Monday, March 15, 2010

Bubba's Take on Doha, Qatar

Map of the Overall Region

Map of Qatar

This is a picture of the building In Doha, Qatar on which I am working, and which took me away from Liz and Lu for two weeks at the end of January.

It may not look like much, but I could go on and on about the details of the structure and highlight lots of cool features, but this would only be slightly more interesting to the typical blog reading layman then a discussion on the tax code or tort reform. My goodness, we structural ninjaneers can be dull. So in an effort to minimize dullness, I am going to try to shoehorn all of the geeky-ness into the following bulleted list. Note bulleted lists are a screaming red flag that you are reading something created by an engineer. I can hardly get through an email to Liz without including a bulleted list. Anyway…

Exhibition Hall Summary:

  • The equivalent of 5 football fields lined up end to end (with columns only at the perimeter)
  • Typical floor to ceiling height is ~40 feet
  • The building skeleton consists of ~10,000 tons of steel
  • The building is actually broken up into 4 completely separate structures in order to counteract temperature effects (extreme temperature changes could cause the building to tear itself apart and Doha experiences EXTREME temperatures)

I have attached a few “close-up” pictures of the building to get a better idea of the scale of the building. It is big...

Somethings over there felt very familiar, more familiar than they do in Europe. These specifically were the cars and the mall. Everyone drove an American style SUV. Except for the crazy round-abouts (thank god they had a driver for me), I could have been on any US highway (except the cars were newer/nicer). As for the mall, the golden arches, the Starbuck’s mermaid, and American fast food culture were prevalent. I ate more fast food in my two weeks there then I have in the entire 5 previous years (not including Chipotle and Qdoba that I occasionally eat for lunch of course…such delicious burritos could never be classified as “fast food”). Why the assault on the old GI track, you ask? I was open to trying local cuisine, but it just didn’t exist around the hotel/apartment/office where I spent 98% of my time. The mall unfortunately was near the office, and a couple of the architects and I would walk over there for lunch.

This is a picture from one of the offices in which I worked. 80% of the buildings shown are under construction, and the ones that are built are probably only 25% occupied. The mall is the long, low building in the middle-left.

One thing that was not familiar was the people. Yeah, I know. That's a shocker. People dress differently over there. The women wear veils, and the men wear dresses. But the culture was also lenient. None of the non-local women wore the veil, and jeans and t-shirts were common. Strangely enough, I never actually met a Qatari. Everyone working on the building were foreigners.

There is a reason that “middle” is included in the name of this area. I figure about 2.5 billion people live within a 4-6 hour plane ride of Doha. Compare that to the roughly 500 million whom live within a 4-6 hour plane ride of Chicago. I spent my time in the Middle East interacting with people from literally all over the world. I solved conflicts and had laughs/arguments with people from India, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Australia, England, Belgium and numerous other countries throughout Europe and Asia. It was fascinating and humbling to be somewhere very far from my comfort zone (the U.S.) and to see that the world is a vibrant, thriving place that does not need us (Americans). The experience makes me feel put in my place even as I feel happy about my sightly expanded world view.


Carrie said...

Cool- thanks for the update! Glad you had a good trip!

Lizzie said...

Way to hijack the blog with your sexy bullet points, Bubba! I would have titled this What I Did When I Left Lizzie or maybe Doha: Its Name Makes You Laugh. Ok, maybe not. Love you! xo

-R- said...