Not only did we get a special holiday on Thursday but Friday had parades and fireworks and various entertainments. We ventured forth even though the forecast was for rain. Yes...rain. Please let me make this clear - they haven't had rain all year. In fact they haven't had rain worthy of the name for THREE years! That's right - no rain, no rain, no rain! They've been praying for rain... and the Purdys arrived in their country. In our first week here it rained for three days - heavy falls too. Meant surface flooding and much rejoicing and people everywhere talking about the downpour that was on a biblical proportion.
I read the forecast this morning in The Gulf Times and didn't quite believe it. Sun and fair skies coming over from Saudi Arabia meant that even when we saw dark clouds and thunder over downtown Doha we didn't really think it would rain. But rain it did!! And we got caught in it. Of course!
Still we had a pleasant walk around the corniche (before the rain) and even managed to discover a herd of camels (I think a clutch of camels is called a herd) in the middle of the rain. Here is the visual evidence of the rain, some of the military parade, the crowds, the camels and more.
Many of the cars and all terrain vehicles (the local symbol of status) were specially decorated with images of the Emir and Qatar national flags. Petrol is cheap as chips in these parts (about $NZ12 to fill up the 4x4) so they drove around all day tooting horns and waving flags.
We watched for ages while all sorts of tanks and things went around this roundabout - by the time I got my camera organised it was the tail end of the line. All of the vehicles tore around the road like they were in the Indy 500. And yes that's real grass - although it's very springy and moss like.
It had only been raining for about 15 minutes when I took this from my vantage point huddled under a tree in the centre aisle that we'd become marooned on. I reminded Jade about One Tree Hill (only Samantha, Adam and Keegan will get that reference).
Finally...it must be a camel.