Sunday, June 25, 2017

What does one do during Eid

The first day of Eid is a major holiday for Qataris. Last night the plan was for the guys to meet up at a majlis but only if Eid was not called. Since Eid was called the meet-up was cancelled -- it's a busy day today for Qataris. While most people will have a week off of work Qataris will not go away on holiday until after the first day of Eid.

Yesterday the malls were packed with shoppers getting ready for the holiday. For florists and chocolate shops it was busy as people were buying flowers and treats for all of the visiting that they would be doing during Eid.

Firstly there is an Eid prayer that takes place around 5am. Most Muslim men will attend the prayers and mosques will be overflowing. The Government even supplied a list of locations that will hold the prayer so people know which mosques to attend.

Then the visiting begins. Qataris will be driving all over town visiting relatives. Given the large size of Qatari families I believe there is a lot of visiting as you should go pay your respects to your parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents and so on (and don't forget the in-laws!). Flowers and sweets will be given and you need to have money handy to give to any children or young people present, it's tradition to give young people money as part of Eid. This can be a serious commitment of cash, check out my blog post from two years ago for an example. My understanding is that toy stores do a booming business after the first day of Eid.

There will also be dinner with family. While you have to fast during Ramadan it is a religious requirement that you don't fast during Eid. Eid is a celebration of the end of the fast.

As for me, I will enjoy being able to eat during the day and also being able to sit in a café with a coffee. I missed coffee.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Eid Mubarak everyone!

So Eid was announced tonight, Ramadan is officially over! It was a day earlier than I expected.

Needless to say this Ramadan did not go anything like I had expected. Only a week into Ramadan and suddenly there was a mass blockade of Qatar and all of the craziness that ensued. Not a lot of time for reading usul-al-fiqh, time was taken up with following developments or discussing them with people. At work it was the main topic of conversation every day.

Of course it isn't over yet. Qatar has a list of demands (so broad and bizarre that they're being mocked on social media and online) and Qatar has 10 days to respond. I think there's seven days left to the deadline. What happens after that is anyone's guess.

Until then, Eid Mubarak everybody!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ramadan 2017 - Corniche Car Parade

Because of all that's been happening this month I also forgot the car parade (thanks to Doha News for reminding me). Every day during Ramadan, around 5 o'clock, people take their cars down to the Corniche and drive around. In previous years lots of people were bringing out their fanciest cars or vintage cars to display them at this unofficial "parade". This year there is a different theme, influenced by the recent political events. This year it's about national pride. Lots of cars had images of Sheikh Tamim, especially that illustration from my previous post.

There were also a lot of children standing through the sunroofs of cars, many of them wearing military uniforms. In previous years the police were cracking down on people letting kids stand through the sunroof but this year it doesn't appear that anyone is concerned because it was happening a lot.

There's still a few more days left to Ramadan if you want to go to the Corniche and check out the parade.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rallying Around the Emir

At the start of this blockade crisis an image started getting traction on social media as a way to show support for Qatar. It is a drawing of His Highness Sheikh Tamim.

The Arabic says something like "Glory to Tamim". I've heard the phrase "We are all Tamim" occasionally but that is not what the Arabic inscription says.

Anyway the image has really gained traction. Many people are now using it as their avatar picture on social media, and the image has spread outside of the internet. You can see it on shop windows:


Even on billboards and the sides of buildings:

As for the crisis itself there hasn't been much of a change. Apparently Saudi Arabia is drafting up its list of demands to present to Qatar. Shouldn't they have had that in the beginning? I mean Saudi/UAE/Bahrain start a blockade nearly two weeks ago and NOW they're drafting up their demands?! Bizarre.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Distraction From the Recent Political Situation

There's nothing like food poisoning to take ones mind from other troubles (*sigh*). I had a rough last few days but the doctor provided me with some medications to help my stomach and it's worked wonders. Seriously, modern medicine is amazing and it bothers me that there are people who completely distrust it. Yes, the profit-driven motive to pharmaceuticals has created a number of issues but boy can it be a relief to come down with an illness, that in the past might have killed you, that nowadays is easily treatable. In this case it's more treating the symptoms, the doctor figures that it is viral so it'll just have to run its course. At least I was able to go to work today.

