Friday, November 21, 2008

A Desert Drive and Architecture in Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar is a huge city that continues to grow but is also immediately surrounded by the desert. We boarded 4 wheel drives and headed out of the city to drive through the dunes for a desert experience. It was exhilarating! Khalid, our driver, really wanted to let loose. He was in and out of the line of jeeps heading out together. We stopped right at the edge of the desert to let out a little air in our tires and then headed off up and over the dunes. At one point we went down the dune backward only to rev up and sprint back up. This area by the sea is a great weekend spot where families come and rent tents, bring their jeeps and jet skis, and camp out for a few days.

The Islamic Art Museum, a new, extraordinary museum is about to open in Doha. The building was designed by I.M. Pei and will be/is the largest museum of Islamic Art in the world. I wish it would have been open because just the structure alone demands attention. It’s built right on the water, across from Doha’s business district skyline (which is hugely impressive). One of the main contrasts with Manama, Bahrain is that while you can see ongoing construction in Doha, it’s largely already established. It seemed that many more dynamic buildings in Doha than in Manama have already been completed.

Tomorrow is our second day at sea on the way to Abu Dhabi, the emirate that is the U.A.E’s major producer of oil. All of the countries we’ve visited have experienced huge growth due to oil wealth but the U.A.E. will be quite extraordinary.

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