Doha: You Never Forget A Great Welcome

Every nation in this New Economy tries to maintain a sizeable mindshare with clients — a potential 6 billion plus market size. Tune from one channel to the other and chances are that you will see an advert giving the impresssion that a certain country deserves your attention either as a tourist, business man or visitor. South Africa is “alive with possibilities”, Dubai is your “home away from home” (and I should write about Dubai someday soon), Malaysia is “truly Asia” and Nigeria is the “heartbeat of Africa.”

I live in Nigeria and won’t need to explain why I’m convinced that its the place to be, in spite of the many imperfections that may come with the rare gem South of the Sahara. Do I need to talk about the meetings with colleagues from Kenya, United Kingdom, United States, Egypt, India and other nations who arrive the Murtala Muhammed International each day in search of the Nigerian pot of goodies? Leaving through that same airport a few hours ago, I couldn’t help wondering how much work we need to do to accommodate the inflow and outflow of people. But, it always feels so great to step out and enjoy the discovery of another land (and all that comes with it).

I arrived Qatar at about 7am local time and thanks to prior information, I though I knew what to expect. Little did I know that the pictures only told the 2-dimensional part of the story. A great sight from the skies, breath-taking airport and that warm reception! Gosh! Stepping into the airport with someone waiting to receive you (especially when your name is correctly spelt) is good enough, but when you can truly skip what is now becoming a usual tedious process — of some bespectacled old man looking through your passport as if you were guilty until proved innocent — while helping yourself to drinks that are not rationed by a wide-eyed hostess (I am convined that some are specially taught how to say no with smiles, and how not to return after taking your order).

What else could be on your mind about a new city when the extremely courteous driver plays Boney M’s “Daddy Cool”? Cool city — with the cranes telling the story of further development. It’s 9am on Friday and the beauty of the city cannot be ignored even as the gentle morning sun casts shadows of the various structures. I asked Ashraf (the driver) about an imposing structure to our left and he said, “government.” The skyline boasts of imposing structures and its very clear that someone here cares about keeping the city green.

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