From the Qatari chronicles

Doha on a Weekday

A 4 minutes read
dated 21st September 2014

I have been in Doha for only a few days, though—as I don’t see how my daily routine could drastically change at this point—I seem to have figured out how my weekdays here will look like. As you would care. Before all that, I have to admit that it came to me with a shock that in Arab States of the Arabian Gulf, including Qatar, working week spreads across Sunday through Thursday, as you may read in Wikipedia. So there. Now we all know.

But back to the sauce. I wake up around 8.00am AST (which is only one hour ahead all the fancy clocks of Switzerland) to the view on some other skyscrapers in the West Bay area.

After a quick shower I scout for any remaining clean t-shirts in the wardrobe and jump into a pair of pants that keep my knees covered. Because anything shorter might attract disapproving looks. Having known that upfront, I didn’t even pack any shorts—as @gridinoc commanded—but upon arrival I also realised I’m perfectly fine without: the heat is bearable (if not for the humidity right after sunset) and with most places being overly airconed, including taxis, it’s pretty much freezing wherever you go. To the extent that I scored a cold already on the 3rd day.

Skipping hotel breakfast, given how pricy it is, together with @maboa, @konstantinosant and @gridinoc we board our private taxi as early as 8:30am. The taxi is our expense but petrol is literally cheaper than water here and so splitting the bill in 4 might actually add up just right—we’ll see. From the hotel to the first AJ security gate it’s a 10 minute drive. Sometimes they even fatigue themselves to check the trunk depending on the guard. We get off in front of another security check, pass it showing our permits again and from there it’s just a minute stroll to our building where we stop at the ground floor canteen for a buffet breakfast.

On the way to our office space we pass by the newsroom which leaves me with awe every single time. Now have a look.

Once done setting up my Mac, I’m off to start a 8-hour-long work day in a fantastic group of 11 lovely, lovely folk. We have our own dedicated dungeon and—being altogether in the same room—we’re all pretty much involved in every interaction, wether it’s project-related discussion, random blabber or just @gridinoc geeking out. Which is grand, leaves our Slack chat history pretty much clean and calls for more eye contact. The atmosphere is relaxed to the point that me wearing a horse head sparks no debate.

Lunch is served at the canteen as well so there’s no reason to leave the building. Thank god. They serve different food each day, not necessarily local, though they do have some middle-eastern dishes too. All pork free, obviously. Buffet style. I was told not to ever take seafod, and so I’m still contemplating wether to try it out or not just to see what all the fuss is about. Yeah right.

Lunch break is a great time to mingle with folk from other departments. Just find a free seat and start chatting. Everybody is super friendly here. In the end, we’re all on the same boat: all expats, all speaking English, all going through the same stuff, staying in the same hotel, complaining about the indoor and outdoor temperatures and ridiculously expensive drinks in night-life enclaves with the same verve. Once done with lunch, there’s just a few more hours to go and right after it gets dark (which, to my surprise, is quite early) we get on our taxi again.

Evenings were pretty much relaxed most days so far but I expect them to vary. It feels like there are quite a few options. Katara Cultural Village has interesting art evening courses happening over the upcoming weeks. I have attended one of their illumination workshops last weekend which was much fun and proved me once again I’m miserably inept.

Downtown market Souq Waqif is a good place for a stroll, meal or waterpipe. Corniche is a good alternative to hotel’s gym for an evening jog though I haven’t got around that yet. And there is always the possibility to hit the pool or spa on the top floor of my hotel, which proved to be the most popular comfortable option till now. As I’ll have more time to explore more possibilities in the days to come, I may enclosed them in a separate letter. Till then?

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