Arabic for "hello", but it's a bit more like namaste in a sense that there is more well wishing in the meaning than a mere greeting. Doha. Wow. Where to begin. In one sentence: it's the metropolis of the next century in the works. It's what it means when a nation is so damn rich everything else that comes with monetary struggle just simply fall by the wayside. The fattest nation in the world, Qatar imports 99% of its food supplies. 100% of its fresh water come entirely from desalination plants so sophisticated it puts America to shame. Well, I suppose while we're talking about putting America to shame.. This is place is truly an architect's wet dream. Arrive at the airport and you'll likely be greeted by a Filipino immigration officer, an Indonesian bag handler, a Nigerian bus driver, Egyptian doorman, Palestinian reception, Swedish cleaner, but no where along the way do you see an actual Qatari. They are like the rare elusive bunch that only comes out in the evening and only in a few places. You will, however, see the hottest cars the world has ever created at your doorsteps. And I'm not talking Mercedes. I'm talking Veyrons, RS8, you know, the one-of-a-kinds. Most of labor work is filled by expats. There are only 1.7million Qataris. All of whom get paid handsomely just to exist. The types of problems they care about are complex and future focus. Everything from making the most out of the ridiculous amount of natural gas they have to building a future they can be proud of to robot controlled camel racing. One could call them luxury problems. You know, stuff you think about when you don't have to think about making a living. Ask a Qatari what they are most proud of, and you'll get a unanimous answer: Doha.
Of course i wouldn't know this first hand because i have yet to interact with a single Qatari so far. It's been 5 days. In some ways this is a bit expected since I'm still fully immersed in the TEDxSummit bubble. But you really can't help but feel a little weird about it. The work here has been a good pace. Like all conferences, nothing is a walk in the park. Lots of late nights and early mornings. Lots of mingling with people. Lots of putting the game face on. Not having access to cheap alcohol here is good in some ways. Given the nature of the attendees at this event (alpha extroverts with lots to prove), I can't imagine what it would be like to be a Staff among the crowd at late night drink fests. Maybe like a little lamb among a pack of wolves. There are so many oh my fucking god moments about this event. First, there's a whole operation pick up at the airport. Slick. Then you see billboards of clever campaigns all over town on the event. People of Doha can get tickets to see the opening session, held at this omfg gladiator style outdoor marble amphitheater by the Persian gulf (with back drop of the city's skyscrapers, of course). There is nothing not over the top about that. Sessions happen in these super omfg Arabian chic buildings around the theater called Katara Village. Then they put everyone in either the omfg W or the omfg Kempinski hotels. Insanely hip. The grand opening was held at the omfg iconic Museum of Islamic Arts, where they closed down the entire venue just for us. Tomorrow we shuttle 800 people into the desert. Grand to the max to the end. Omfg. You know... Somedays you live life and it's on auto pilot. Same shit different day. And once in a while you come across a day where every moment becomes the present and you can't help but catch yourself in awe of your very own life experience, right as its happening. I'm so lucky and grateful to be here right now. So lucky. So grateful.
Tonight after a super entertaining session of TED@Doha in the dome (which btw was custom built for TED- yea omfg), we all went to the party at MIA. As if that in itself was already unreal, on the way back I run into 2 colleagues who then swept me into an SUV to the souq in search of food. We meander through alleys of people shisha-ing away in every corner. Two girls get super low blood sugar, I went in to snag u identifiable street food and away we went to devour it sitting on the floor of our posh hotel room. Laughing together. Being tired together. Being worried about tomorrow together. Night cap of stolen corona and hot bath. Life is good when you work hard and mean well.
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