Spring Break in Doha, Qatar
Doha, Qatar – where is this place, and why are we going there? When I signed up for the International Dimensions in Management course over Spring Break 2013, believe me, it was in part because of the allure of Dubai—our first stop on the trip.
The course, which met for several weeks before spring break to learn more about the countries, cultures, and business practices of the places we were visiting, was centered on the two cities, Dubai and Doha.
When I first heard about the trip, I had barely heard of Qatar, or at the very least would not have been able to name one specific fact about the country. However, during the month leading up to the trip, numerous things starting piquing my interest about the country. Between the book I read about Qatar (Qatar: A Modern History by Allen Fromherz), and the Qatari guest speakers we had in our prep classes, I was hooked.
From a small pearl-trading concentration of tribes and British protectorate to an up-and-coming global player and top producer of oil and natural gas, Qatar is poised to make a name for itself. And I was on my way to see for myself!
Think about the story and culture of Aladdin combined with the sky scrapers of New York. This was my impression of Doha, and the city grabbed my attention from Day One. In our brief few days in this beautiful city, we discovered some of its abundant treasures.
Our time in the city was split between business visits and sightseeing activities. Our official visits were to esteemed organizations such as the Qatar National Bank, Education City, and Qatar Airlines; free time was spent at the local market for shopping and live ethnic music, eating delicious dinners (hummus and pita anyone?), and roughing it across sand dunes to a beach on the Gulf.
One of the most exciting parts of the trip involved eight Toyota Land Cruisers speeding across the dessert at 60+ mph across the rolling sand. Imagine a car of five (happily) screaming American girls and one Pakistani driver; the more we screamed, the more “recklessly” he drove! The ride ended at a delightful beach where we splashed in the gulf, ate a delicious dinner, and reflected on our experiences over the past week. It was a great last night of the trip.
Fun aside, we went on this trip to learn, and learn we did. The prevailing lesson: the power of vision. Through our time spent with these companies, our guest speakers, the tour guide, and other acquaintances we met along the way, one thread was woven throughout these interactions: this thriving, growing nation is one with a purpose.
Sure, it still has some strides to make, but it is making those strides in leaps and bounds. For example, with the World Cup approaching in 2022, Qatar is pushing up its 2030 vision in order to make the World Cup a grand entrance onto the world stage.
Suffice it to say that Qatar has held nothing back as it looks toward the future. Thanks in part to those in the organizations we visited, Qatar is well on its way to achieving its vision.