Saturday, July 06, 2019


I was tidying up my apartment and came across a series of art cards.

These were from a gallery exhibition in Vancouver called Carded. Every year they would invite artists to create an artwork to put on a card. Then, at the one-night only show, they would display the paintings and you could buy packs of random cards for $5. You would then go around and trade people for cards that you liked while looking at the originals. Some of the artists were there so you could chat with them as well. It was an interesting concept. I went in 2016 with my brother-in-law, as he had done a painting for the show, and bought a number of packs so I had most of the set by the end of the evening.

You can see pictures of the event here: I can't see my brother-in-law or I in the photos, we must have been in one of the other rooms at the time.

So what to do with the cards? I had an idea, why not mount them and use them as a poster. I don't have a lot of wall space, and a friend of mine likes artwork, so I brought the cards to him with the idea and he loved it. So we went through the cards, removing the ones with nudity (he's Qatari and doesn't want to display artwork with nudity), then gluing it on a backing-board and putting it under glass.

Here's the final piece:

Looks good.

You can see the cards from every year of Carded at I'm not sure if they do it anymore but it was a cool concept so maybe someone in your town would be interested in doing a similar event.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Metro Update (rumour)

I wandered down to Souq Waqif last night, taking the metro to the closest station, Musherib. With all of the nearby construction I'd say walking to the Souq from there is not a great option, you need to walk along the road next to construction fences and no sidewalk, you can't cut through the new Musherib neighbourhood yet. A metro-bus is available though so I recommend taking that.

Anyway I went over to Souq Al Nejada to see how its development was doing. It's coming along nicely, it looks like it will focus on selling carpets.

It also appears that the plaza is over the Souq Waqif metro station, which is part of the Gold Line.

The Gold Line is set to open sometime between now and the end of 2020 but I'm going to say it won't be open in the next few months for sure. The Souq Waqif station still has a lot of work to do, and it was the same at Al Sadd Station when I drove by there the other day.

But the Green line looks a lot more further along. I was at Al Bidda Station (both the Green and Red line go through there) and they were testing trains on the Green line, including the information signs. So I expect in the next few months some or all of the Green line will become operational, at a minimum I figure the Mansoura to Education City section. It would make sense to try to have that ready for September when students head back to the Universities.

Qatar Rail's website is silent on upcoming openings but that's my guess: Green Line by September, Gold Line much later.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Travel in the Digital Age

Yesterday I got back from a big vacation (Greece & Turkey. Santorini really is as stunning as pictures show it to be). When I got home I noticed that there just seemed to be a lot of clutter in the apartment, stuff slowly building up over the years, so it was time for a spring cleaning (well, it's summer but you get the idea).

Cleaning a bookshelf I found tons and tons of papers from previous travels. Maps, transit information, pamphlets that they give out at various attractions, just tons of vacation stuff. It made me reflect on why did I bother saving all of this? I chucked it out of course but I figure that I kept it because I was being old school and thinking I might need it again if I ever visited those places.

Thanks to the internet age how people travel has really changed. Papers maps? Use Google maps or other mapping apps. Need info on a place? Wiki or the attraction's website. Plane tickets? Just show them the confirmation email on your phone. What do you want to do tonight? There'll be tons of tourism websites, reviews, nearby restaurant listings, and sites with up-to-date events happening in the city. Heck, use your phone to buy tickets to the show you just found online. It's almost quaint to have guidebooks and printed items with you these days. Not that I'm entirely digital -- I still pre-print hotel reservations and things like that just in case something happens to my smartphone, but there's really not much of a need to carry books and papers with you when wandering around seeing the sights.

I'm old enough to remember travellers' cheques. Do those even exist anymore?

So out they went. The maps, pamphlets, guidebooks, all of it. I'll try to break the habit of keeping stuff like that with me. It'll save paper as well, one of the great benefits of digital technology. Maybe 10 years from now we'll find reading a physical newspaper or magazine to be 'old school'.

I'll still print tickets and reservations though.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Ramadan 2019 - the Car Parade

And it was time to see another Qatar Ramadan tradition. Every day around 5:00pm tons of people cruise up and down the Corniche, biding time until iftar. It's a chance for Qataris to show off their classic or expensive cars, but others don't drive anything too out of the ordinary and just join the crowd. Meanwhile other people stand on the side to take photos. It happens every afternoon during Ramadan.

