In my second Qatar post I decided that I would write five posts about my trip and so today I will officially end my public reflections on my trip. According to Qatar Part 2 I am suppose to talk about “Architecture, Beauty and Islamic Culture.” However, since that post I have reflected a lot more and have decided to share something a little different. This post will be more about why Qatar made such an impact on me, a realization I hadn’t made back in April.
Background to this post: About a month ago I was driving from Ottawa to St. Catharines with my husband, but this time we were driving separately. Brent was in the UHaul and I was in our car. It is a five hour trip and about two hours in, I decided to turn off the music and listen to the thoughts and emotions that were starting to bubble to the surface. Before the last song left my head, there were streams of reflection coming from my heart, and much to my surprise they were all about Qatar. If time would have allowed this would have been the perfect opportunity to sit down with my journal and write for hours, but unfortunately I was left to talking out loud and scribbling down my thoughts on a scrap piece of paper, one word at a time, while driving. Here are some of the things that surfaced.
If you know me at all, I have a love/hate relationship with change. It is a strange addiction that may come from the many moves I made as a kid or my adventurous spirit, but I am always looking for change around me. Brent will comment about how often I want to redesign our living room or re-organize the pictures on the wall. I love the thrill of changing locations, starting a new job and the change of seasons. On the flip-side I hate change. It takes me a while to adjust to a new location, a new job or a change of environment. I often will turn inward, not want to go anywhere, and will crave a space that feels familiar and like home. It’s a very strange dynamic in my life but it is part of who I am.
From my perspective Qatar has the same relationship with change. It is in the throws of incredible change; everything is in a state of transition and change in Qatar, from architecture, to education, to business to culture. There seems to be no stone in Qatar that hasn’t been touched. Everyone seems to be loving all this change and the country feels alive! However, with all the hype there is also a low rumbling of a culture longing to hold onto something familiar, something constant, something old. My experience in the desert home exemplifies this to me. It is a culture in between two worlds, the old and the new; it is thriving with all the change yet it’s thirsting for the old. I often feel the same way.
Everywhere you look in Qatar, you see development happening. New buildings, new roads, new programs, new universities, new trees, new people. It feels like Qatar has been put on fast-forward and right before your eyes you see the country develop. In a few decades, the country has gone from being a fishing village to a skyscraping City scape; progress that took the western world hundreds of years to achieve. It is absolutely stunning to watch!
This development resonates deeply with me. I am a developer. I absolutely love to be a part of the development of an idea, of a person or of a community and find great satisfaction in seeing small and large improvements to any of these things. The developer in me was basking in the glory of Qatar. It was life giving to be in a place that is developing where ever you look. I felt energized by it, stimulated by it and inspired by it. Multiple times throughout my trip, I wished that I could come back in ten years and see the progress that was going to be made because I know it will be totally different from what it is now. Development on steroids. So phenomenal!
One of my favourite courses in my sociology degree was Qualitative Research. I marvelled at the work of my Professor, Nancy Cook, and dreamed that one day I would be a Qualitative Researcher and study different societies like she did. I then realized that I wasn’t willing to do a fourth year of university never mind my PhD so being a professional researcher may not be in my future. But after my trip, these longings resurfaced and I decided that if I was ever to be a real Sociologist I would go back to Qatar and study it in-depth.
I found everything about Qatar fascinating. Millions of sociological questions swirled in my head while I was there: How does a society adapt to such rapid change? How does Islamic religion fit into the new definitions of Qatari culture? Why do the young boys gravitate to dune bashing for their past time? Why did they just build the most gigantic State Mosque you could ever imagine? What does it mean? How has Islam survived in a culture so obviously influenced by Western priorities? What is multi-culturalism? What are the social classes? Why is everyone so content with a non-democratic rule? How is power used? etc. etc. etc. They never stopped and even after I left, I still was plagued with questions. After a long draught, my brain was engaged and stimulated to think and analyze the world around me. It was exhilarating. I absolutely loved it and wished I had months to researching such a fascinating and unique society. In another life I will be a dedicated student and come back and research the beautiful world of Qatar. One day, one day.
If time was not an issue, for either you or me, I would share the many other thoughts and reflections in my head. Qatar made a mark on me in a way that I didn’t expect and I felt like a few missing pieces of my puzzle were found there. These past five posts, though you may be ready for me to move on from this ten day adventure, just scratch the surface of my experience in Qatar. I hope each post gave you a glimpse into the beauty that I found in there and helped shed some light on a side of the Middle East that you may not have seen before.
Jeff and Kathy, I can not express enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to come and visit you. You opened up a window for me that I don’t think I’ll be able to shut for a while. I feel so fortunate that I had the chance to see you in your element and experience a taste of what you indulge in every day. It was a trip of a life time and most definitely an adventure I will never forget. Thank you for inviting me on your journey and I hope that I have helped to develop your understanding of this place you now call home.
Thank you all for reading and for allowing me to process my thoughts with you. I have no doubt that Qatar will pop up here and there in future posts, but for now, Qatar posts are over. I hope you’ve enjoyed.