Saturday, April 10, 2004

First Impressions

First Impressions
Saturday, April 10, 2004
1:18:00 AM CDT

06 April 2004

Rudy has been very helpful and welcoming since my arrival. Last night we ended up going out for Korean food, but ended up at the Japanese section of the restaurant. No sushi tonight (to my disappointment) but the food was plentiful and great. The chef did the usual tricks with the spatula and such on the open grill in front of us. That's always entertaining.

After dinner, Rudy gave me the 1/2 riyal trip around Doha, Qatar. First impressions are very favorable. Although Kuwait City and Doha, Qatar started to modernize at around the same time, I'd say that Qatar is winning the race. Almost all new and modern buildings with very few visible slums. Add to that fact that Qatar is hosting the Asian Olympic games in 2006 and has been working hard to show the world how nice it is here an dhow modern their lives have become. Qatar is much more cosmopolitan than I expected. As with so many of the modern Arab nations, there are quite a number of guest workers here. Many, many Filipinos, Pakistanis and other poor Arabs work as guest workers for very low wages.

Unfortunately, the locals here in Qatar as in Kuwait do not treat their guests from these countries with a whole lot of respect. From what I've heard, it is not unusual for a foreign national that gets into a car accident with a Qatari to be yanked out of his car by the Qatari person that may have hit him, and get slapped around. One of the Americans that was hit a month or so ago had problems too. He had been hit by a Qatari that crossed traffic to turn at 10 pm without headlights on. The police are working on changing the accident report by saying that the accident occured at a round-about and changing it so that no blame is assigned (specifically to the Qatari responsible!) I've also heard that if you get into an accident with a Qatari woman, you will always be to blame. Interesting traffic laws here.

Learned today about Taliban Taxis. Taliban Taxis are those that display a black tassel from their rear bumper. They sympathise with the Taliban and display their sypathies this way. Truck drivers also do the same. The emir has allowed them to display their support and sympathies, but will not tolerate any violence against the American guests. Speaking of violence, a Chechen leader was recently assasinated here in Qatar by the KGB. Guess that didn't sit well with the emir who is trying to ensure to the world that his country and society here is tolerant and non-violent.
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