The next morning after we woke up and had our delicious breakfast, and then we quickly noticed that there was a terrible sandstorm. We could barley see out the window and realized that our plans to hit the beach, the outdoor cultural area, and the outdoor Pearl where not going to happen. So we decided to go to the City Center Mall in Doha and wait it out. The wind really was a problem. As soon as we stepped outside bags, small pieces of wood, and other construction debris was flying around. Winds got up to 25 miles per hour and you could barely open your eyes and mouth without getting sand whipped in your face.
The other snag with this day is that it was Friday morning. Friday is the holy day in Islam when families spend time together and go to mosque. This means that most stores are closed until the afternoon. It’s kind of like Sunday mornings in some parts of the states when shops are closed while people go to church and have an afternoon lunch with their family. In Al Ain I don’t mind things being closed and I really respect that so many places hold strongly to their faith. So we took the morning slow and waited to go to the mall until 12:00 but even then the mall was still mostly closed. Some stores were open and there were quite a handful of people walking around but the mall felt like a ghost town. It was kind of eerie walking around a closed mall.
While waiting to decide what to do next we watched a man walk out of the mall with a shopping cart and the wind took the shopping cart and threw it into the street! The only other thing we could think to do was go to the Arab Museum of Modern Art called Mathaf. So we braved the wind, found a taxi and tried to find the museum. To make a long story short, after 40 minutes of searching in a sandstorm with limited visibilities in the Education City (which is basically a really large construction site where everything is closed off and anything not tied down was blowing into the road) we gave up on the search for the museum and had to taxi driver take us back to our hotel. Qatar is the same in the UAE in that there is no such thing as an address. So you just have to arrive in the area and drive around until you find what you’re looking for. Anyways, after arriving back at the hotel we decided to just relax – after all our hotel was wonderful. Scott checked out the rooftop pool which was a mess – reclining chairs blowing into the wall, large ripples on the water. We ended up just relaxing, working out at the hotel gym, and I did my nails! I mention my nails here because it really is a big event – the second time in a year I’ve done my nails! I have a color that is the same as the color on the Qatari flag so I thought it was appropriate.
By the time evening came the wind had died down a little and we thought we’d check out the Pearl while we had the chance. The Pearl is like the Palm in Dubai. Its a man-made island (in Dubai designed to look like a palm and in Qatar a pearl). They are still developing the Pearl and there are a couple “Pearls.” The design is a kind of ring (to look like an oyster) with a circle in the middle (to look like the pearl). They have apartments, restaurants, and shops all along the ring. The wind had clearly deterred people so while we were walking along the Pearl that night it was pretty quiet.
Things were really expensive on the Pearl so we headed over to the Sheraton Hotel where they have an Irish Pub to have dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening. The next day while waiting to board our plane we noticed this article in the newspaper:
Apparently it was so windy that the tops of some palm trees on the corniche were blown right off their trunks!! Regardless of the sandstorm we had a very relaxing and enjoyable time in Doha. If you’re in the area it’s worth a weekend visit!