Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas in Doha 2015

Merry Christmas everyone!

I had a pleasant enough day. This morning a Qatari friend texted me to see if I'd join him for breakfast at a cafe, " . . . if you're not too hung over from all the partying last night." Huh? Was there some major party I didn't know about? (and he was a devout Muslim who doesn't drink so it wasn't something he would have attended). I went to breakfast and asked him about it, turns out he confused Christmas Eve with New Year's Eve, he thought on Christmas Eve all the Westerners had big parties with lots of drinking.

Christmas is not an official holiday in Qatar but it didn't matter as this year it's on a Friday so it was a day off for everyone anyway. In Qatar people can celebrate Christmas, and thousands go to services at the Cathedral, but for the hotels and other businesses they keep it subdued. They can sell Christmas items like Santa Clauses and stuff but I don't recall seeing anything Jesus-related. Hotels host functions but don't overdo it with all the decorations and so forth. The Government's tolerance can change year-to-year, some years the hotels have had huge Christmas trees, gingerbread houses and so forth, other years they "dial it back" a little.

As it was Friday the newspapers had their one or two page Religion columns and articles. I scanned two English-language papers to see if it would discuss the Prophet Isa (Jesus), acknowledging the holiday, but neither of them did instead focusing on word and deeds of the Prophet Mohammed or discussing the Qur'an.

It's not that Christmas is something to keep hushed up, I looked like this today as I wandered around town. No hassle.

By early afternoon it started raining, and I mean pouring. The clouds were so low they were touching the tops of the skyscrapers.

Many of the hotels have Christmas brunches, typically outdoors! Here's hoping they prepared a 'Plan B' for rain as there was no way to have it outside in that weather. The rain didn't stop me from going to a friend's house for a lovely Christmas dinner. In Qatar most of the hotels offer a package where you can order a turkey with the trimmings and you can pick it up on Christmas day. Saves a lot of cooking at home.

I told my friends that in Canada ordering your Christmas dinner from a 5-star hotel would be seen as a major luxury, I had never heard of anyone doing that before I moved to Qatar, but here in Qatar it's not uncommon.

My friends also had a pumpkin pie (not provided by a hotel). I think they did it just for me because I absolutely love pumpkin pie, it's my favourite. I had a double helping -- and I'm not ashamed. I'd do it again in an instant!

By the time the evening ended it was still pouring, so naturally the streets are all flooded again. I made in back fine but Doha will be looking at the same problems it had from that big storm last month.

Oh well, it was a wet but Merry Christmas.

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