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Monday, December 11, 2006

Qatar Asian Olympic Games and the Sport City

The olympic flame in Khalifa stadium
Once again it was a grey Qatar day. If you haven't been here before, ‎you might get the wrong impression about Qatar - even confuse it with an English autumn. In fact I've ‎been told that this is the worst weather Qatar has ever had (although that is a European viewpoint - ‎Qataris normally greet rain with delight,) and I'm sure we've had the average yearly fall of seven ‎centimetres in the last two weeks.‎

Along with many other Qatari residents, we braved the rain and wentAspire academy along to Sport City today. To do ‎so we had to first park the car - the one draw back of the day. This muddy mess of a car-park was ‎obviously one designed with land cruisers in mind - if there had ever been such a thing as a design. At ‎least we had a car - there didn't appear to be any buses, and there is a chronic lack of taxis in the ‎cities. Most of my car-less friends rely on illegal private drivers to get around.‎

It was my first time within the huge complex, and parking aside, I ‎was amazed and impressed. Every building, including the mosque, seemed like an image from the future. In Aspire, a low curving building which will probably still look modern in twenty years time, we had the choice of watching wrestling, gymnastics, ‎cycling, wishu, boxing and other events. Tickets and refreshments were, as normal, ridiculously ‎cheap.

Wushu competitorAfter watching several events at Aspire, we strolled across to Khalifa stadium, ‎where we watched the running, high jumping, shot put and discus throwing. Khalifa stadium is truly impressive, ‎with arches and struts carving high above the spectators. It was cold, though, and it was hard to ‎imagine that this was the country which had punished us with almost 50 degree temperatures.‎

After watching the athletics, I wandered over to the Cultural Section. Here you can see the visual arts, ‎a display of armour by Qatar Museum (some of it very rare indeed - included elephant armour - one ‎of only two sets in the world), a philatelic exhibition and an incredible photographic exhibition.‎

As we scraped the bottom of our car on the ridiculously muddy and bumpy car park, I realised we had ‎been to one of the top sporting facilities in the world. Maybe Qatar's ambition to hold the world ‎Olympic Games are not so far-fetched after all. All they need to do now is sort out the transport - and ‎some decent parking.‎

Also see: Qatar Asian Games

Khalifa Stadium
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