Posted on April 23, 2023
The football (real football!) World Cup kicked off on 20 November last and the final was played on Qatar National Day Public Holiday, 18 December 2022.
Qatar came in for some ferocious criticism in the international media in the lead-up, mostly from Western Europe and from the UK in particular. From someone who has lived in Qatar for almost nine years, MB can say that the vast majority of the criticisms were inaccurate and grossly exaggerated. Much of the stuff MB read online might have had some relevance in 2010 when Qatar was awarded the tournament but since that date, the governing authorities here passed a host of legislative enactments that created a far safer and more protected environment for those workers, mainly from SE Asia, that worked on the many WC related projects. Other online articles were complete fabrications MB can say with certainty.
Much was also made of the laws here relating to the gay community. A gay lifestyle is strictly forbidden here, as it is in most Muslim countries and many others. That’s not to say that MB agrees with the local laws. He doesn’t. But he comes from a different culture and doesn’t think he has any God-given right to force his values on others who disagree with his. And maybe in time and over a few generations, attitudes and laws will change. The solution promised by Qatar was, essentially, that the authorities would turn a blind eye to whatever happened behind closed doors, but just respect the local laws and customs in public, and all would be welcome. And the authorities were good to their word.
A few days before the tournament started, the authorities announced that stadiums would be alcohol-free. Having attended six matches in total and with the benefit of hindsight, MB can say that it was a good decision. There was a great friendly and fun atmosphere at the games with many young kids in attendance with their moms and dads; with the moms and dads not having to worry about boorish drunken behaviour of fans. The focus was on the games and taking selfies and having great family fun and memories for the future.
From a football perspective, the tournament was a huge success with record goal-scoring and the best WC Final in the history of the game. Messi wearing his Arabic cloak, or bisht as it’s called in the local language, will live long in the memory. The bisht received much negative publicity from the usual quarters, but to be offered to wear it is a big honour in Gulf societies. So the bisht got a big thumbs up from MB.
One unique feature of the 2022 WC was that the entire tournament was played in a single city, unlike most past WC tournaments which were be hosted by multiple cities many hours flying time apart. So going out socially during the Qatar 2022 WC meant that you were sure to bump into fans from any or all 24 countries who participated in the initial group stages. Many from outside the Middle East learned that people here are not so different than people back home and it was great to see Arabs and non-Arabs mixing and taking football and generally chit-chatting about everything and anything at the nightly entertainment and eating venues. Qatar has actually extended the WC ‘visa on arrival’ programme until end 2023 for many nationalities. We are presently in the middle of the end-of-Ramadan Eid Public Holiday period over here and the hotels are full of tourists from outside, many returning no doubt to relive some WC memories.
Eight mega-stadiums were built for the tournament. One was built fully from shipping containers and will soon be fully dismantled, if it’s not already (MB must check!). Others were built with demountable top halves, so the 40, 000 capacity will reduce to 20,000 and local clubs will take those over. Others will remain as they were built for use for major sports and entertainment events. So, all in all, the goal of a sustainable tournament was generally achieved.
There was a feeling of pride amongst locals, natives and ex-pats alike, that the tournament went off so successfully, and some sadness that the daily and nightly fun had come to an end.
The flags of the participating nations and the Hublot countdown clock:
Posted on November 4, 2022
In case anyone thinks MB is some kind of gun nut, he’s not. He would be very much on the side of strict gun control and bans on military-type weaponry if he lived in countries where such debates rage. MB appreciates that others have opposing views. And certain arguments they espouse have merit. But coming from a country that put away the guns in recent years after 800 years of it, MB can see the benefits of gunless society, more or less.
But MB digresses……………………….
Apart from the occasional usage of an old single-barrel shotgun growing up on a farm, MB was not familiar with any sort of firearms until he and a friend recently visited the newly opened gun range in Doha called ‘Al Hadaf’. It’s next to Khalifa Football Stadium or Villagio Shopping Mall, and means in English ‘The Target’. It’s a super-modern facility and has a 100M range for pistol and rifle practice. A ‘clay’ range is currently under construction and will open in a few months from now.
