Diaries of a World Cup reporter: Five observations from Qatar

QatarStation Daniel Oduro (in red) is covering the 2022 World Cup for GhanaWeb

Sat, 26 Nov 2022 Source: Daniel Oduro

It’s a few minutes past 9 am here in Doha, Qatar. I have finally pulled myself out of bed even though I have been awake for the last 3 hours prior. I am sitting on the balcony of this beautiful apartment, deep in thought and reflecting on Ghana’s first game against Portugal and how a point from it would have been so good for the Black Stars. But we live to fight another day.

Anyways, the sun is up and it is a beautiful morning. The sky is blue and clear but my sleep pattern has been distorted since I arrived here. The nature of the work means you are sleeping very late and waking up early but that is always the case during major tournaments, it is not a vacation.

It gets better with time though. The adjustment can be tough and rough. You need to learn the currency, the bus routes, the metro and subway or train station as well as the food joints and all that. Amid all that chaos of adjusting, you need to file your stories and meet deadlines. Am I whining? I hope not, because the World Cup is the best football festival in the world and I hope that any aspiring or young sports journalist and avid football fan gets to experience it once in their lives. It is pure bliss.

Enough of the preamble. Let me now tell you what I have observed since I arrived here about four days ago. Four days surely isn’t enough for me to make any definitive statement about any country but it is enough to learn a few things. So here goes some of my observations in Doha, Qatar.

A clean, well-planned city

I think this jumps right at you immediately you arrive in the country. It is a beautiful country. The clean streets, the wide roads, the greenery and the general landscaping are all symptomatic of a proper, well-planned city and country. Only last night, I was telling a colleague how I have hardly heard any vehicles honking even though there are so many vehicles in town. No one is hawking in the streets, no wares are displayed on the pedestrian walkway, and the bike lanes are functional. These are basic things or so you would think. But if you are from where I am from, you get the drift, right? Yeah.

Qatar has a feel of Morocco and Dubia though. I spent some days in Rabat, Morroco and there were times here in Qatar that made me feel I was still in Morocco. The architecture is solid and there is proper use of land space. I am sure Qatar has its unique problems but from the outside looking in, it looks clean, beautiful and well-planned.

A lot of foreigners

One of these days, I may have to ask someone to show me a real Qatari because it appears you can’t see them in town. One of my colleagues said it is because the real Qataris don’t work ( don’t know if this is true) but most of the workers I see are either Africans or folks from India, Pakistan and other Asian nationals. The malls, the train stations, and the barbershops are all manned by foreigners. I am not in any way saying it is a bad thing but it was quite an observation.

An expensive city

You know the tendency of trying to convert the cost of every item into your local currency before making a purchase? Right. I still do it even though it will not necessarily stop me from buying the item if I really need it.

For $100 at the forex exchange here you get 365 Qatari Riyal which in Ghana cedis is about GHS 1400 -1500.

So let me give you an example, the bread my colleague bought the other time was 10 Riyal. In Dollars that is about $3 but in Ghana cedis that is about 40 cedis. Right now in Ghana, we are screaming about the cost of bread which has jumped to 20-25 cedis.

Another example. During Ghana's game against Portugal, this other colleague of mine bought a small bottle of water for 10 Riyal which is also about 40 cedis in Ghana.

The KFC I bought the last time was 26 Riyal. In Ghana, that is equivalent to 100 cedis.

And oh, I had to buy a local sim since there is no internet at our apartment and the cheapest package available to fans for the period of the World Cup is $20 and it lasts for only 7 DAYS. That converts to over GH 300 in 7 DAYS. I am going to send my company's accountant a message (laughs).

Where I come from, this is no joke. Lol.

Do they ever sleep?

This one really surprised me, well if you happen to come from where I come from. I mean how is this city so alive at 3 am? Why are there so many vehicles and shops opened at 2 to 3 am? Wow. The train station closes at 3am but that does not signify the end of the day. After the Ghana vs Portugal game, I went to town with some friends and while returning to the apartment at 1 am we saw a laundry shop opened, more surprising was seeing customers there at the time. That won’t happen in my country.

Have restrictions been relaxed for the World Cup

Two perceptions have gained ground regarding Qatar and its culture when it comes to its hosting of the World Cup. They have been projected to not tolerate the public display of affection and also the drinking of alcohol. However, I have seen those things on full display in the last few days I have been here. One was at a KFC branch in Al Saad where I saw a man and a woman openly show affection albeit they didn't look like locals.

The Portugues also had a field day with alcohol after their victory over Ghana. Maybe the rules have been relaxed due to the influx of foreigners or maybe it is not as deep as we have been made to believe.

All views shared here will be mine and will in no way represent the views of GhanaWeb or any of its affiliates.

Daniel Oduro

Doha, Qatar

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Source: Daniel Oduro
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