Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sandstorm and a BBQ

Last Friday was a weird day. My friend Mohammed texted to say a bunch of people were going to the beach at Umm Bab (on the west coast of Qatar) so I should come along. I loaded up some stuff and headed out of Doha on the Salwa highway to meet Mohammed at the gas station near the turn-off to Umm Bab. After accidentally going past the gas station I called and agreed to meet him just after the turn-off.

While I was on the Umm Bab road I noticed a large brown cloud coming from the northwest. A sandstorm! In an instant the sunny day turned into what I could best describe as a blizzard, only light-brown sand instead of white snow. Visibility was maybe 75m. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture, I was too busy concentrating on my driving to take a photo, but if you do a quick Google News search you’ll find plenty of photos. It was pretty wild and I've never driven in one like that before. In Qatar you get plenty of dusty days but it’s rare to have an actual sandstorm where the day goes from sunny to dark in less than a minute. I may have seen it I think four times in the 8+ years I’ve been here.

I continued on to Umm Bab, around 30 km away. Because it is on the west coast, and the storm was blowing from the northwest, there was almost no chance of the dust storm at the coast. Sure enough the storm was gone after about 15km and the air was clear when I got to the beach.

The guys set up majlis-style seating and we whiled away the afternoon and evening preparing hamburgers, hot dogs, and liver kebabs, chatting over Arabic coffee or shisha, and playing cards. Luckily one of the guys had brought a tarp that could be unfurled to act as a windbreaker, while it was not dusty it was still windy out. A bit chilly too but most of us had jackets and sweaters or could use the fire to stay warm. After a hearty meal by about 10pm we packed up and went home.

While that’s a typical Arab weekend beach trip it was something I’ve only been on a few times so I was grateful for the invite. If next time I'm given enough notice maybe I’ll make a chili for dinner.

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