In addition to the range, Al Hadaf has coffee shops, a VIP lounge (de rigeure at any new facility in Qatar!), and a showroom to view lots of merchandise. Needless to say, many of the facility instructors were asking MB if his name was, by any chance, Client Eastwood. MB gave them a steely stare, and didn’t even need a ‘make my day’ statement!
So, dear HX followers, if any of you happen to be visiting Qatar for the November/December FIFA World Cup, or anytime soon, a visit to Al Hadaf is a few hours well spent, if shooting’s your cup of tea.
A few pics……………………
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Adventure, Alhadaf, Doha, MiddleEast, Qatar, Range, Shooting, Sport, Travel
Posted on March 1, 2022
On Friday morning last, in the small hours of a misty Doha morning, MB ascended silently into the blue heavens.
Much like Jesus Christ did all those years ago MB?
Well, no lads. Not at all like JC did. MB was actually standing in a steel-framed basket that was attached to a rather large balloon. It was powered by butane gas, not divine intervention.Read More
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Adventure, Air, Ballooning, Doha, Hot, Qatar, Travel
Posted on November 28, 2021
Question lads – What does MB, Satoshi Nakamoto and Don Williams have in common?Read More
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Don Williams, family, Granddaughter, Qatar, Satoshi Nakamoto, Travel
Posted on March 26, 2021
Time was, the only vaccination one thought about was that of one’s dog.
How times have changed.
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Coffee, COVID, Drive-In, Qatar, Snickers Bar, Vaccination, Vaccine
Posted on December 12, 2020
If 2020 was a giraffe, he would have no neck.
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: 2021, Adventure, Cirona, Civid, COVID, Giraffe, Happy New Year, Qatar
Posted on September 19, 2020
Thanks to Amy for the negative space challenge. Followers can view Amy’s post HERE.
As Amy explains, negative space in a photo is empty space, so to speak, around the main subject matter, allowing more focus to the main subject, and an overall feeling of calm or tranquility to the greater photo.
MB’s gone a tad lazy in recent months. No posts. No photo challenges. No nothing. Maybe MB is suffering from Corona blues? Possibly. Inspiration and inclination have been absent. For no great reason.
For many years, not a day went by without a few hits, at least, on the HX Report. Desperate people the world over (obviously says you!) landing at MB’s HX door, having searched some obscure word or phrase. And voila, their hit gets registered on MB’s blog stats. Then, on 22 August 2020, no hit. Which hit MB hard. Like a hammer!
Not really lads. The HX blog site is just a bit of craic for the self-amusement of MB. But still, no hit on 22nd August, only a few days after the Leo birthday of MB. Made MB think a little.
Maybe MB is surrounded by negative space. In a Matrix-like reality, or alter reality. He’s not sure. But he decided he needs to get back in the game. Post a few pics. Get off his ass.
So thanks to Amy for the inspirational post. Here’s MB’s effort, from 19 December 2019 at Doha Corniche:
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Adventure, Aerial Display, Doha Corniche, flight, Negative space, Planes, Qatar, Red Arrows, Travel
Posted on February 20, 2020
Thanks to Amy for the narrow challenge.
Tuesday just past was the annual Sports Day public holiday in Qatar.
MB took a spin out to the company labour accommodation complex with his camera to see what all the Indian and Nepalese workforce were getting up to. The Basketball & Volleyball attracted a lot of participation and interest but it was the tug-o’-war that had the crowd screaming from the second the ‘start’ whistle was blown. The atmosphere was crazy and reminded MB of similar events back home in summer village festivals.
Who would ever have thought that tug-o’-war could unite the world?!
