There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cliff notes from Qatar

Steve has been in Qatar for 5 days. He is finally sleeping at night...which is daytime here.

Some tidbits he has shared: On the plane, you know how they will show a screen with the course of the trip? Qatar Airlines show that plus a map of where Mecca is located.

The ceiling above his hotel room bed has an arrow showing where Mecca is.

One of the women in the hospital...and only one...wears a Burkah. So far she has worn black. Steve said she has a gold nose plate on her face piece...he doesn't have a clue what it means but it makes her look like a gladiator.

All of the other women wear black as well and they are totally covered but their faces are exposed. These women wear a ton of makeup. Of course, I am not sure what a ton of make up means to Steve.....but if he noticed it there must be a lot of it on their faces.

The men wear the traditional dress you see on TV......white long robes plus the head pieces all the time. There are no Qatari men in any kind of western wear.

Steve put his hand out to shake one of the female administrator's hand and she told him she did not shake men's hands. She does shake women's hands.

They have staffing problems on the night shift because they can't have one female and one male alone anywhere in the hospital. Many of the nurses in the hospitals are from the Philippines, Japan and China and they can mingle any way they want to. They stay for a year and then immigrate to Canada and the U.S. The few nationals that are working nurses all work the day shift and that shift ends at 1PM....they start at 8AM.

A lot of the hotel staff are from other countries.

Steve is loving the local food served in the hotel. He is a food risk taker and will try anything once. He seems to have taken a real liking to Fava Beans and some concoction they make with tomatoes, onions and other veggies.

The PR man at the hospital took Steve and his co-worker on a tour of Doha. They went to a "suk" which is a market of some sort. The man that took them is obviously a big mucky muck which means he is part of the Royal Family. He paid for nothing; just took what he wanted and everyone smiled at him as he left. He took Steve and Janelle on a "food tasting tour" and then on to meet a man that would be the equivalent of a sage or priest or holy man. The holy man showed them pictures of his ability to walk on glass, lay on a bed of nails and just lots of pix from his former healing days. Steve said he had the darkest sun "torched" skin he had ever seen and was beyond wrinkled.

Qatari nationals do not pay for gas or electric for cooking or heating (I can't imagine needing heat). They don't pay for water and gasoline is $.10 a gallon.....that's right ten cents. Health care is free, medicines are free if you are a national. If you are not you pay and it is quite expensive. There is no national health insurance. Steve did talk to one woman from Australia who is in an administrative position at one of the hospitals and she told him that if you are not a national but work for the hospital you are covered automatically. All of the hospitals, physician offices and medical complexes are owned by the State.

It is the cool time of year over there. That means it is in the high 80's and low 90's. Steve is staying close to the hotel for the most part. He took a little walk around but there is not much to see. The airport and hotel complexes are south of Doha and there is a ton of constructions going on.

Chicago, Doha, Qatar and Dubai are all in the competition to host the 2016 summer Olympics and Doha (per the PR guy) is fierce about the bidding. The country is trying to compete with Dubai for tourist attractions, hotels, huge estate living and having wealthy Europeans invest in the country.

Steve blatantly asked why there are "Come visit Qatar" ads everywhere (they were in the airport, and are all over the hotel and in Doha) and I was denied a tourist visa. I am from the wrong country, am an unknown and not coming for business. They are trying to attract tourists and investors from everywhere but the U.S. They don't like our foreign policy...DUH!!!! Steve said there is an American military presence there but the military and the Qataris want the U.S. to keep a really low profile....and after we accidentally shot off a missile good thing to do.

That's it for now. Steve got a camera and has taken some pictures and we will get them developed as soon as he gets home and I will share. I'm glad he is feeling a bit better and has gotten out a bit. He sounded horrible yesterday but a lot better this morning. He slept all night finally. Cowbell if you can shed any light on all of this, please share in the comments and I will add to the post and highlight it in red.


Anonymous said...

It's just so fascinating! Keep us informed with these updates, because it really is very interesting.

rosemary said...

OK Ms. A. Hat, I will....miss formal language!

madretz said...

It really is fascinating! Every bit, from the arrows pointing towards mecca to the hand shakes.

jan said...

Quite an educational blog you have, Rosemary.

IMHO, for any country not to welcome American tourists is stupid even if they think they are upholding some sort of principle. If they want the Olympics, they should quickly change policies.

kenju said...

ten cents a gallon???!!!

Can Steve ship some home?

Paul said...

Our son was in that country for awhile during the first Gulf War. He loved every minute wasn't working.

Joan said...

Wow...I feel like I've learned all there is to know about the nation of Qatar! Thanks for the fascinating information...I've even learned how to correctly pronounce the name thanks to you and Steve!

Oh...and I've left you a little "treat" on my blog.

Lorraine said...

That is all super interesting, Ro. I get the shaking hands thing; my Orthodox Jewish neighbors are like that...I've learned when meeting someone to not extend my hand to the man, only to the woman.

more cowbell said...

I answered your email instead - I'd like to get in on those gas prices, eh?

Violet said...

wow - what an insight... this reminds me of how many people (including myself) think that we are so worldly and knowledgeable, but when you put that in the context of our own tiny little world we realize that we don't have a clue.

PinkAcorn said...

Ah, the good old fava bean. The Arabs brought them over to Sicily way back in the 800's AD. My Dad loves them raw...yuck.

Sandy said...

What an exotic trip. I love that he is a food risk taker - I don't know much about mideast cuisine but would like to learn. Went to an Ethiopian restaurant in L.A. where you eat with your hands - all vegetarian and delicious.