Saturday, January 13, 2007

Doha, Capital of Qatar

I've had a break from blogging, but now I'm back.
Way back in 1975, I left my job of 15 years to travel the world.
My sister, Denise was and still lives in New York.
Another friend was living in Doha, the capital of a small country called
Qatar. Qatar is situated above Saudi Arabia and is in the Arabian Gulf.

This map is actually a photo I took of a tea towel while in Doha.

Both had been asking when was I coming over for a visit, never really
expecting this to happen. Then in 1975 the company I was working for
went through a major change. I decided not to move with the change and
instead took my redundancy and planned my trip overseas.
I flew up to Hong Kong for a week, then south to Manilla where I changed
planes to Doha. I was eventually ending up in the USA where I was going
to stay for 4 months, so I decided to blend in with the youth of American
by growing my hair and beard.

.................My appearance as I arrived in Doha.

The plane arrived into Doha at 10.00pm and Rosemary, Nigel and their
two small boys were at the airport to meet me. I had not informed them
of my change in appearance. Last time they had seen me I was clean shaven
except for a moustache and short hair. Getting off the plane I walked across
the tarmac and saw them up on the visitor's lookout. They didn't recognize
me. Once through customs (and that was fun) I finally went up to the Osborn
family and boy were they surprised to see how I looked, claiming no wonder
why they hadn't seen me get off the plane.
I had met Rosemary many years earlier when we were both doing a radio and
T.V. course. I had been thinking of getting into radio as a announcer (D.J.) and
Rosemary into T.V. This didn't happen but we continued seeing each other and
our friendship has continued to this day. Rosemary was a school teacher. She
decided to move down to Sydney to continue her school career.
While in Sydney she met Nigel and they eventually were married. Nigel was a
helicopter pilot. One of his jobs was flying crew from the mainland to oil rigs
off the Australian coast. Nigel was always looking out for chopper jobs in
various parts of the world. He heard of this job flying crew from Doha onto
oil rigs in the Arabian Sea, so after consulation with Rosemary they decided to
head for Doha.
Now back to 1975.

.........One of the main streets in Doha.

The population of Doha is now 400,050, and is the Capital of Qatar, and is the
largest city, with over 80% of the population residing in Doha or its suburbs,
and is the economic centre of the country. In 1850, the city of Doha was
founded under the name Al-Bida. The city was made capital of the British
Protectorate of Qatar in 1916, and the nation gained independence in 1971.
In 1949, oil exportation began in Qatar. Today the nation as a whole
produces over 800 000 barrels of oil daily. Doha is situated in the Arabian
Peninsula, and as such its climate is very hot. Temperatures average over
40 degrees Celsius (104°F) from May to September, and humidity is very high.

..................The main road leading out of Doha to Kohr.

Funny story I heard while in Doha. There were a lot of traffic accidents at
cross roads. Especially by shieks driving their cadillacs and neither wanting to
give way to each other. After the crash the shieks would abandon the cars and
go and buy a new cadillac. Finally the local council decided to put in roundabouts.
This sort of stopped the accidents except the shieks weren't going to go around
and instead still drove straight ahead over the roundabout, thus leaving lovely
tyre marks in the dirt when they went through the roundabout.

......................One of only a couple of fruit shops in Doha.

There wasn't a lot to do in Doha. Temperatures were alway very high and most
homes were air conditioned. One day Nigel decided to take us up to a small
village called Kohr, which was on the coast and was known as a holiday
destination. Hum, this had maybe a dozen homes, a shop, a mosque and a
garage. When we arrived we were surrounded by a large number of children
who were quite excited to see these visitors. In Doha down at the waterfront
were a large collection of dhows. There were wooden boats that were used for
fishing, and quite a number of familys lived and slept on these strange vessels.

A view of some of the dhows in Doha Harbour.

Nigel was working for Gulf Air and Shell Oil had their own club where
employees could use the swimming pool and endulge in the odd drink or
two. Alcohol was forbidden in Qatar but as the club was owned by Shell
they were allowed to have alcohol on the premises. One day Nigel asked
if I would like to go with him in the chopper when he was going to take
some of the crew out to one of the islands in the gulf where oil was stored.

Preparing the chopper for the fight...and Nigel in the pilot's seat.

Would I say No. Of cause not. I love flying in helicopters. One of my
better flights I had was when I was in New York and flew down the
Hudson River to The Statue of Liberty round this famous lady then
up past the Twin Towers to Central Park and finally back to the
landing where I had began my flight.

