Doha, Qatar

Deserted at 5 A.M., the airport was like Grand Central Station
a few hours later.
Departing Miami International Airport, we arrived 14 hours later in the small mid-eastern country of Qatar.  Landing at the new Hamad IA (completed in 2014 for passenger flights), we were blown away by the impressive facility.  Frequent signage in English and Arabic, coupled with airport staff ready to provide assistance and clarification, if needed, made moving through the extensive building a piece of cake.  Built to handle 29 million passengers a year, expansions are in the works to be completed in advance of the 2022 World Cup.  Without question, this is the finest airport we have traveled through.

Slightly apprehensive prior to our arrival, we were uncertain how easy or difficult it might be to get around in Doha.  Certainly, we have zero knowledge of Arabic, but we had no understanding of how widespread English usage might or might not be.  During our brief exposure, with airport staff, taxi drivers, hotel and restaurant staff, everyone we came in contact with spoke English.  Signage throughout the city-- street signs, directional signs and businesses were both in English and Arabic.  We weren't expecting that.

An ultra modern city of around 1.3 million, Doha is located on the Persian Gulf.  Futuristic architecture is one of the highlights of the area, with outstanding museums, shops and sports facilities.  Arriving near the end of the day, temperatures had dropped to a comfortable mid-80's range, forecast for the following day was 105+.  Make no mistake this is the desert and scorching temperatures are the norm for much of the year.  A heavy dusty haze hung over the city.
City shot from the airport hidden in the dust.

Qatar Air has also implemented, in conjunction with the Qatar government, efforts to make traveling to the area more enticing. Booking with the airline entitles passengers to a free transit visa, good for up to 96 hours.  This visa normally cost $30, and the airline will also provide one night free hotel or only $50 for a second night's stay.

Unfortunately, our stay was only overnight, but this is an impressive area and well worth further exploration if our travels lead us through the Middle East again.  Now on to Johannesburg.

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