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The Colors of Qatar

  by Sam Stone

As Qatar quietly becomes a tourist destination with major civic and cultural renewals,
SAM STONE finds a city at a crossroads awash with color.




No one has ever looked happier than my wife on our third day in Qatar.

When I remember that day, sometimes I see red. That’s the color of my wife Moira’s angry face when I told her that we had to travel to Qatar for a lengthy assignment for the architectural firm I consult with. She’s a person with roots; doesn’t mind me traveling but definitely being one for two months required her to pack with me. And while I was very excited about the trip, Moira was decidedly less enthusiastic about this consulting gig in the middle of Arabia. Red is also the color of her embarrassed face when our new neighbors brought over an enormous platter heaped with rice and a whole lamb and made us tea and coffee in our temporary home.

There was one moment when this young couple—husband and wife no more than 25 years old—and both speaking nearly perfect English, integrated so well with us that we knew that Qatar would turn out to be a perfect match for our stay in a foreign land. I can’t even really describe it. Moira’s passion towards family, friends and horses puts her right at home in this traditional Middle Eastern environment. When somebody makes you feel this way, well, you remember. You always remember.

Qatari WeddingsSometimes I see brown. That’s the main color of the majestic falcon as it flies above 1,000 feet or more. From the outside, falconry seems boring. But when you allow yourself into the fascinating reflection of this Qatari heritage, you discover that the sport is transferred from generation to generation reflecting how men from this region have lived on this land and dealt with its environment in a give-and-take manner. It is said to encourage the values of chivalry, courage, patience and diligence. The falcon, too, seems bored by it all, endlessly circling for little challenges during his flight to maintain his interest. Above head, that little brown dot lingers.

Suddenly, after you flush the game from its nest, the falcon spots it. The eyes of the falcon and its prey seem to lock, and he begins his headfirst swoop (or stoop as it is called in falconry). Your adrenaline rushes, and the falcon looks like it might slam into the ground. But then as he gains steam and changes directions shortly, you think he might actually get to that thing. In a flash the falcon hits the game on the fly, binds it and then carries it to the ground. He then returns to the falconer’s glove; a bite-size reward is given. The falcon returns to the air, and the brown dot hangs up there forever.

 

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