..............Our helicopter pilot, Nigel flying out into the Gulf.

We flew out into the gulf under foggy conditions, but as we flew further
from the coast the fog burned away and we finally made land fall where
the replacement crew left the chopper and we took the crew back home
who had been stationed there during their week's tour of duty.

The oil storage tanks..........and on the island waiting for the return crew.

I spent ten days in Doha and had a enjoyable time visiting my friends.
From Doha I flew up to Rome. I had to change planes at Baghdad and
another funny story. I had a two hour wait and could only stay in the
terminal. There were guards walking around with uzis, although there
was no warfare in activity at this time. As one would know, airport P.A.
systems are not know to be easily understood. Eventually I noticed
a air hostess walking along and speaking in turn to each person. She
finally reached me and asked me my name. When I told her she said
"we've been calling out your name, your plane is ready to depart.....come
with me". We ran down to where there was a large crowd of people lined
up to board a plane. She hurried me to the front of the line where she
explained that the plane was waiting for me on the tarmac ready for take
off. She then pointed out a small bus at the bottom of the ramp and told me
to go and get in it. The bus drove me out to the tarmac where the rear stairs
were lowered so that I could get on the plane. Once I was on board the plane
took off. I was amazed that all this occurred so that I could get on this
plane, one would of thought that the plane would of taken off on time and
thus I would of missed my flight. I would doubt that anything like this
would happen today.

..................Me and a friend at the Doha waterfront.

As it's been over thirty years (where have the years gone) since I was in
Doha, prior to posting this I went on the net and found a few current
photos of Doha. My has it changed, but then again what place would not
have change in thirty years.

..............................Three views of modern Doha.

Before I left I was told not to take photos of "Arabs" as this was forbidden,
so I was a little hesitant to just randomly take a photo. It was when I was
in one of the fruit shops and I was taking some movie and then still film of
the people working in the shop that I noticed they did not appear to be
upset that I was taking their photos. I asked them and they said that they
did not mind that I was taking photos and did not know why I had been told
that it was forbidden to take their photos.

One of the men in the fruit market who didn't mind that I took his photo.

For those who maybe interested all these photos taken were slides.
I projected these slides onto a screen then took a digital photo and
downloaded them onto my computer where I then used a programme
called photocleaner which enhanced, resized the image and adjusted the colour.


Lee said...

That was a very good read, Wazza...thanks for sharing your story with us.

Helicopters are great! They're a huge thrill, I reckon.

I know in Morocco you're not supposed to take photos of the locals...or it was that way a few years everything, perhaps it's changed now.

Pretty clever of you with getting your slides to computer...I wouldn't know where to begin. I'd end up having to stick the slides to my monitor and hope for the best! ;)

Raggedy said...

Welcome Back!
Great Post!
Have a wonderful day!
(=':'=) hugs
(")_ (")Š from
the Cool Raggedy one

Peter said...

So you posted this at 6.16pm what were you doing still at the computer at 2.30am? I finally quit at 3.00am but I didn't surface till 11.30am.
Am about to have "Sunday Brunch" bacon and rubberized eggs, yeah I decided to scramble them, you know me and scrambled eggs.

Merle said...

Hi Warren ~~ A good post. And we have learnt a little about Doha and also more about you. Your photo when you arrived in Doha is a different you!!!
I am glad that you had these trips,
(gives you something to blog about!!)
Thanks for your comments. I used to type my posts in Word and then copy and paste to Blogger and I liked that better, but cannot do it now. So have to type directly in to Blogger, and that is going Ok. Take care Warren, Love, Merle.

Jim said...

I wondered where you'd been? Some over there have been having a virous, maybe you won't get it being gone.
My favorite and first helicopter ride was out to a glacier near Juno, Alaska. Mrs. Jim and I and three other tourists and a guide were dropped off.
After touring part of the glacier for most of the morning the chopper came back for us. That was a good ride too, my last one so far.

Margaret said...

Hi Warren, very interesting read. I enjoy learning about new (to me) places. thanks for visit. I hope you are well again now. I am still very tired and have "that" cough. Cheers Margaret

Zaac said...

ive been to doha!! stopped there for a couple of hours on my way through to england, first armed airport guards ive encountered. have you seen CHILDREN OF MEN greenie? saw it last nite and thought it was quality!!

Hale McKay said...

Glad to see you're back, Wazza. That was a lot of information on Doha to absorb. Well written and the photos were great.

Ian said...

This is actually a map of Qatar I took while I was wrapped in a tea towel.

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