Not so with Qatar. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe because I can't quite figure this place out. Parts of Doha are as bustling and run-down as any other Middle Eastern city that I've been in (well, not quite as run-down. This IS the Gulf, after all), and there's the usual mix of native Qataris, a vast subpopulation of Indians/Pakistanis/Nepalese/Filipinos that actually run the infrastructure here, and the remaining balance of white people who are either wide-eyed tourists or seasoned expats.
(As a side note: yes, the Qatari men are dressed in crisply pressed, exquisitely white kandura. I swear every time I read a description of the long traditional robes here I gag at the constant emphasis on how crisp, and how white they are. But seriously folks, they are SO CRISP and SO WHITE. It is a laundry miracle of epic proportions and I suspect the powers of darkness are involved.)
But other parts of Doha are a mystery to me. The girls and I walked around the West Bay area (I think that's what it's called) for a few hours yesterday afternoon and it's almost as if it's a city waiting to happen. There are gorgeous buildings all around and many more under construction. We were right in the heart of everything...and yet. There was nobody else walking around. Literally nobody. Sure, the pedestrian system here has a few kinks that need to be worked out (there are not enough pedestrian crossings and too many long stretches of roads with raised medians) but it's not enough to explain why at times, this part of Doha feels like a ghost town.
Anyway. File that away and let's move on to my favorite part of Doha so far: Souq Waqif.
I think every major city in the Middle East lays claim to some form of traditional souq (market/bazaar). I have been to the ones in Damascus, Aleppo, Amman, Cairo, Alexandria, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Sharjah, and Dubai. Souq Waqif is different from any of those. Parts of it have been beautifully redone and fitted with tourist-friendly fixtures (like public bathrooms). Other parts have been left alone and remain more authentic.
In many ways, the Souq Waqif is like a kinder, gentler Middle Eastern souq. It has all the charm and ambiance of a traditional bazaar, except with clean public restrooms (I KNOW). Also - and this is both a positive and a negative - it doesn't have that evocative urine mixed with raw meat mixed with cumen smell that usually hangs in the air of any souq. So consider that in your calculations.