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.