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Adventure, Holiday, Qatar, Sports Day, Travel
Posted on December 6, 2019
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Adventure, Blockade, Feast of St Barbara, Independence Day, Lebanon, Qatar, Sofia and Maria, Travel
Posted on October 4, 2019
Sofia’s got a sister! Read More
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Adventure, Hope, Lebanon, Maria, Middle East, Qatar, Sofia, Travel, Trouble
Posted on August 11, 2019
Muslims the world over are celebrating the festival of Eid Al Adha in the coming days. The dates may differ slightly in different countries, as far as MB is aware, as Eid starts on the 10th day of a certain lunar month. Read More
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Doha, Eid Al Adha, Feast of Sacrifice, Qatar
Posted on May 23, 2019
On a few occasions in the past, MB has offered his blog site to friends who had something to say and needed a forum in which to say it.
In recent days, friend and work colleague Mrs Joy, from Punjab State in India, asked MB if she could use his blog site to publicise the events of the last year which were extremely traumatic for her, particularly in the earlier stages.
Joy has an appropriate name. She is one of the happiest souls one could ever meet, with a great sense of humour. She is truly a joy to meet and chat with. In India, in her younger days, she cared for street dogs and would personally intervene if ever she witnessed any cruelty to animals by anybody. That small fact alone will give readers an idea of her nature.
In June 2018, Joy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a married lady with two daughters, aged 6 and 12. Needless to say, after the initial shock of discovery, thoughts immediately turned to treatment and survival and where the best treatment might be procured. Returning to her home country of India was considered, where many very high-quality cancer treatment hospitals exist. However, on discussing the matter with various doctors and with some patients who had received treatment in Qatar, she decided to proceed with the treatment in Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) – NCCR (cancer treatment department) in Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Choosing the local option ensured that she would remain with her family, avoid the stressful disruption of moving home for a relatively long period, reduce the cost of treatment dramatically and her two daughters could continue their schooling without interruption.
Her choice turned out to be an inspired one. The treatment and care received was beyond excellent and was truly world class. Chemo treatment started in June and ended in December when the tumour had reduced to a size that enabled an operation to take place. The operation took place in February and the tumour was successfully removed. Medication and treatment continues to this day, and will hopefully ensure that there will be no reoccurrence.
Joy informed MB that the hospital staff became like her second family. She received treatment from physicians from multiple nationalities including Arabs, Irish, British and from her home country of India. At the time of the operation, she encouraged her husband to focus on looking after their two children at home, rather than spend all his time being with her at the hospital. She could tell him this only because of the comfort and security she felt in the care and company of the great family-like HMC staff.
As MB and Joy sipped cups of green tea together earlier today, it was obvious to MB that Joy’s great spirit has returned. The wigs are now long put away and her hair is returning to its normal thick voluminous self. And her great broad Indian smile is back on her face. Thank God!
By publicising her story Joy wishes firstly give a huge thanks to all the staff and management at HMC for the remarkable job they do. Secondly, Joy wishes to encourage anybody who might find themselves in the same predicament, to look first to the locally available world-class facility at HMC in Doha. Joy is one of the many living proofs that there are few better options available anywhere else in the world.
Finally, Joy has asked MB to post the below piece, written by a friend, which may be forwarded later to HMC or other local organisations or publications. MB is very happy to do so and wishes Joy lots of joy, joy and more joy, long into the future!
Joy’s contact details are included below if anybody would like to contact her directly for advice or just a friendly chat about matters medical. And please also feel free to share this post on your own social media sites.
ONE WOMAN’S BIG THANK YOU! – To the State of Qatar
On 27th June 2018, Joy Grover received the devastating news that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Joy’s world fell apart.
The day after she received the terrible diagnosis she was due to fly out to India to visit her family. Needless to say, the doctor told her she had to cancel the trip. Joy, who has two young daughters, felt she had no choice but to follow the doctor’s advice and she cancelled the trip. Joy and her husband decided not to share the awful news with many members of their family especially her father-in-law who is now in his 80’s.
Joy visited a well-respected doctor based in Qatar, who she already knew through friends and she told the doctor she was thinking of flying back to India for treatment. This decision was based on Joy being in Qatar with her husband and children but no other family available to help her through this terrible time. However, the doctor advised Joy not to do this and told her that it would be in her best interest to have the necessary treatment in Qatar as it was the best available.
