As if Qatar hadn’t done enough to upset me, today it well and truly rained on my parade. I was planning to meet up with friends I had met in Kuwait tomorrow in Dubai, and when I rang the SAPTCO bus office they told me that the bus left at 6pm.
Good stuff! I packed up my things and headed into Doha city centre, there to meet Tracy who I should have been CouchSurfing with last night. We grabbed some lunch in a Thai restaurant and nattered about living in Qatar. Originally from Vancouver in Canada, Tracy’s been here for two years. It seems that Qatar suffers from many of the same problems as Kuwait – spoilt, lazy rich kids, dangerous drivers and an almost unbelievably stratified society.
But, you know, in the greater scheme of things these are minor quibbles. The governments here really do look after their people very, very well – in a way that African governments just wouldn’t understand. Free hospitals, schools, roads, sewers, street lights, development, enterprise grants, allowances, pensions, unemployment benefits… go try to explain what these things are to Ali Bongo of Gabon and he’ll probably chase you up a tree and set fire to it.
But the guys in charge here could, if they wanted to, pull an Ali Bongo. Or a Nigeria. Or an Angola – rich rich rich oil states, but 100% of the money that could go to building a better society and a brighter future for their citizens is stolen and squirreled away in Swiss bank accounts. Here, things are very different, and I for one salute the Gulf’s governments for looking after their own people.
Of course, it’s not a rosy garden – at any one time there are about 400 Filipino housemaids in the Filipino embassy in Kuwait desperate to go home after being abused or raped or locked in the house for months while the family goes on holiday (seriously). The attitude of the locals towards the ‘lower’ immigrants (Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis etc) would make Nick Griffin blush.
But, you know, you live in hope. Maybe one day attitudes will change and the little Princes and Princesses of the Gulf will learn a little bit of humility and the fact that what goes around, comes around.
After lunch I thanked Tracy and apologised for last night’s cock-up. I then darted over to the bus office (next to the Guest Palace Hotel, pop-pickers!) to get my ticket for tonights bus… only to discover that tonight’s bus back into Saudi (you have to dip in and out of Saudi to get to the UAE) was last night’s bus that’s still stuck at the border.
Again, I wasn’t going anywhere.
Tracy graciously allowed me to stay at her’s for the night and that evening we made a beeline for the Irish Pub – yes, there’s ALWAYS an Irish Pub! I’ve got to say I never thought I’d be dancing to YMCA in Arabia with a pint of Stella in my grubby mitts.