What I gathered from my colleagues in Qatar is that the country is blessed with tremendous reserves of Oil and Natural Gas and in fact it has the third largest gas reserves and the highest GDP per capita in the world. Qatar is an absolute monarchy ruled by the al-Thani family since the mid-1800s and has since transformed itself from a poor British colony noted mainly for pearls into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues.
The Doha Airport is beautiful and well managed although not as huge as Dubai Airport but larger compared to Bahrain Airport. I completed my Immigration formality in just 30 seconds although I expected more time assuming the stricter rules and regulations prevailing in that country. Almost all the Immigration Officers are ladies and they follow a strict burqa law. I could not take my eyes off the Blackberry phone, this Officer had, which was Gold plated. The face lurking out of the burqa could put to shame any beauty queens, I thought. No wonder beautiful things need to be kept hidden and not exposed!!!
The drive to the Hotel was barely 10 minutes. Did I enter a Hotel or a Palace? The Marriott at Doha is perhaps the best in town. Wide spacious rooms, excellent food and service sums up my experience. The view from the Hotel room provided me with some photo opportunity. The Hotel has a private beach and even in temperatures soaring above 40 degrees celcius I could see people sun bathing and enjoying the white sandy beach amidst turquoise blue waters.
The country is liberal in many ways. It lies in between the stricter Saudi Arabia to a very liberal Dubai. Most of the Hotel staff members are Indians and Malyalees in particular. The locals constitute barely 30% of the total 1 million population. The rest are Indians, Pakistanis and other Asian or African countries. The local English newspaper named Peninsula covers India in detail. While I was there, I was reading the extensive press coverage on the unfortunate death of a 4 year old schoolgirl who died in a freak accident at Delhi Public School located at Doha. Recently renowned painter Maqbool Fida Hussain was granted permanent citizenship of Qatar by the Emir. Could not see him in the news though.
On my way back to the Airport the Pakistani chauffeur insisted I come back again for a longer duration so that he can show me the city he has settled down since a long time. The city boasts of some forts and museums. Not much to see here but the Visitors come to Doha primarily for business or trade conferences. Do not forget to pick up packet of dry dates and other dry fruits at the Duty Free shop within the Airport area. You get the best here.
Adieu to Doha – an Oil rich nation that has employed thousands of my countrymen.