Well, this should give you all a laugh, I thought to myself as I dreamt this blog post up in the car (NB I was actively driving at the time; as opposed to idly staring out of the window in stubbornly unmoving traffic. Yes, that’s right, we have left Doha. And moved to Abu Dhabi, where the traffic actually….flows…. which, to be perfectly frank, is why I am not on Twitter so much any more).
Moaning about Doha is something of an expat hobby (the champions being, of course, Brits – oh how we love a good moan). As soon as you tell anyone in Doha that you are moving to Abu Dhabi, you get told how much you will simply LOVE it: “It’s sort of in between Dubai and Doha, you know, more relaxed than Doha, but without all the ‘jazz’ of Dubai…I used to live there/my friend Sally/Bill/Ed/Sheila used to live there five years ago – you will LOVE it”.
But hey, guess what Doha peeps? There are a few good things about Doha which I am already missing, even though we only left a month ago. Please, pick yourself up off the floor and allow me to list them:
- Al Rawnaq
The crazy death-trap of a place situated in an underground cavern, with an entrance hole somewhere near Al Ahli (and, rumour has it, extending underground as far as Al Wakra). You post on Where, When, How Doha that you need something so obscure that you are certain that nowhere in Doha will possibly sell it….and you will get 15 people all telling you (correctly) that it can be found in Al Rawnaq. No doubt the place will probably go up in cheap-Chinese-lead-filled-paint-fuelled raging inferno one day (and swallow the entire district of Bin Omran with it), but until then, fill yer boots.
2. AquaArt on Salwa Road.
OK, this is a bit specialist. I am an aquarist and this is an AWESOME aquarium shop. They have good knowledge, good products and such an amazing selection of fish that I could actually kill an entire summer’s afternoon in there entertaining my toddler twins FOR FREE. Beat that, Abu Dhabi.
3. Decent compounds.
Who knew? Doha’s nicer compounds, such as the Al Fardans, Al Messilahs and Al Jazis, absolutely blow anything over here out of the water. And there’s also nothing like the Pearl here. I know the Pearl has its haters, but we absolutely adored living there. With hindsight, the architecture was actually pretty cool and the balconies on the apartments were often amazing, and the cafe culture and shopping just kept getting better and better.
4. Freedom of speech.
I’m being very careful how I word this blog post. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?
5. Souq Waqif, the new Souq at Al Wakra, and the MIA.
I know, too obvious. But they were special. I miss them.
6. Hamad International Airport.
Well, Doha, you waited long enough. And now you have it… a lovely big, shiny airport (and a teddy bear. Let’s not forget the teddy bear). It’s stylish, it’s practically-designed (apart from when it rains) and it’s comfortable. And let me just say this: They don’t do that stupid thing any more when they x-ray your bag BEFORE check in. Remember that particular joy in the old airport? Hmmm? Well it’s not disappeared from the Middle East altogether. Grrr.
*Ambos for the Aussies among you.
I’ve done my fair share of moaning about the ambulance service in Doha in the past, but at least you used to see them. They seem to be a rarer sight here (perhaps because of the much smaller-scale nature of public healthcare – it’s not like the Hamad system). Someone on our compound called an ambulance for a child and was told to take them by car as it would be quicker, and Facebook replies suggested that wasn’t exactly unusual. Doha is now dotted with ambulance outstation posts, which is fantastic and should be lauded.
8. Old Navy.
OK, so I am scraping the barrel now. I never even liked anything in there anyway. And we have Pottery Barn over here, which absolutely whoops anything Doha has in the way of homewares into oblivion, so that cancels out the Old Navy thing anyway. Abu Dhabi 1, Doha 0.
9. Traffic policemen on roundabouts and intersections.
HAHAHAHAHA NO NOT REALLY. You can keep those Doha. Please. Oh and you know what else you can keep? Motorcades.