Sunday, February 14, 2016

Desert Roses

For Valentine’s Day I thought I’d mention a different kind of rose, of which I keep a bowl of at home.

These rose-looking objects are actually a crystal that grows in deserts near areas where there's salt. Called ‘desert roses’ there is at least one place in the southern deserts of Qatar where they can be found. I’ve been there twice, along with other groups of people, essentially mining the area for these roses. For the most part you have to dig a bit to find them.

But if you're lucky sometimes the wind removes the top layer of sand, exposing them, as shown by my Mother.

While they may look like small rocks in fact in Qatar they form an entire layer of the basin so once you hit that layer you have to break through to be able to chip roses off. The layer is quite hard and a shovel usually isn't usually enough, you need a pick or similar mining tool to get through it. It can be tough work in the sun.

They are pretty though. Unfortunately too many people were digging them up so now many groups don’t do excursions to the basin anymore. The crystals can take decades to form and they were getting depleted by all the ‘mining’. I haven’t been for at least five years and don’t intend to go anymore, I have some so no need to get greedy. My best specimens are gone though, if I have guests over they always admire them so I usually give them a nice one as a gift to take home. They make lovely souvenirs, shame they don’t grow quickly.

So why tell you about desert roses? Well, if you ever visit Qatar there is a new National Museum being built, and the architecture is making some people go WTH?

And now you know what inspired the new Museum building.

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