Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Opening Ceremony, Asian Football Cup, Qatar ©Sue Pownall 2011

Poor neglected blog, left alone while my art blog gets all the time and attention. Sorry, but in order to reach this year's goals that is how it has to be. However, a quick catch up on what has been happening. 
©Sue Pownall 2011
Where to start? January I guess.

First up were two trips the Asian Cup football as a colleague had spare tickets. Despite the madness of the badly organised entrance procedures, we were seated in time for the opening ceremony. It was impressive, see photos above and left, which is more than can be said about the opening match between Qatar and Uzbekistan. A few days later, we went to see Australia play the Korean Republic, which was more interesting, but I enjoyed watching the crowds more than the match.

Vamos! ©Sue Pownall 2011
Later in the month, there was another visit to the tennis. First off was the ATP quarter finals and I watched Nadal, who was fantastic, as always. Next up was Federer who walked all over his opponent. Then I went to Nadal's double match on court 1 - like an outer court at Wimbledon. I sat in the front row, so close you could almost touch him, and could really see his awesome tennis skills that make him the World's No. 1. By 9pm the temperature had dropped to 19c and us softies used to the winter warmth then shivered until 11.15 as the doubles was played and the temp dropped a couple more degrees. Nadal's partner Marc Lopez and his opponents, Gabashvili and Schreiber, all played well, but Nadal OUTSTANDING! 

Closing ceremony of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final 2011©Sue Pownall 2011
Then, on the Saturday afternoon, I was sat at home and a colleague knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to got to the final as he couldn't use his ticket... Did I want to go???? Hell yes. Mad panic to change, grab handbag and then a taxi. I arrived just moments after the stands opened and secured myself a great seat second row back from the railing in the upper tier. Unfortunately, Nadal had been knocked out in the semis the day before, so the final was Federal V Davydenko. They both played well, although Federer dominated the first set, but in the second set his play went up a notch and he was absolutely awesome to watch, and consequently won. Afterwards there was a terrific closing ceremony, lasers, music, the works, very different from the opening for the footie, which was masses of fireworks.

The city from the golf course
Beginning of February saw more sport as  I went to the Qatar Masters golf tournament. I am not really interested in golf, but it was a good opportunity to get outside and see some greenery; perfect weather around 25c. A friend got me into the Al Jazeera hospitality suite where we had a terrific lunch before a short wander around until we found the beer tent. It's a hard life at times!

The month finished with a day trip to a Qatari farm, which is very different from farm life in Europe. It was more like a small holding without a veggie patch; just a heifer and her calf, a herd of goats, some chickens & pigeons, but nothing growing apart from a few bushes and trees. I think the photo speaks for itself. btw the electric pylons are because Qatar survives due to its oil and gas.
Qatari farm with desert scenery behind.©Sue Pownall 2011
On a side note, my friend B was caught up in the dreadful events in Libya and it was very worrying not knowing if she was all right or not, luckily she got out via Egypt. Her first-hand account is written on A Million Miles from Pigeon Street.

At the Pearl  ©Sue Pownall 2011
Beginning of March, I went to a talk by the contemporary Beiruti, Lamia Joreige, who produces interesting installations using a lot of film, objects and social history in the form of recorded memories and photos. Whilst a week later, I attended a gathering for International Women's Day, which was held at the Pearl, and we were in the paper the next day. 

Storm over Raouche ©Sue Pownall 2011
Waiting to cross in the rain
Mid-March, two friends and I  ran away to Beirut for a couple of nights. It was cold and rained, hard, but so good to be in a free society. I really don't notice the limitations here in Doha much, but you can really see, sense, and feel the freedom of Lebanon- despite all its problems. We went out for some lovely meals, visited pubs and clubs, getting to see a fabulous live band, and even managed to do some sightseeing too. Maybe I should live there next? Didn't I say that after my visit in August '09?

After returning, the following evening, I went to a talk by the TED award speaker, Professor Karen Armstrong. The talk was very interesting on her interpretation of the interconnections between the religions, but she did over emphasise, at least for me, her TED prize wish of a Charter for Compassion. Still, I think I will buy her latest book.

Finally, like many people, I have been sick this month, but last weekend I got out and finally walked the 5.1k along Doha's Corniche. It was important to do it soon as the temperature has started to rise already and the summer heat will soon be upon us. I was not alone in enjoying the day there as families, friends, young and old, were all seen out enjoying themselves.
Think ©Sue Pownall 2011