next year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


December 18th is Qatar National Day (more on that in a later post). As part of the week leading up to National Day, there were a variety of events throughout the city. We took an afternoon to go out to see a camel dressage event.

We drove out into the desert, though not very far out of the city. For those who lived in/visited Las Vegas in earlier years, you can see why Qatar reminds us of Las Vegas sometimes.

Modern technology isn't stopped by the vast expanses of sand.

When we arrived, we found that there were a few other things in the same location including a poetry reading event, which took place later that day, though we were not able to stay for it.There was also a photography exhibit, and we had a chance to see some of the local traditional crafts/pastimes being displayed & demonstrated: fishing, embroidery, henna application, traditional foods, weaving, etc.

Falconing is a local sport. There were a few falcons on display, and a baby in training demonstrated catching a stuffed rodent. We also had a chance to "hold" the falcons, but with their hoods on.

Leoni even got up close with a baby falcon.
We then headed out to the stands to watch the camel events. We didn't know that the stands would have a Middle Eastern spin to them. You sat cross legged on cushions.Leoni got to play around on the cushions while we waited.

Things were definitely on "Qatar" time, so although the event was suppsed to start at 2pm, at 3pm, things were still not rolling, but we could see some camels lined up out in the distance.

look for the small silhouettes just above the red & white barricades

Finally, the camels started coming out. Nothing was announced, though it probably would have been in Arabic anyway, but it was fun to finally see some camels closer & watch them trot along.
We did not stay for the whole event, just long enough to get a feel for things. There were only a few other observers there as well. On our way out, we had no idea we would get to see camels even closer.

Leoni had practiced earlier, sitting on a camel saddle on display...

...And she was able to try out the real thing.

Travis & Lindsay each got a turn to actually ride one as well.

Preparing for dismount

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I don't want to forget the little differences in everyday things here in Doha, like the garbage. In Las Vegas, you have garbage men & recycling men who you see jumping on and off of the back of the trucks. They hook up the standard large bin to the truck to dump, toss the other bags of trash, and empty smaller bins into the trucks. I know being a garbage man isn't glorious, but as a kid I always wanted to hang off the back of the truck like them. It seemed so fun.

In Provo, recycling is not as prevalent (I've never actually seen the trucks) and the garbage men are difficult to catch a glimpse of. You must place your garbage can sufficiently far away from the curb, which seems like the middle of the road. A mechanical arm reaches out and grabs the can and dumps it. If it isn't in that can, it doesn't seem to go into the truck.

Here in Doha, it may be a city, but it is a little more "small town." Recycling, yeah, not really happening, though they are supposedly starting up a program. This is the only evidence I've seen in the city of anything "green."

Photo courtesy of Sarah Martin's Facebook

Our trash cans are right outside our front door, so we take our trash out, but we never have to take that can out to the road. Someone comes and collects it daily, often twice daily. The collector doesn't have the mechanical arm to dump it, nor does he get to swing freely from the back of the truck.

He just gets to load up and push his overflowing wheelbarrow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Energy Efficiency

"Air will leak in through electrical outlets and switches, joints between two finish materials such as siding and brick, through the cracks around vents, pipes and wires that pass through your walls, around the edges of doors, and the biggest culprit of all are the joints in and around your windows. Windows that are not properly weatherized with weather stripping and seals, that have cracked glass, or cracked glazing putty can cost you hundreds of dollars a year. If all of these cracks and holes around you house are added up they can cause the same air infiltration as a 6" square hole in your wall."

Call me green. I do care about recycling & the use of our natural resources efficiently. I try not to be to crazed about it, but I have done self energy audits on my dwellings to find out how to save energy and money by not wasting. I try to turn off lights/electronics when not in use, shutting doors when going in and out of the house, and turning off running water during brushing teeth. I guess Qatar doesn't really have the same ideas of energy efficiency as the US. Here are only a few examples.

Under the front doors

Around A/C units & exhaust fans (they are stuck into holes cut in outside walls)

Around windows (Yes, that is about one inch along the bottom of the glass that is completely open with no seal. And, we wondered why it sounded like the window was open. We have two windows like this.)

I think our villa has the equivalent of a 3-foot diameter hole in the wall. Thankfully, the government heavily subsidizes the utilities for everyone. (Nationals don't pay any at all.) Still, I think we need to do some work on decreasing energy loss in our villa. Besides, it freaks me out when it is windy outside but blowing Leoni's toys across the floor.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Thanksgiving is an American holiday (the Canadians celebrate it also, just a month earlier), but we didn't have to miss out on it just because we are not in America. Since there is an abundance of American expats here in Doha, we were able to celebrate with others. This year, Thanksgiving fell at the beginning of the Eid holiday, so many people had work/school off and travelled away on vacation. Our ward (group of church members) organized a large Thanksgiving dinner for those that were in town and encouraged us to invite any friends who would like to celebrate (read: eat good food) with us. We ended up with well over 200. Although there was a TON of food, I felt like I got the perfect amount & enjoyed turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables & pie. Not everyone is American, but who can say no to great food, friends, and a time to be grateful. It was fun to be able to celebrate together.

I hate that Thanksgiving is often passed over or placed on the back burner while Christmas preparations take over. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, and it is a very important holiday for me, especially its meaning, but for me, preparation for Christmas include sufficiently remember the blessings I have and showing gratitude as I focus on them. So, I Christmas decor stays hidden away until after Thanksgiving, which is celebrated by its own decorative reminders.