Eventually, after much thought and many prayers, Joy made the decision to stay in Qatar and accept the much-needed help and treatment for her disease. A factor in this decision was also, that in her home country of India, the treatment required would come at a huge cost and in Qatar all the treatment for cancer is provided with minimal charges.
Joy and her family were able to take the much-needed trip back to India to see their family just for 10 days before the gruelling treatment began. She spent a lot of time praying and keeping her faith and strongly believes that this has helped her to get through the emotional and physical ordeal of this life-changing event.
Joy says “I want to shout out loud to everyone who lives here and say that we are blessed with world-class health services in Qatar and the wonderful facilities and treatment are second to none. From the first visit to Hamad Hospital, all the way through chemotherapy and the continuing treatment I have been receiving, it’s no wonder that Qatar was recently voted by London’s Legatum Institute as having the 5th Best Health Care Service in the World and No. 1 in the Middle East.
The staff, doctors and nurses were faultless and looked after me as one of their own, showing endless compassion and empathy, so much so that Joy did not feel she missed or needed her family around her as the nurses and staff became her family.”
Joy also added “I want to reiterate that the treatment in Qatar is second to none. Hamad Medical Corporation has invested in the best and latest technology and medicines, and everyone should feel very proud to have access to this world-class service.
Joy wanted to express these heartfelt thanks, firstly to help others in the same or a similar situation to herself, so that they can be reassured they are doing the right thing in having their treatment in Qatar. And secondly, Joy wants to thank publicly from the bottom of her heart, the State of Qatar, his Highness The Emir Sheikh Tamim and his Highness The Emir Father Sheikh Hamad for taking the decision to establish a world-class medical service that is accessible to all the residents of Qatar, and HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al Kuwari, Minister of Health for generously providing an amazing health care system and the awesome staff, doctors and nurses at Hamad Medical Corporation. Joy is also very grateful to her colleagues and ex-colleague for supporting Joy during her journey.
For more information please contact:
Mrs Joy Grover
Mobile: +974 3118 0149
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: HMC, Qatar, Qatar Living
Posted on April 20, 2019
Thanks to Amy for the Creativity challenge.
Do you know the story of the Peppered Moth dear followers?
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Creativity, Doha, Lens-Artists, Mathaf, Museum, Peppered Moth, Qatar
Posted on March 3, 2019
Architecture. Big thanks to Amy for the challenge.
The Al Shaqab horse arena in Doha, Qatar, is an architecturally-impressive mega-structure situated on the northern outskirts of the city. It features hugely impressive indoor and outdoor arenas of equal scale, which host show jumping, dressage, and other equestrian events. There is an emphasis on promoting the Arab horse breed. The below shots feature the outdoor arena FYI.
MB attended Al Shaqab for the first time yesterday afternoon to view a Swiss watch company Longines-sponsored international show jumping event, featuring over 40 horses and riders from many countries, including three from MB’s Ireland. Everybody who attended got a free USD 1,000 Longines watch to boot, which was extremely generous of the Qatar/Longines people. Longines company are producing quality watches in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, since 1832. MB just thought he would give them this little plug/mention in thanks for the awesome freebee, which should see sales hit an all-time high in the coming weeks.
MB did not have any super duper camera & zoom lenses with him. All below shots were taken on MBs Sony RX 100 M6 pocket camera.
“You’re a genius MB. How do you keep on doing it?”
“Thank you guys. Nail on the head, MB guesses. Genius.”
“And did you not take any shots with your Huawei Chinese Camera Phone thingy MB?”
“Of course MB did guys. But MB will save those for another post. Too much awesomeness could be just a little too much for followers to handle in one single post.”
“BTW guys. MB was just kidding about the free Longines watch!”
“Ha ha ha, MB. What a kidder you are!”
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Adventure, Al Shaqab, Dressage, Huawei, Longines, Qatar, Show Jumping, Sport, Swiss Watches, Travel
Posted on January 10, 2019
Did you ever hear of a ‘sin tax’ ladies?
It’s a tax on sin.
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Adventure, alcohol, Middle East, Qatar, Sin Tax, Travel
It's a mad HX world!