What you need to know:
- Many times when I walk from my apartment to the local supermarket to buy a loaf of bread for instance, I find I am the only person on the road. It almost gives me the creeps.
- Many Qataris venture out at night when it is cool, but the roadsides are still deserted.
Visitors carry Hayya card on lanyards
It is easy to tell a World Cup visitor here in Qatar. They have a lanyard hanging from their neck holding a card.
You guessed right, it is their Hayya card that allowed them entry into Qatar. The card must be produced to enter the stadium and to use public transport free of charge.
The card is also digital and you can pick out visitors in the Doha Metro easily as they carry their phones with their hands ready to display their digital entry document on demand.
For good measure, some visitors also have a printed version tucked away safely in their shoulder bags, backpacks and pockets.
Women drive cars, rare to find then unaccompanied
Qatar is an Islamic country. Majority of the citizens are Sunni Muslims, the rest Shia. The country is deeply conservative and unsurprisingly patriarchal.
But unlike some of their neighbours here like Saudi Arabia, women enjoy many rights. They have a right to free education up to university level.
Many end up becoming doctors, engineers, marketers etc. They are allowed to own and drive cars.
It is not common to see a woman, clad in a buibui behind the wheel of a road hogging SUV, speeding away along one of the roads in the complex Doha transport network. However, it is rare to find a native Qatari woman on the streets unaccompanied.
Roads almost devoid of pedestrians
If you are used to seeing a sea of humanity on the roadside as is the case in Kenya – ever been to downtown Nairobi?—then you will be shocked by the situation here in Qatar.
Crowds, unless it is the World Cup mob congregating, are rare on the streets. Most roads are almost devoid of pedestrians save for the occasional walker.
Many times when I walk from my apartment to the local supermarket to buy a loaf of bread for instance, I find I am the only person on the road. It almost gives me the creeps.
Many Qataris venture out at night when it is cool, but the roadsides are still deserted.