John and Paul and I visited my daughter Jessica in Doha while she was a student at CMU-Q (Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar) last semester. She had an excellent experience studing Arabic, history, and politics at CMU-Q and Georgetown. Qatar has a very conservative Islamic culture, similar to that of its neighbor Saudi Arabia. It was fascinating to watch guys in traditional white dress adjust their head scarves the way western women fiddle with their long hair. I have heard that between the expat business people and the guest workers, less than a third of the people in Qatar are citizens. So, we did not feel too out of place being westerners.
We were delighted to hear Jessica sing several roles in the Qatar Foundation’s annual musical, which this year was Oliver!. We went for a long walk on the Cornish and took a pearl boat ride across the bay to the very impressive Museum of Islamic Art in its I. M. Pei building. We toured the markets: Souq Wakif (including its depressing pets for sale), the falcon souq, and the gold souq. And we visited the huge Vegas-like Villagio mall, complete with its Venetian canal and gondolas. We played board games one night with some of Jessica’s faculty friends. She even made us dinner – we brought it from the kitchen in the women’s dorm to where John and Paul were in the park near by. We admired the many new and under-construction modern office buildings downtown but after a few days we ran out of things to do and were happy to move on to Egypt for some world-class sightseeing.
Images 2010 Copyright by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher