Every now and then, Doha suprises me. It delivers me a little unexpected gift, like a loved one coming home with a bunch of flowers when it’s not Valentine’s Day. This happened to me once again last night.
I was invited to the Katara Ampitheatre Grand Opening. After an airport style screening process, audiences were shown to their seats which were covered in puffy white cushions and a goody bag containing a blanket and an umbrella – clearly Katara had thought of everything! And they needed to – the temperature felt alpine to us desert-dwellers. When all the VIPs were seated, we were treated to the music of Vangelis, the Greek composer of Chariots of Fire fame, played by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra who were later joined by the Yurlov Moscow State Academic Choir and Soprano, Angela Gheorghiu. The performance was enchanting and dramatic. It commanded that huge, open-aired stage. As if the musical program wasn’t enough, the MC was actor Jeremy Irons. As far as introductions go, you can’t do much better than that! It was really too beautiful. I felt so lucky to be sitting there, under the full moon, huddled together with people from all over the world, celebrating the country that is now my home.
As we left, we were served delicately crafted canapés by friendly waiters who insisted we sample each flavour of sashimi, bruschetta and pastry. It was true Doha hospitality. The generosity of this country is one of its greatest qualities. So is its ability to surprise. Events like this make me ever more certain that I made the right decision when I moved here. In Sydney I would have pined enviously to attend an event like this. In Doha, they happen every day and I don’t pine, I attend. I taste. I hear. And I am so so grateful.