As for the economic blockade I'm in the loop about as much as anyone else who's been reading the international papers. I'll see friends this weekend so hopefully I'll get a more local perspective about what is going on but in truth I don't think most people really know. Even Arabic-speakers are relying on twitter rumours and facebook posts, I just don't know enough Arabic to translate what is being said.

I did get a number of people contacting me about a twitter rumour making the rounds a week ago that Canada sided with Qatar in the dispute. I did a search of Canadian news and Canadian Government websites and found nothing about this (in fact Canada has been silent about the dispute). Yet one more false rumour that spread around social media. I'm sure tons of stuff are just rumours that people started.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Updates of Life in Qatar

How long has it been, six days now? The economic blockade continues and while everyone is continuing on as normal there is an underlying uncertainty. With diplomats and countries weighing in to the crisis nobody "on the street" here seems to know when or how this is going to end. Until then life goes on.

It's still Ramadan so everyone is fasting and most stores are closed through the day. There's plenty of groceries in the shops and that initial buying spree has ended, in fact things are back to normal. I've been eating out at restaurants for most iftars now, and have been meeting friends for sohours at majlises. Work hasn't been disrupted and the usual traffic jams still occur. During the evenings people gravitate to the parks or malls. While it is hot outside there hasn't been any humidity so the evenings are still pleasant.

The blockade is of course the main topic of conversation as people discuss recent developments & updates, and just try to make sense of it all. As a foreigner resident in Qatar I am now banned from entering the UAE, something most of us foreigners just find bizarre. That Saudi, UAE and Bahrain have now passed laws that if anyone in their countries posts anything sympathetic about Qatar on social media they could be imprisoned is even more bizarre. No such restrictions here though. Qatar is trying to take the high road on this crisis and so are being accommodating to people here. Qatar has not asked any Emirati, Saudi, Bahraini or Egyptian to leave Qatar. Many are leaving because their respective countries have demanded that they leave Qatar but Qatar is not forcing them to go.

Anyway, schools are about to finish for the year after which will be the usual exodus of families to cooler climes for the summer holidays. This happens every year and up to a quarter of a million or so leave. So if in the next week or two you suddenly hear news stories of people cramming the airport for flights out of Qatar it is part of the usual summer break. That's not to say it might be a bit bigger this year, some people might be nervous about the current situation and decide to get their families out earlier than they might normally.

I hope this crisis sorts itself out soon. The respective countries need to get around a table and talk things through.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

But the News Said the Carrefour at City Centre was Cleaned Out!

The news story of panic food-buying and cleared out shelves is picking up steam. I've seen a story in the Guardian, references in the Telegraph, and even a Philippine newspaper discussing it and they all say the same thing: "queues up to 25 people deep" (exact quote) at the Carrefour at City Centre Mall and it's cleaned out of food or essentials and there are ton of empty shelves. Each one of them mentions this specific store and the 25 people deep queues. Every one of them. Which means it all came from one article. I have no idea what news organization was the original source of this.

Anyway, yesterday I posted pictures of grocery stores with tons of food but not from that particular Carrefour. I suspect Carrefour was not expecting crowds of people that morning (who was?) so didn't have time to restock the shelves after the onslaught.

I went there tonight, here's the pictures -- big surprise, they have food and water. These pictures were around 30 hours after they were supposedly cleaned out, I took pictures of rice, bread, and of course the tons and tons of bottled water they are allegedly out of.

I'm not saying there wasn't panic buying yesterday morning, I wasn't there so how do I know, but the stores have plenty of food and if there were "25-person" line-ups things have calmed down and are back to normal. I do hope newspapers bear this in mind and stop with the scare stories.

Monday, June 05, 2017

No, Grocery Stores Have Not Been Cleared Out

There's rumours spreading around social media that people in Qatar are in a panic and stripping shelves bare at grocery stores. Nope, sorry, not true. The grocery stores are certainly busier as people stock up, and I've seen some people with carts loaded with staples like water, rice, oil and milk, but there's still plenty of food. I have just gone to two grocery stores and took some photos. This was around iftar time so there weren't many people around:

Store 1:

Here's the second store:

Everything's fine.