We have so much to be grateful for this year. We welcomed a healthy baby to our family. Travis was able to graduate with his Masters Degree. He has a job that provides well for our family. We have the great blessing of technology that allows us to keep in touch with family even though we are thousands of miles away. We are all healthy, and we are blessed to have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives.

*Sorry I forgot to take my camera to our Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


We are in trouble. If the wall to wall tile floors weren't bad enough, the stairs are already a temptation. She has already been up to the landing (four steps up) twice. Let the bruising begin.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ghassan's, part II

We have some furniture. We have a few spots in our home where we decided we would like some furniture. We got a piece of cheap cabinetry for the printer stand that should work well enough. Some of our other pieces, however, we wanted to be a bit more durable than flimsy pressed "wood." After seeing some interesting pieces of furniture at friends' homes, we decided that we needed to check out Ghassan's. We figured it would be worth paying a little extra to get furniture pieces that are interesting and we like and that we plan on keeping for a long time, rather than paying extra for furniture that is ordinary and somewhat durable. We figured that if we planned on keeping something for a long time (aka, shipping something back to the US), we better like it a lot.

We found several pieces at Ghassan's that we really liked, but not being the type of people who make millions in their sleep, we had to narrow it down a little. We got a large cabinet/bookcase, a phone table/bench, a small stepped dresser, a small bookcase, and a clock.

The clock. My (Travis') grandparents had a simple but handsome farm clock that I always thought was so much fun. Well, one of my uncles inherited that, so I need to find one of my own. I had seen a few clocks with Arabic numbers and decided that I wanted such a clock. So, we got a nice clock with a pendulum and Arabic numbers. I may still want a farm clock one day, but this one is definitely fulfilling the desire for a good-looking clock.

The small bookcase. Ghassan called it a fruit basket. It's certainly not a basket, but I could see how someone might store fruit on it. However, we plan to put it in Leoni's room to hold some of her books, at an angle.

The small stepped dresser. Ghassan had two of these and we really liked both. The one that we did not get was bigger and angled the opposite direction. The one we got fits better in our home, and it has half as much glass, which we need to consider at this point. It is made of shisham (Dalbergia sissoo), or Indian Rosewood. The workmanship is very precise and beautiful.

The phone table/bench. We really liked this, but weren't sure of its practicality in our home. After discussing the need for something in the corner to contain our telecommunication devices, we realized that the cabinet (next to be discussed) wasn't the answer we were hoping for, but combining the cabinet with the bench would work really well. The bench is also made of shisham.

The large cabinet/bookcase. The main reason we went to Ghassan's was to pick out a piece made with repurposed, antique wood. Most of the cabinet pieces were big with only a few shelves, working well as a linen closet, which we don't really need right now. This one provides out-of-sight storage (behind the well-preserved, repurposed, antique doors) along with a practical display (toward the top, out of baby-reach) and some drawers. The dark wood is similarly aged wood restored from some other pieces to create this one piece.

All of these pieces are beautiful, well made, durable, and heavy. It'll be a chore to bring them back with us when our time overseas is over, but it'll definitely be worth it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Standing or Something...

Leoni after a successful attempt to pull herself from sitting to standing

...or just for herself. Since she was about 2 1/2 months, Leoni has wanted to stand more than sit. Stubborn streak-don't know where that came from. She would make her body rigid when we would try to pull her into a sitting position, so she instead would be pulled to standing. We had a hard time getting her to bend at the waist or knees after that. Now that she is sitting alone and mobile (army crawl, which is hard to catch since when the camera comes out she just stops to pose), she is loving climbing up anything and everything that will help get her into a "standing" position. I think that means trouble.

Her favorite position on the couches, which unfortunately also involves tiptoes and trying to reach over the edge

Caught in the act of climbing up dad's bag to get to the garbage can

Right before getting frustrated because the arches of the playmat wouldn't support her wait while trying to move from kneeling to standing

Thursday, November 12, 2009


So the utilities in the Middle East are done a little differently than in the U.S. The only natural gas in our house is the stove/oven (which is actually a gas/electric combo). I was excited to finally have a gas stove/oven again after years in college housing with only electric. Well, last night, the gas ran out in the middle of cooking dinner. Slightly inconvenient. Luckily, it wasn't anything too fancy, and we were able to finish cooking our chicken burgers in the toaster oven. You may ask, "How did the gas run out?" Well, because nothing else runs on gas, this is where the gas comes from.

Yes, that is on the other side of the kitchen wall. Travis moved the "protective" cardboard boxes for the picture. I guess to shield it from getting overheated?!? Travis has to take the tank to the "gas truck" and get a new canister today. Of course, being Qatar, which has one of the world's largest natural gas fields, it only cost 15 QR (about $4) for a refill, and this is the first time we have refilled it since arriving 2 1/2 months ago. Not bad. I think we'll be purchasing a spare canister, however, in case we ever run out again while cooking.

We have a breakthrough

Lower left central incisor to be exact
It appeared on Monday, November 9th.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Because we only sent out a small handful of announcements, I figured we would post it here also, but we were waiting on our scanner to arrive. So, she is 6+ months now. No big deal, right? (sorry the quality isn't too great)