| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The State of Qatar is an Unitary constitutional monarchy, covering 11.581 square kilometres in-between the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia. It is the home of 2.675.522 citizens, of which 67,7% are Muslims, 13,8% Christians and 3,1% Buddhists.
The currency is Riyal, worth 1,71 Danish Krone and €0,23. The GDP is US$185,395 billion.
The Climate of Qatar can be described as subtropical dry, hot desert climate with low annual rainfall, very high temperatures in summer and a big difference between maximum and minimum temperatures, especially in the inland areas.
Due to the cities and desert-like conditions, only a few larger mammals are found here: Sand cat, Felis margarita, Golden jackal, Canis aureus, Arabian oryx, Oryx leucoryx and the Arabian gazelle, Gazella arabica. There are 215 common birds in Qatar. There are more than 21 species of lizards, with the most common family being Gekkonidae (9 species). Other common families include Lacertidae (4 species), Agamidae (3 species), Scincidae (2 species), and Varanidae, Sphaerodactylidae, and Trogonophidae with one species each. The horned desert viper, a venomous viper species, has been recorded in the country but is rarely sighted.
More than 300 species of wild plants are present in the peninsula, but I will not be searching for any in particular.
The botanical garden is - as usual; a disappointment: It
is only open after appointment. I might get one, but it look more like a
private company anyway.
The Souq Waqif is fantastic! It all look like ancient desert
buildings, and it is truly worked through. I start with the gold souq, which
have creeks and other fancy stuff. Then I head on to the narrow alleys with
incense, stuffed animals, mattresses, souvenirs, birds, spices, pottery,
tortoises, clothing, waterpibe cafes,
antiques, restaurants, food, fruits
and much, much more.
26. I head north, pretty much through Doha, and
then the suburbs. The aim was the 4000 year old Umm Şalāl 'Alī burial
mounds, but I can't find them. It was the nature here I came for anyway, and
it is here. Like I lean the rest of the day, northern Qatar have pretty much
only one type of landscape: Desert with scattered plants. A few low Acacias,
salt bushes and not more than ten other species of plants in total - as the
annuals are gone by now. Most are gravel, but a few
areas have sand and some areas are rocks.
The next sight is
the harbour of Al Khor. It is pretty
big, and I only see the fishing-part. Here are wooden boats with both nets
and creels. I find it a bit strange: A country with no trees at all, use
wooden fishing boats these days. A group of fishermen is sitting picking
crabs out of their nets - they would have settled for fish, I guess.
On the map, I can see a big harbour up north, and while
the villages, towns and buildings in general disappears, the eight lane
motorway is brilliant - and empty. The last settlement near the road have some
truly impressive pigeon towers. Quite some distance before I reach the port,
I get this distinct feeling: It is an oil-port, and I'm not welcome at all.
And I voluntarily turn around, and find a road heading west towards Al Ruwais.
Along the main road, a few shops are found, and I get lunch and my mug filled with masala. Then I start the tour down the westcoast. Here are signs showing off to forts and others, although there are not really any roads. I follow a rude track to a ruin village, probably a pearl fishing village. The beach is covered in plastic and oil - quite a different from the almost clean desert. The nearby mangrove suffers the same way, and I head on.
The road - and there are not others - follow the coast a
bit inland, and after some time, I see a sign to a fort: Al Thaqab. It is a
stony desert, and the road is real bad. And quite longer, than I had
anticipated. I finally make it to a nice looking desert fort, with no
information, no people and not the better road to leave by, as I had hoped.
When exactly Al Thaqab Fort was built is unsure. Some sources say it dates
back to the 17th/18th century but most agree that it was built in the 19th
The area look pretty much like everything else I have driven through today, until I meet the mountains. Well, it are some sandstone formations, but only two or three metres high. I still botanises, but fail to add any new plants to the list.
I find Zubara Fort near the coast. Her have been some
sort of fortification for thousands of years, but the present is from 1938.
Inside is a lot of information on the history for the location, and outside
is a Bedouin tent.
Then the road turns inland, but without the scenery
changes. I see a few scatted camels and a herd of sheep, but here are no
settlements at all, except a few remote buildings. Near Dukhan, I turn back
towards Doha, sawing the southern Qatar for tomorrow.
27. I head back to Dukhan where I left yesterday in the south. I pass some large herds of camels, but I mainly lookout for some rock formations I spotted yesterday. They are way out in the desert, but I manages to find my way out to them. It is limestone, forming some "mushrooms", and in an else so flat landscape, it is a treat.
Here are hardly any settlement, but a few places apparently have wells that can support some nurseries and even Lucerne crops. I do several trips out in the wild, but I fail to find any new plants the entire day. In general, it is a gravel desert, some areas dominated by sand, others by rocks. Only a few places, the limestone form ridges. The central part seems a bit more fertile than the south, but the differences are minute.
I reach Dukhan, which I had hoped was an old town. It is a brand new one, build by Qatar Petroleum, and most are sealed-off to strangers. Way before I reach the town, huge sighs warn about not taking photos and videos. And considering my past experiences with having my photos looked through, I actually restrain from making any here. Well, except from the pretty flowers in front of the "souk", the only supermarket.
I stock some tiny bananas and biscuits for later, and head south. The road is lined with nicely white-painted pipelines, and the area is pretty neat. Then, 18 kilometres south of town, their company beach make it possible to get out to the water. Here is not really that interesting, but at least, the black stuff is dead seaweed, not oil. They have even bothered to plant some palms. Guess here will be someone in summertime.
The oil-land finally ends, and I can explore some more.
Slightly disappointing, as I still fail to find any new plants. The most
interesting is a sheep herdsman on a donkey.
Most camels and sheep seems to
be left on their own, but the roads are proper fences.
Almost at the south-eastern corner of the country, I spot
a massive sand dune out in the rock desert. It is 2-300 metres high, and
have all kind of formations on its extensive body. I walk to the top - which
take quite an effort, and enjoy the view to the scatted Bedouins.
reach the other Saudi-border, and head home. Despite I really try to find
something interesting on the way back, I fail, and end up in Doha at four. I
walk to the house next door, just to get a picture: The entire building look
like a giant C. Then I drive downtown to the harbour, and then the souk.
A slow start on the day, but I have seen what
I came to see, and from midnight, I will be travelling for more than 26
hours in a row.
One of my goals for the day is to enjoy a lot of masala/Chai/milk-tea. And not at the posh places in the main streets. I find a little cosy restaurant in the back, which turns out to be Yemeni. They show nature film on a TV, and I must go there some day! But they agree, it is not safe enough yet. I get the tea for free, and head on in the slightly sleepy souq.
At half pass two, at prayer-time, most shops closes, but
I get some tea, and enjoy the sun. The pet street is still open, and so are
many of the shops in the main alleys. I passes the huge stables, but the
horses are apparently at brake too. The old farts, driving the wheel-barrows
have their brake for sure; The wheel-barrows stand in groups all over the
At dusk, it is all up running again, and even more street vendors turn up. Here are entertainment at the larger squares, and a lot of people. I get a great fatah dates-dinner at the Yemeni restaurant, and then find the car and drive to the airport. I have seven hours to the flight, but I will work five hours anyway, as I use to Day 4: Back in the Souq.
Qatar have been a pleasant stay, although I could have
done with some more plants. It have fare from been expensive - if I don't
include the parking fine. I have driven 880 kilometres, taken 638 photos and
had a great time in general.
Next stop is Colombia!