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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday – a day of twists and turns

Hello all – welcome to Sunday. The plan for our day was to start out early, beginning with breakfast. I must say, the breakfast spread is quite good. Many different fruits, meats, eggs, juice…reminds me a lot of western European hotel breakfasts. There were even made to order omelets (of which I will partake tomorrow morning). Most of the group had mixed sleeping results overnight, which culminated in the 5am ‘call to prayer’ horn that was very distinct in voice from our room. Guess I’ll use the earplugs tonight just to make sure I get good sleep. It was quite confusing though…I remember hearing it, rolling over, and asking myself what in the world was singing. Then I rolled over again.

Our first stop in the day was to Al Jazeera. We were not allowed to bring in cameras or phones on the tour, and entrance to the compound where they are at was fairly heavily guarded. But we made it in, had two excellent tour guides from their marketing area that explained the history of the station and where it is now. It seems like they are making a very concerted effort to offer a balanced approach to journalism – offering both sides of any story and letting the viewer make a decision. The examples they provided included the reporting on Gaza, Afghanistan, and other places in the world in conflict (and a few mentions of Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld along the way). I was pretty impressed with their overall layout in their broadcast center and newsroom…reminded me of the news area and set at WTMJ. I wished I could have taken a few shots to share…but its very hard to get into Al Jazeera for a tour of any kind, so I consider myself fortunate to have been there at all.

After leaving the station, we proceeded to the Villaggio Mall, one of the largest and most well-known Malls in Qatar. Very upscale, with many high-end shops and stores. While mall going is not usually my thing, I did walk around the entire place (including the river with gondola boats and ice rink in the middle) to see what I could see. I also stopped at the Carrefour store and got some food and water for the room. Just sitting in the middle of the rows of stores and people watching is fascinating – so many different cultures and groups walking by is sure something to take in.

The ride back to the hotel, though, was something else. What should have been about a 15-20 minute drive back all of a sudden became a half hour, then 45 minutes, and it was at about that time our driver realized he was lost and not sure where he was going. Ah yes…the joys of shuttle driving in a foreign country with a national that doesn’t speak good English. Fortunately, one of us had a map to share with him, and a little over an hour after we first left the mall we made it back.

A meeting with our small groups went quickly, and then we were off to dinner at a Lebanese restaurant. This was my first time eating this type of food, and I must say we were all impressed with the variety and quality of the dishes. I will post some pictures later at the end of this post. Right now, we are all completely wiped out and in need of sleep.

If only my luggage will now arrive…come on phone, ring!


  1. Fortunately, one of us had a map to share with him

    Does your iPhone work there for GPS and stuff?

  2. It does, but it would cost a fortune since they don't have an AT&T agreement...so I do not use it.