Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas in Doha

Christmas was pretty busy for me this year. Luckily it was a day off at the office, Christmas is not a public holiday here and many businesses in Qatar don't give it as a holiday. This means while I had the day off for the most part it was just a regular day in the city. All the stores and restaurants were open.

This year the Christmas decorations at malls, stores, and especially hotels were a lot more subdued than previous years. Some friends of mine were telling me about how at hotels like the Ritz there were very few Christmas decorations, and certainly nothing to the extent there were in the past. I discussed this with two different Qataris and both said it was likely due to a more conservative stance by the new Emir, Sheikh Tamim. That doesn't seem unreasonable, recently hotels were ordered to not serve alcohol outside or by the pools so Qatar appears to be getting a little more conservative in regards to non-Muslim activities.

I celebrated Christmas by sleeping in (yay!), then running around picking up a couple of things before heading over to my friend’s for an early Christmas dinner, including turkey, all the trimmings, even pumpkin pie (my favourite). Exchanged gifts of course, and for their daughter I gave her some new clothes. Hopefully she’s still young enough to not care that she received clothes for Christmas, when you’re a kid you eventually reach an age where you hope for toys and clothes are not a ‘cool’ gift.

In the past we've met for Christmas at a hotel buffet but this year my friends decided to host at their place, starting the dinner early so that the young children at the dinner could go to bed at a decent time. Which was great because I had to leave around 7 to go to . . .

. . . a wedding!

Remember how I mentioned that Christmas is not a holiday in Qatar? To Muslims this is just any other day and it just so happened to be the day one of my Qatari friends was getting married. So I went to the hall, chatted with a lot of my friends who were also there for the celebration, gave my congratulations to the groom of course and watched some of the festivities (unfortunately I forgot my camera though). The evening ended at a hotel café on the beach with some of my friends, chatting while they smoked shisha.

It was not a typical Western Christmas but I’ll take it anyday.

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