Hajj

We will be away for couple of days for Hajj,the fifth pillar of Islam, a moral obligation that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.

Check back once we return with stories, experiences and feelings about Hajj.

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Brazil vs England, 14 Nov 2009

It’s probably the most awaited, anticipated football match in Qatar. Brazil vs England, 14 November 2009 at Khalifa Stadium, Doha. I am not quite sure the reason why they choose Doha. But as the local newspaper writes in its column regarding “cash vs patriotism”, money would probably be the reason. NEvertheless, Sir Alex Ferguson had lashed out FA for arranging the England – Brazil friendly in Qatar , which he ignorantly described as an “unknown country”.

Ticket has been going on sale in major shopping malls since three weeks before the match, making some rushes in its first days sale, caused by system/traffic overload of booking system, with queue up to 2-4 hours is not uncommon. Ticket is however available online. Ticket price is QR100, 150, 500, and 700.

Qatar which is very eager in hosting World Cup 2022, seems utilizing this opportunity to market itself to the world its seriousness in bidding. It is said that Fans Village will be available at Khalifa Stadium, from 3 PM, represents fans from Brazil, England, and Qatar.

Doha Khalifa Stadium

Here is the squad list for the match starting at 8.00 PM, 14 November

Brazil Squad list

Goalkeepers

Julio Cesar (Inter Milan)
Doni (AS Roma)

Defenders

Maicon (Inter Milan)
Daniel Alves (Barcelona)
Fabio Aurelio (Liverpool)
Lucio (Inter Milan)
Luisao (Benfica)
Juan (AS Roma)
Naldo (Werder Bremen)

Midfielders

Michel Bastos (Olympique Lyon)
Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos)
Elano (Galatasaray)
Julio Baptista (AS Roma)
Felipe Melo (Juventus)
Josue (VfL Wolfsburg)
Lucas (Liverpool)
Ramires (Benfica)
Alex (CSKA Moscow)
Kaka (Real Madrid)

Forwards

Robinho (Manchester City)
Luis Fabiano (Sevilla)
Nilmar (Villarreal)
Hulk (Porto)
Carlos Eduardo (Hoffenheim)

England Squad List

Squad List

Goalkeepers

Ben Foster (Manchester United)
Robert Green (West Ham)
Joe Hart (Birmingham City)

Defenders

Wayne Bridge (Manchester City)
Joleon Lescott (Manchester City)
Wes Brown (Manchester United)
Gary Cahill (Bolton)
Glen Johnson (Liverpool) – withdraw due to injury
John Terry (Chelsea)
Matthew Upson (West Ham)
Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa)

Midfielders

Gareth Barry (Manchester City)
Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham)
Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham)
Frank Lampard (Chelsea) – withdraw due to injury
James Milner (Aston Villa)
Ashley Young (Aston Villa)
Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City)

Forwards

Darren Bent (Sunderland)
Peter Crouch (Tottenham)
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

*Beckham will not appear due to prior commitments with LA GALAXY.

Ah, winter

Contrary to some popular beliefs, Qatar experiences another half of colder period during when mild winter occurs. Temperature starts dropping from October. When you can normally encounter 39 C maximum temperature in September, in October it becomes maximum 35 and minimum 23 C.

Just this morning, during my drive from Doha to Ras Laffan, I switched off the AC and let the sunroof open to allow chilly winds circulating inside my car. My car termometer recorded 21 C at 7 AM (then it must have hit below 20 at midnight).

QatarSeasonalTempAverage
Qatar Seasonal Temperature Average (data from wunderground.com)

January is believed to have been the coldest month during which temperature can drop to 7-9 C and can only reach 22 maximum. What happen during winter in qatar?

  • Many sporting events held, benefited from the colder atmosphere, such as SonyEricsson Championship, ExxonMobil Qatar Open (tennis), hydrojet race, football friendly games, MotoGP, drag race, music festival, etc.
  • Beaches, deserts and popular camping spots are flanked with residents for camping, dune bashing or BBQ
  • Time to switch off AC and turn on heater
  • Time to use your colelction of winter clothes that have been under long hibernation inside the wardrobe
  • Time to go out – sports exercise, walk, go to parks
  • Might expect rain in isolated days – uhh how I miss rain
  • Might expect fog

Family Visit Visa

What seemed difficult and scary turned out to be easy, quick and scareless. This happened when I tried to obtain a family visit visa for my brother in law. I heard bad news regarding rejected application, long queue, and hassle during visa application. This is particularly said to be true in the case of application for non-immediate relative in productive ages, and mainly male.

The process started with obtaining family relationship letter from Indonesian Embassy. To do that, you need your passport copy, ID copy, and related birth certificates to prove a true family relationship. It wasn’t taking so long. You can even wait for the letter to be prepared.

Once finished, you need to have a No Objection Certificate (NOC) (with mentioned salary) in Arabic from your company stating your intent to sponsor your family. This was quite a hassle; as I need to go back and forth thrice to company’s immigration officer. First, because the relationship is not correct (written as brother instead of brother in law), and second because of wrong nationality. Lesson learned: always check NOC for correct information, ask native Arabic speaker for proof-read.

So, with my relationship letter, NOC and other copy document (passport, RP, ID of mine and my wife), and passport copy of my brother in law, I went to the immigration office. You can go to any immigration office, in Doha (Madinat Khalifa) or Al Khor. Best practice says that Al Khor immigration office is preferred due to minimum queue, and easy approval. Another best practice says that bringing along your wife when meeting with officers are desirable as it is said increase the probability of application approved.