As an aside this was the only time that day that I saw children hanging out of sunroofs or windows. In years past it was a lot more frequent but the police started cracking down on it, and that's a good thing. So this year I only saw this one time.

Otherwise enjoy some of the vehicles from that day's "parade":

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Ramadan 2019 - The Ramadan Cannon

Yesterday I made my annual trip out to see the Ramadan Cannon. Every Ramadan the Government sets up a cannon next to the State Mosque, which is fired when the sun sets to tell everyone that the fasting period has ended.

So off to the mosque.

It's in a beautiful location, on a small hill with one of the nicest views of West Bay.

As usual plenty of families were there. The military guys overseeing the cannon let kids climb on it.

By the way if you ever want to know where to get those military uniforms for children I suggest Souq Al Ali, a number of shops there carry them.

So as the time approaches the soldiers move the spectators to a safe distance.

... ready . . .


And then everyone heads back to their vechicles to drink something, have some dates and snacks, then go to iftar.

I had packed some food and water, but then I forgot it (smh) so I raced home to have iftar.

If you live in Doha you still have a chance to see it. The cannon is fired every day of Ramadan at around 6:15-6:20 (depending on when the sun sets).

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ramadan 2019 - Eating

So we're half-way through Ramadan. The Qatari holiday of Garangao was yesterday. I was at a friend's house that evening but he is in a new neighbourhood under construction so only one set of kids showed up. My friend was not expecting anyone at all so he didn't have anything prepared, he wound up giving them some oreos (lol).

I've been really good about not going to tons of Ramadan buffets at hotels and restaurants. I've only been to one so far and while I won't say I was just sticking to salads I did cut back a lot more than I would normally do. The buffets are lavish and have so many options that it's difficult to not overeat.

That is not to say I'm losing a ton of weight. While my iftar has been pretty good most of my evenings are spent at friends' majlises, and temptation is always around. Every majlis has stuff like this on hand:

Chips, chocolates, cookies, biscuits, you name it. And inevitably people bring desserts like cakes and donuts.

Sometimes healthy options are available though.

Then it's sohour time. Even on a weekday we will be eating around 1am. A lot of time it's delivery fast food (burgers, pizza) or Arabic takeaways. Once it was a more traditional platter of chicken on rice (not always as healthy as it might sound, sometimes a lot of oil is used when cooking), and sometimes we get subs, which are a bit healthier if they don't use mayo or high-cal sauces. I try to be good but at the same time you're starving, and your next decent meal will be in 17 hours, so you tuck in.

Hopefully I've maintained my weight or lost a little bit of weight so far.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Ramadan at Katara

Last night I met friends at a restaurant at Katara. It had been a while since I had been there so I went early to wander around and see what had changed. A lot it turns out.

Katara had some beautiful decorations up across the roads for Ramadan.

And a new section had opened, sort of a small, upscale mall with buildings that to me look Italian.

Not all of it had opened yet, there were a few cafes and restaurants and a number of clothing shops, the heart of it being the French Department store Galeries Lafayette. I didn't have a chance to go in and wander around but I'm assuming that it's high-end luxury brands inside. A number of Qataris were there shopping and enjoying the cafes.

What was most surprising, and it took me a minute to notice, was that the temperature was surprisingly cool outside. This new section had air conditioning bulit into the walkways, so even though I was outdoors it was still cool. When I left the area to go to the rest of Katara the temperature increased sharply.

So with the new section there are a lot of restaurants and cafes at Katara now. Luckily there is a Metro station at Katara (opening soon), which will make it a lot easier for people to get there.

Also new, at the far end of Katara, on Shakespeare Street, the parking lot at the end now had a ton of small kiosks selling various food, similar to what is happening at Qatar Sports Club and Lekhwiya Club. So now there are even more food choices.

I left there and headed to the restaurant to meet my friends, walking along the beach to take in the view. Katara has developed into a really nice place. While some of it is underutilized (like the amphitheater) there is more to do there now and it has some of the best views in the city. Hopefully the Metro station will open soon and allow it to be busier.