For the last week I have been in Doha, Qatar, a return visit from my first eight years ago. Boy, have things changed. What was largely a barren peninsula has been transformed into a vibrant, energetic, and beautiful gem by the sea. Then it was just a few isolated buildings surrounded by flat desert, now parts of Doha look like a new Manhattan. The contrasts between old and new, between wealth and working class are obvious but the people are uniformly friendly.
|West Bay from the Corniche|
The architecture in Doha is as varied as you might expect. As a metaphor for all societies in general, outward appearance is not the whole story and Doha is no different. Underneath the façade lies a rich and diverse culture that is much different than what I am used to, and in many ways very appealing. Not necessarily in all ways, however. I will take LA traffic and drivers any day. Just sayin.’
|Islamic Museum of Art from Dhow Harbor along the Corniche|
For those construction folks among you, concrete and CMU are the materials of choice here. I am not certain why these materials are the standard but suspect a strong combination of familiarity and availability. Observing multiple construction sites gives one appreciation for advanced technology and equipment. Looking at the finished product from the
outside and experiencing it from the inside of the buildings, however, one would never suspect or wonder what is underneath.
Qatari’s are taking good advantage of a unique opportunity. The growth they are experiencing is multi-dimensional, not just in the built environment. The government is aggressively funding large infrastructure projects and leap frogging the country with the aid of private investment. Great attention is being paid to the development of institutions that will underpin and sustain the maturation of society on a broad scale. It is a country of great contrasts but also one of great promise, energy and enthusiasm.
|Even the streetlights look like cranes|
There is a lot going on here and it feels a bit like the Old West of American lore at times. Entrepreneurship is the driving force. If you’re looking for energy and opportunity it would be hard to find a better place to hitch your horse….or camel.
You can see my other Doha photos here.