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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Does anyone know where Doha is?

That's what Serena Williams tweeted when she got to Doha Airport.

It seems like a bit of a kick in the teeth for the country hosting her.

Certainly Serena knows where Doha is, as she has been here before. In fact, any big tennis fan will, and soon every England and Brazil fan will.

However, I don't think I did before I found a job here. I had heard of Qatar, but only because of the bombing that had been here.

When I tried to do some internet research on Qatar, I could find very little. The one website with useful information was a blog by an expatriate housewife, and its probably part of the reason why I decided to come here.

Living here several years later, things seem very different.

One thing you notice is the extraordinary lengths Qatar goes to in order to promote itself.

Currently we have the Tribeca film festival, the Qatar women's tennis championships and, next month, the England Brazil football match.

In the Arab world Al Jazeera has put Qatar firmly on the map while much of Asia will have watched the Asian Games.

The net is also a very different place, with Qatar Living users posting, it seems, thousands of times a day, blogs, facebook and twitters users springing up everywhere and websites such as our own, Qatar Happening and I Love Qatar all providing information about the country.

(One thing I have never managed to find is that first blog. Perhaps deleted, or perhaps just buried under the mountain of material published since then.)

Of course, what you forget is while you and I are at the center of our world, Qatar is not at the center of the world, even if it is winning a little more recognition.

Given that Qatar is such a small , though rich, country, perhaps the best answer is the one given by Qatar Airways, and one which Serena must have seen on her way here:

Doha is half way to anywhere.

Which, coincidentally, makes it a great place to stop off and spend your money!

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