My 5: Doha, Qatar.

Iranian Market Souq Waqif Doha Qatar

1. Iranian Souq/Souq Waqif, July 2001. I arrived in Doha in the summer of 2001, without a clue as to what I would do there. Those first weeks were spent wandering about the city, with regular visits to the corniche, City Center Mall and the Iranian Souq. The locals were friendly and largely unobtrusive in their attempts to attract my business. Many shop owners were happy to be photographed, like this old spice merchant and his Indian assistant.

2 Qatar Desert, Aug 2001

2. Qatar Desert Safari, Aug 2001. One of the highlights of my time in Doha came with this trip out to the desert in a 4×4. Led by a highly skilled local driver/guide, we negotiated the dunes at high speed before being dropped off at the inland sea for a swim and breathtaking views of Saudi Arabia from across the water. Later, as our guide cooked up a freshly caught fish dinner, I was treated to this private-performance-desert- sunset.

3. Khalifa Stadium, September 2001. Qatar never had a hope of qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. But that didn’t stop my friend Scott and I from cheering them on for two of their home fixtures at Khalifa Stadium. Surrounded by buoyant locals, we took in Qatar’s 1-1 home draw against China and the 2-2 tie with Uzbekistan, a valiant performance that cruelly resulted in their elimination.

3 With Abdul

4. Abdul’s house, October 2001. I befriended Abdul while taking my TEFL course (Teaching English as a foreign language) at The British Council. A colourful and often unpredictable character, this photo was taken during a movie night at his place. We were in the middle of watching Pulp Fiction when he hit the pause button and disappeared from view in a cloud of excitement. Returning a few minutes later, he carried with him a pair of samurai swords, his reaction to the Bruce-Willis-deals-with-Zed scene.

5 With Elementary students

5. T.L.I. (The Language Institute), January 2002. Having been given the green light to “go forth and teach”, I quickly secured an evening job at T.L.I., a run down little institute in the city centre. Incredibly challenging, frequently stressful but always entertaining, my first teaching gig proved to be a steep learning curve.

For more on my adventures in Doha, have a leaf through my short story series:

 The Qatar Collection.

You can also check out My 5 on Dubai.

Leighton Literature travel reports short stories travel blogger

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Freelance travel writer, voice over and English teacher from London. Former music and film journalist, interviewer of the stars. Passionate about travel, film, music, football, Indian food.

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