Tuesday, May 22, 2018

12 years in Qatar!

So I have now been in Qatar for 12 years. 12! That's a long time.

Qatar has changed a lot over those years. I'm not kidding, only someone who has lived here or visited it frequently could really grasp just how much has changed. The amount of construction and other projects is staggering, there is always more stuff being built, more stuff completed, and yet it never seems to end. I recall saying eight years ago if I left Qatar I'd come back in 5 years "just to see it when everything is finished". I was a bit naïve about when everything would be "finished".

So I figured I would reflect a bit on just how much has changed since I arrived.

- Salwa road was a 6-lane road with a bunch of roundabouts. Now it's an 8-lane highway with overpasses.

- City Centre was easily the biggest andn best mall in Qatar (no Villagio, Mall of Qatar, Festival City, and Landmark was smaller than now)

- no Katara

- no Pearl

- no Souq Waqif

- no 22nd February street / D-ring road. I don't even remember how one went North without it.

- there were only a handful of hotels, I think maybe ten or eleven places served alcohol (including the Rydges, anyone remember that place?). Whenever a new hotel opened EVERYONE went there to check out the new bar. No one offered happy hour deals, they didn't need to.

- three-quarters of the buildings in West Bay didn't exist. It was mostly sand. Wanted to go to City Centre for lunch? Sure, there was always plenty of parking!

- Does anyone remember the old Musherib neighbourhood? Lots of inexpensive stores and restaurants and thousands upon thousands of South Asians would hang out there on the weekends.

- I remember the old airport, and I mean before the two expansions it went through before everything moved to Hamad International. The old airport was always playing catch-up with the rapidly expanding numbers using it.

- I remember expats moaning about how there's nothing to do in Doha. I don't hear that anymore.

- Education city was in its infancy, many of the buildings weren't there.

- The Ritz was basically out on its own in the desert (so was the Intercon and the Diplomatic Club now that I think about it)

- The population has tripled, TRIPLED. It was <900,000 when I arrived an now it's 2.7 million.

- No Aspire Zone, though Khalifa Stadium was almost finished as it would be needed for the Asian Games

- Right, the Asian Games was here in 2006. That was fun. Loved watching the sport Sepak Takraw.

- I remember parking being pretty good most places. I miss that.

- Does anyone remember Palm Tree Island? That little island just off the Corniche? It used to be a small park with concession stands and stuff. The ferry to it left from somewhere near the Sheraton. Shame it was torn up.

- Lusail was just a race track out in the desert.

Man, a lot has changed. It was cool being through all of those changes. It makes things back in Canada seem like it's standing still.

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