Qatar by Irene Butler –
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By Irene Butler –
Since tales of Aladdin swept my imagination away on a magic carpet in grade school, my desire to journey through the Arabian Peninsula has not waned. Sixty years later, I am to realize this dream. My husband Rick and I arrive in Qatar, the small country that jets into the Arabian Sea like a thumb off Saudi Arabia’s border, to discover how this culture steeped in tradition has melded with modernity.
On our first day in the capital of Doha, we jauntily begin a stroll on Al-Corniche, the 8km U-shaped avenue that hugs the shimmering turquoise Gulf waters and is dotted with date palms, flowering plants and amazing sculptures. After a few kilometres, we know why we are almost alone on this promenade, and the stream of vehicles on the roadway with windows rolled-up-tight against the broiling sun makes sense. Our walk is likened to a hike across the Sahara. We thirstily forge ahead to the gleaming towers of glass and steel around the bend, knowing they are not a mirage.
Qatar has not escaped skyscraper-building fury of the oil-rich countries. We welcome the stunning marble and glass architecture of the City Centre Doha Mall, and blissfully nestle in coffee shop armchairs with a litre of H2O and silky-smooth cappuccinos before heading back to our hotel – in an air-conditioned taxi.
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