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March 14, 2006

Phone Numbers

I intended to post my new phone numbers here, but seems I never got around to it. Here they are:

Mobile +(974)512-7449
Work +(974)495-2315
Home +(974)487-5305

Replace the + with whatever you need to do to call internationally. In North America that generally means "011". 974 is the country code for Qatar and the rest is obvious.

Just a word of warning, in Qatar all calls to a mobile phone are billed to the caller, not the recipient. If you call my mobile you may end up paying for my airtime in addition to the long distance charges from wherever you are. Having said that, I'd love to hear from friends and family anytime! :)

March 12, 2006

Dubai

I just got back from visiting Dubai for the first time. Mom and Dad have some friends there and enough Qatar Airways points for free tickets, so who was I to refuse? We went swimming on Friday, then to church, and then visited another family that mom and dad are friends with. Friday evening, our host arranged for us to get comp tickets to the closing night of the Dubai Jazz Festival. Apparently friends of friends work for Phillips, who is the main sponsor.

The Jazz Festival was a quintessential middle east experience. In a really nice park by a large fountain and pond in Dubai's Media Village, across from the CNN building was the Jazz Festival grounds. We got there just in time for the break before the headliner. When the main act finally came out, it was Roger Hudson, former lead singer for Supertramp. Yeah, I said jazz festival. He played a bunch of his old hits on guitar and piano, with just a sax player backing him up. I guess that was the jazz angle. Anyway, it was interesting just for the experience.

On Saturday we went out for Brunch, then drove by the Jamiareh beach and the Burj Al Arab (the famous 7-star hotel). Then on to Mall of the Emirates, where I went skiing. Yep, downhill skiing on snow, indoors, in the desert. I'll update this post with some pictures tomorrow. It was surprisingly good considering it was indoors in the desert.

To follow that up we went to downtown Dubai and saw just some of the Suq areas. Like Doha, Dubai has large areas of tradiitonal markets where you can get all kinds of beautiful or tacky things at very negotiable prices.

Anyway, it was a whirlwind tour, but Dubai is definitely interesting. What everybody says about traffic is true - it is truly madness. I guess it's a combination of the fast growth, lack of mass transit like rail or subway, and the culture that emphasizes status, and your car is big status symbol.

For now, back to the grind in Doha. Hopefully I'll get to go back to Dubai in a month for an education conference between the end of classes and exams.

March 04, 2006

Enjoying the weekend

I'm told it's normal for a new instructor to be swamped in their first semester, but even with that in mind, I think I've been working way too hard for the last month. This weekend for the first time since early January, I have determined to not do any school work. Now, I still ended up at the office for various reasons, and I answered a work-related email or two, but on the whole I had a fantastically enjoyable weekend. On Thursday evening I went to the Corniche and read a book in the afternoon, then went to see a movie at the mall and finally paid a social visit to some co-workers. On Friday I went skating at City Center Mall, then took my book to the pool at the family compound, where I had a nice chat with another CNAQ instructor that I hadn't met before. Mom had made turkey dinner, and after that was done, I went to the Qatar Open Tennis tournament to see Martina Hingis play Amalie Maurismo in the semi-finals. I stayed to watch some doubles from better seats after the crowd got a little smaller.

Today I came to school early to video chat with Krista on MSN. Then I cleaned up around the house a little, and went back to the Corniche to read in the shade of a palm tree in a nice park overlooking the harbor. Came back to school for ultimate frisbee, but not enough people showed, so I just came back to the office to do a little more personal email and websurfing. Now I'm headed back to the tennis club for the finals. I'm going early and bringing my book.

So, I'm finding that when I make time for it, life in Doha can be very good. Strange, but good. Actually, an experience that I heard about yesterday illustrates just how strange things are here. A couple from the college went to walk along the Corniche yesterday morning. I knew there was a triathlon happening yesterday, so I wasn't surprised when they said they walked by the finish area just in time for the end of the women's event and heard the winner announced as 'world's top-ranked female triathlete wins again today' or something like that. Then I realized that the same evening I was going to watch the top women in tennis. All for free, and just another day here. Nothing special. A month ago it was the men's tennis, or grand prix motorcycles, or jewelry exhibit, or golf open, or whatever. Like I said, that's life in Doha.

Next weekend, I'm going to Dubai, just for a change...