jeudi 6 juillet 2017


I am in Doha to show solidarity with the country, which is facing a diplomatic crisis, forced on them by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, all I suppose stalwarts of human rights, democratic rights of women and minorities and supporters of movements such as Hamas or Hezbollah or Syrian rebel groups and those in Libya. In fact this is the case of a kettle calling a pot black. Qatar has been one of the few lights on this dark horizon of the Arab world, with a reasonably independent press and TV, Al Jazeera, not blinded by hatred towards Israel or Iran.
(because UAE and KSA have closed their airspace to QR flights, they have to deviate over Iran to come to land in Qatar)
I feel good being here, I want to show my solidarity by being here, flying my favourite airlines Qatar Airways.

I have been here much less than 24 hours and I have come across so many nice people from so many countries. Qatar, in my opinion is a soft Arab nation, much like Oman.
The Flight attendant on my flight from KL was from Thailand. The immigration officer was a Qatari lady to whom I expressed my solidarity with her country. She stamps a transit visa on my passport.

Syed from Cannanore is my Uber driver, with whom I have a pleasant talk, not missing a chance to tell him about the innovations in technology that is coming out of Israel, he told me of the visit of his PM to Israel. At the Westin Hotel, Geeta who has a much sonorous last name, is from India, and was pleasant and upgraded me to a very  nice room making my stay extra pleasant. Anisa from Uganda and another lady from Jakarta made up the Front Desk. Shayam from Sri Lanka was the bus boy.

I waited for my friend Aksam from Matare to come by. He has been a friend ever since I met him at the old lounge at the old Hamad International in 2012. He came with a friend who worked at the American base; also a Sri Lankan and we went off to the park surrounding the Islamic Art Museum, enjoying the bright lights shining on the desert sky. At the end of our evening, we ended up in Lanka restaurant where I could taste Paratta and Chicken Curry. The place was full of Sri Lankan men with an occasional Indian or Egyptian.

This morning’s breakfast was a buffet, how I lamented the buffet at My Kitchen at Double Tree in KL where I had Roti Canai and Chicken curry just yesterday. Here it was mainly a European fare. I talked to a Filipina who let me into the premises, a Bangalorean who made me a nice omelet, A Tunisian who pointed out the Hummus, Labneh and Foul, Rose from the Philippines giving me an extra cup of coffee to take back to the room. Visnu from Nepal was the obliging waiter and we talked about the days when he worked in Dubai, and the comparisons from his viewpoint of these two countries. Anisa from Uganda accompanied me to the Breakfast Buffet and leaving me in the hands of the stern Filipina lady.
I do not belong to this desert, as my ancestors may have crossed these lands centuries ago, but I have no connection that I feel to Malaysia, for example or to Cochin in Kerala.
So it was good to talk to Rohainah, from Malaysia who is a chef in charge of one aspect of the food offerings.

The atmosphere is welcoming, men so elegantly dressed, with their long flowing robes without a crease, headgear waving in the air. As I pointed out to the receptionist, when you go to a country, you are attracted by the elegance of the women, say in Colombia or Argentina, but in Qatar, the elegance of the men attracts your attention more than the fully covered in black women, dressed traditionally as they have been for centuries.

I am happy to be in Qatar. Cuba has a special relation with Qatar and there is a Cuban Hospital at Dukhun, especially constructed to provide space for Cuba to practice its well-known humanitarian medicine.