Living and working in the city of Doha is great. I embrace the heat - Yes, really! I am intrigued by the culture and the sun sets. My job is a constant challenge. I continue to develop myself. And, I have good friends from all around the world. Yet, my most favorite thing to do, is to jump in the 4WD and head out to the desert, at the end of the week.
It is the second trip with my Arab friend Ammar, for Alex, Jo, and me. He brought a small overnight bag for each of us. We headed out to only Ammar knew where. When it comes to life in the desert, Ammar is the most knowledgeable and wisest person I know, so when we leave the city, to another surprise destination, I am excited about what else I am about to experience and happy in the trust I have.
We continue to drive over the tarmac, as gradually the city gets smaller behind us. After some time, we leave the road and journey along a sandy track that looks like it has been created by the tyres of many large trucks. We take a few turns, maybe right or left, I am not sure as I am looking out of the window enjoying the changing landscape. I no longer see just sand and rocks, Ammar has shown us what else the desert has to offer; mushrooms, sand dunes, birds, plants, fruits, scorpions, spiders and sometimes the unexpected. desert is no desert in my mind anymore it's full of life that we do not usually noticed !!
Finally we reach our spot. It is a barren area of land about 20 meters square, and doesn’t look particularly comfortable but I am told that the ground is suitable, that there is sufficient shelter around and the sun will not bake us too early in the morning. Within half an hour camp has been set up and a delicious Arabic meal is well under way. All that is left to do is to lie back, enjoy the stars above and the smell of the food we are about to eat.
The saying that “silence is deafening” is hard to understand unless you have experienced such a silence as you can find in the desert at night. Literally, it gets so loud, I am tempted to break it with some meaningless words. I think better of it and instead watch my friend as he starts to dish up a meal that I would struggle to cook in a well-stocked kitchen. Whilst we eat, we share stories of life. I love to hear Ammar’s family stories and listen to how he describes his people and events in Arab life style . It is clear that our cultures are so different, yet we have a mutual respect of each other’s beliefs and values, and so continue to enjoy our conversations.
As predicted, the morning sun left us alone for enough time to enjoy waking up to the fresh sky above and to pack up the camp. With the car packed and ready, we start to explore. We come across some camels and I leave the car to share my breakfast with one or two of them.
We then drive to some water (a lovely surprise) with a beach as soft and clean as you would find in any Caribbean resort. The warm salty water is crystal clear and with no-one else around, we immerse ourselves and take our morning wash. We stay for maybe 30 minutes in the water; it is divine, just enjoying the water, the sand, the sun and the solitude. After some time, as a reminder that we are in Qatar’s desert, the sun’s heat forces us out of the water and into the air-conditioned vehicle.
We start our drive back to Doha, and before we hit the tarmac, we explore the land, looking for anything unusual, new or interesting. The city grows bigger as we approach, the noise and chaos even more noticeable as we drive through the streets to my home. As we say goodbye, I turn and again feel so lucky that we have experienced this.