Al Khor Immigration Office is located at main Al Khor road, between Security Department and Fire Station. If you come from Doha you need to make U-turn at the roundabout near Al Khor Corniche. The office is just short blocks from there. Office is open from 6 AM until 12.30 PM. If you come early in the morning no queue number system used.

Ask for a visa application form and a queue number at the last right counter. Then you need to go to a typist which is outside the building, opposite cafeteria, next to electrical enclosure. Give the documents to the typist and he know what he shall do. 5QR is enough for him.

In my case, you can normal to expect that my application would be rejected as my brother in law is in productive age. However, once we stated our reason to bring him in is for hajj related issue, and I bring my wife, the friendly immigration officer seemed has no reason to reject. The officer went to “captain”, who is next to him for approval, and the captain signed the document without even asking to us. After that, we made 200 QR payment using debit card. Khalas! No more than 15 minutes in total.

With application number written on the slip given, I can now check status of visa application through MOI website. The next morning I got an sms from metrash stated that the visa is ready to deliver, meaning it is done and ready to print. What a service!

Visit visa is valid for 3 months and is for 1 month stay. I can then save and send the visa to my brother in law, or alternatively give him the application number and my Qatar ID number for self-printing.

4-riyal Lunch?

Where on the Earth (of Qatar) can you get a decent and stomach-filling lunch for 4 riyals?

– Yes you can. In QG Ras Laffan Canteen!

4 riyals is what QG charged (through salary deduction) to its employee for each lunch. That’s for senior staff. For junior staff, it’s even much less: 2.5 riyal! But if you pay peanut you’ll get monkey right? Not really. It’s a good lunch tough.

QG Ras Laffan canteen is managed by AMWAJ – a catering company. To be able to have a lunch in the canteen you can either: scan your employee badge barcode, state your staff number to receptionist, or use a coupon. If you use a coupon (contact your secretary), you will notice that Amwaj charges you QR25. So 4 riyal or 2.5 riyal lunch is a subsidized one.

Once you get in the canteen, you will see to separate buffet serving counter, then in the middle is salad and drink island and next to it is dessert and fruit table. The canteen hall is large enough to accommodate about 200 employees I think. There is a separate ladies dining room in the hall. Menu is a combination of Arabic, Indian, Continental, and sometimes Philipine cuisines. Majority of the menu is Indian, so you’ll need to get used to it. For those who are Indians, congratulation you are as happy as in your home country.

Plain rice, mutton rice, or briyani rice are almost available everyday. For westerners you can take either french fries or mashed potatoes, or grilled potatoes. For continental, there are normally pizza, noodle, or macaroni. For main dish, you can expect mutton, fish, beef,  chicken and less frequently seafood. Then you have 4 Indian dishes! available everyday.

Salad island is a good provision.At least you will have 5-6 different type of salads. Really a treat. For drinks, soft drink dispenser, three juice dispensers, bottled water, canned soft drink are available. For dessert, you will have choices of 2-3 fruits, and 3-4 dessert (at least one of them Arabian sweets or cake), and lastly ice cream.

If that’s not enough, you can take fruits or bottled water, canned drink to your office although they are strictly prohibited.

Those who are working outside QG plants or HQ building are normally served with onsite catering (I heard that in one of the satellite office (project office) the onsite catering serves Japanese cuisines to accommodate large Japanese /Korean workers in the project. The workers however can opt to go to Ras Laffan canteen for their lunch.

BTW don’t compare RL lunch with Doha lunch. Ask Doha employees why! You will be glad to work in Ras Laffan.

QG Canteen Menu
An example of daily QG Ras Laffan lunch

Al Khor or Doha?

Sometimes it’s a must but sometimes it is a choice. Difficult decision to some QG Ras Laffan-based employees who need to trade-off at some points.

Why living in Al Khor Community?

  • Living in a secure, safe, gated, well-controlled camp
  • Living with many friends nearby
  • Excellent clubs, restaurants, and recreational facilities
  • Close to Ras Laffan – 18km to RLIC Gate
  • It’s a must due to operational requirement (i.e. shift employees)
  • You don’t like shopping, malling, or clubbing as your past times
  • Living in peaceful environment, stay away from the hectic of a city
  • Your kids school at Al Khor International School
  • More saving? for less shopping?

Why not to living in Al Khor Community:

  • No shopping malls (Lulu Hypermarket is underconstruction)
  • Limited choice of amenities and services
  • Away from the center of activities in Doha (once you’re in you’ll bit lazy to go out of camp)
  • You’ll not get a club allowance QR10,000 a year
  • Your monthly allowance is deducted for QR800 a month
  • Your circle of friend is mostly QG and RG

Why living in Doha

  • Close to center of activities (i.e. you don’t need to go driving 40km just to watch an exhibition or festival or activity)
  • You’ll receive a club allowance QR10,000 per year
  • Possibility of meeting friends outside QG & RG more frequently
  • Close to malls, amenities and services
  • Boring? Just jump out to a mall or cafe in just few minutes

Why not living in Doha

  • If you live in central/southern Doha and you work in Ras Laffan, traffic will be your best friend
  • You need to travel 70km to Ras Laffan for work

Trade-off:

  • You get financial allowance but you need to be on the road 1 hour longer each day
  • Your kids school in Doha, so you need to live in Doha although working inRas Laffan.
  • You’ll get more quality time but reduced allowance and away from center of activities

So which one do you like?