I’m back in Doha and have had some time to gnaw on this question for the past months absence, in addition to almost 3 months there earlier this year. To be asked this question implies some answers;
- It’s too hot
- It’s boring/there’s nothing to do
Yes, the mall might have its own gondola (yes really) and ice rink – not a surprise there so much and sensible considering the heat, but my answer to the ‘what do you think of’ question is’ has remained the same through all this time. It’s not sustainable. After all, how much shopping can satiate one’s consumer appetite? The desert can be interesting but how much camel riding, sand dune- ing, quad biking can you do until the adrenalin runs a little on empty?
and then there are the dusty streets, neon lit stores, a far cry from plush residences and malls. There are efforts to reinvent, reinvigorate and integrate. The downtown Souk Waqef (outdoor and projects to build a hybrid residential-cultural-markety type area in the middle of Doha, that will take into consideration city design to create wind tunnels, maximize shade, for a place that is notorious for 50 degree Celsius plus weather). As a colleague once told me, no one moves to Doha for the weather. The weather is a restriction and impediment. I haven’t (yet) experienced a Gulf summer but it is basically ferry from one air conditioned building to the next. Efforts for outdoor bike-lanes will only go so far in the ‘winter’ months. Now, add to this mix a burgeoning consumer culture, an almost invisible recycling culture, a society heavily heavily dependent on cars and you begin to see what I mean. A trip to the edge of Qatar where a spanse of water divided Qatar from Saudi Arabia was marked by garbage. Indeed even the tour guides would toss drink cans down sand dunes and hills for the magic garbage fairy to pick it up. These seemingly small acts can add up to become larger problems. This isn’t sustainable and. Not for the environment and not for regional or global competitiveness. The solution will be to progress without sacrifice and without leaving the majority of the population behind.
More snaps of Doha days here as well as some cool Doha-living people on that journey to follow: