I moved to Qatar. I do understand that for most people it is a very random place to move to & honestly, sometimes I think the same. The two most common reactions from people are “Where is ‘Guitar’?” and “Oh, I have a friend who also lives in Dubai, he/she can show you around.”
Let me just quickly clarify those two misconceptions.
Qatar, the pronunciation. The explanation is very lengthy & to my understanding, the English language does not contain the consonants used in the name – I do stand to be corrected though. However, if you say something similar to ‘cutter’ & not ‘qwa-taar’, it will be fine.
Next, the location. Qatar is on the Arabian Peninsula & the only land border is Saudi Arabia to the south. It is an independent country & although it is in the same region, it is not a part of the United Arab Emirates. This means Doha, Qatar & Dubai, UAE are two different cities in two different countries.
Okay, now that I’ve cleared that up, I can tell you what happened to me on my first day here. You didn’t think that I would get by without something bizarre or embarrassing happening to me, did you?
I arrived during the early hours of a Friday morning. This was a little while ago so summer was still lingering. I passed through immigration & eventually made my way out of the airport air-conditioning & into the lovely Doha weather. It felt like I had walked into an oven & for a few seconds I considered if it was physically possible for a human to melt.
I made it to my flat & started unpacking in the comfort of aircon. I quickly forgot about the heat & focused on what I needed, but didn’t have. I found there was a supermarket within walking distance so I was really pleased & I decided to walk there.
What could possibly be wrong with going to the supermarket at around noon on a Friday in a Muslim country?
Everything is closed. I mean everything is closed & I found this out the hard way. I left my flat & started the 10/15 minute walk. I think that day was around 47/48°C (116-118°F). Needless to say, I was exhausted & drenched in sweat by the time I made it to the supermarket. The supermarket premises was closed for prayer. I couldn’t buy water, find aircon or proper shade because of the time of day. I thought waiting was better than going back because I wouldn’t be exerting energy.
This was a really bad idea. I started feeling cold, dizzy & it was getting very difficult to breathe. Fortunately, the supermarket was soon opened so I could buy some water & recover in the cool air. It didn’t take long for me to realize everyone passing me stared. I looked like a drowned rat with skin as red as a lobster.
I giggle about this now, but don’t do what I did. Always take water with you, don’t walk around during summer & plan for everything to be closed for a few hours on Fridays.
Keep traveling, keep safe.