Some days you just never know what is going to happen…
Arriving at Doha, Qatar this morning at 6am I thought I would head out of the airport, go for a nice long walk and taste a bit of this Middle Eastern country and head back by night and on my way to Pakistan.
Then about 30 minutes upon arrival I was told I couldn’t leave the airport (yuck – 17 hours in an airport!) or have to pay a huge amount to get a visa for the day and limited time to spend on the outside.
That was until I spoke to someone who said – ‘oh you have a delay of more than 16 hours – they will put you up in a hotel, pay for visa and all meals’. Game on.
And that is what happened with a long (very hot and burnt) walk.
There are a lot of things to love about the Arab world – culture, language, friendliness, hospitality, food, way of life, singing of prayer, etc… but the one thing that still gets me in these places is how un-worldly it is to have a city in the desert with as much decadence and total disregard to environment and humanity.
Don’t get me wrong – Australia does it very well with growing rice, Canadians heating their igloos and the ‘western way of life’ in general but for me there is something bigger than all that (but not Vegas).
Qatar has the highest average income per person than anywhere else in the world and it is proudly told and celebrated in their info and welcome to the country. Australia is not far behind in highest average incomes but I don’t know anyone in Australia who lives in accommodation like this…
And this not the worst I saw nor is it one of very few examples.
Inequality exists everywhere and again the west (me/us) are probably the owners of the origin and purveyors, however when I am a city like Dubai and now Doha to have lush green grass cover the desert for golf courses and parks while people don’t have access to clean drinking water is pretty fucked up.
I do the work I do for myself first and foremost but places like Doha are the strong and stark reminder of why I enjoy doing what I doing as it really hits me and fires me up for a good batch of social justice and advocacy with the world’s poorest.
I don’t not recommend Doha (great English) as the people are lovely, the culture rich and the way of life unique but I am filled with an extra tablespoon of resolve to see us share this earth and the simple things in life; fairly, happily, with access and opportunity for ALL and forever.
Cheers Qatar (with a non-alcoholic drink) – a great day from my 5 star hotel (major hypocrite!) and we need to support you to say that it is not ok to build ‘stuff’ for us and others in the desert while others struggle to have not enough.