The story went like this.
I signed up for a trip to Iran but we had to wait at the airport in Doha for around 7 hours for our connecting flight to Tehran, the capital city of Iran, so I suggested the organiser to arrange a tour around Doha. It’d be too boring to stay at the airport for so many hours.
Here we were. Welcome to Qatar!
2006 was the year when Qatar was preparing for the 15th Asian Games.
Our first stop of this 3-hour city tour in Doha was a camel market.
As the name suggested, all the camels arrived in this market were for trading.
Many facilities for the Asian Games were still being constructed at the time we went there. But the tour guide assured us everything would be ready when the Games commenced. Obviously, it was.
According to the local tour guide, each Qatari was given a piece of land to build their own homes. The cost of the building was paid by the government. The citizens didn’t even need to pay for utilities like water and electricity. If they wanted to study abroad, the government would pay for everything. Of course, for non-Qatari in Qatar, they couldn’t enjoy these benefits. It was also very hard to get the citizenship even if you had been working in Qatar for say 20 years. However, if you married a Qatari, your kids could enjoy these benefits.
Qatar had a lot of natural gas resources and oil. That’s why it’s a rich country. In 2006, USD1 could buy you either 3 bottles of water (500 ml per bottle if I remember correctly) or 5 litres of petrol. So, you can imagine how expensive water was and how much non-Qataris had to pay for water.
Before gas and petrol were discovered in Qatar, pearling was a major industry in the country, according to the guide.
It was very hot in Qatar. It could reach 40+ degrees Celsius. This kind of hot weather affected the working hours of the people there. They worked from 8am to 12noon and then started from 4pm again to 8pm. That was how they kept their productivity while avoiding the heat. Our tour started at 6am which was the rush hour so we experienced their traffic jam.
Our bus slowly moved in the congested roads and headed back to the airport where we boarded the plane to Tehran.
31 August 2006
P.S. I believe the prices of water are now even higher. It has become more and more scarce. Unless we do something about it such as recycling the water, desalinating sea water, and most importantly using water wisely, we will not have clean water for ourselves and our next generations. Water is our source of life. After I volunteered in Cambodia, I found it even more precious than ever.