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Arrival in Doha 26, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, Qatar, The Emirates, The Gulf.
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I just arrived at Doha International Airport for a nine months stint studying Arabic at Qatar University. Needless to say, Qatar is visually much like the rest of the small Emirate-type city-states on the Eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The general low-rise buildings, all the same stucco colour, occasionally give way to spectacular skyscrapers which are invariably high-end hotels or apartment blocks. Nevertheless, there was something discernibly different about arriving in Qatar that is dissimilar to arriving in Kuwait or Dubai. Obviously, Doha International airport is somewhat smaller that these two airports, although that may well change soon, but, simply put, the people at the airport from security guards to police to porters to the customs staff are far friendlier than Dubai and certainly Kuwait.

Arriving in Kuwait and collecting your bag you are inevitably set upon by a phalanx of porters wanting to take your bag to the car for you (and charge you a fortune) or menacing security guards and custom officials glaring at you for having the temerity to interrupt their conversations. In Dubai, the impression is that it is just so busy that people have neither the time to be friendly nor rude. Here’s hoping that this extra bit of friendliness pervades the rest of the country and is not just a freak occurrence on this particular morning.

Qatar is certainly more outward-looking than Kuwait. It wants foreign input in a whole host of ways that Kuwait unanimously rejects. Perhaps this kind of ethos makes its way (through osmosis or by threats) to the staff at the airport. In short, you actually feel that you’re welcome in the country, unlike in Dubai where, as I have said, no one cares either way or in Kuwait where the staff are – more often than not – rude and negligent in their jobs.

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Joined up piping 26, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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…is the title of my article over at Open Democracy. Do go and have a read…

open dem