“Welcome aboard this Qatar Airways bound to Doha International airport.

Estimated flight time is 42 minutes…” those were the first few words marking our “Qatar experience”. There we were, Oasis magazine, en route to Doha with an itinerary revolving around the inaugural of MATHAF: the first Arab Museum of Modern Art (covered in Issue 14) – dubbed by the Economist “A Smithsonian in the sand”.

Although a lot of us are quite frequenters of the Riyadh/Shargia-Bahrain route, destination Doha was our first attempt albeit a similar proximity. With Qatar winning the World cup bid only a few weeks earlier, its sovereign wealth fund acquiring major landmarks in the UK (and worldwide for that matter), and leaping ahead in the worlds of Islamic finance, media, culture and the arts (home to premier media outlet “AlJazeera” and against a backdrop of renowned film festivals and new museums with landmark architecture) we were surely bound for an intriguing journey.

Khalifa - Oasis 15

As we made our descent to Doha, we tried to trace the outskirts of the city which were barely visible amidst the sandstorm – a milder version of the one we left 40 minutes ago. The airport was an easy trip; we were in, out and hotel bound in less than an hour. Doha had a welcoming feel and we were particularly impressed by the city’s vibe. In the words of the Guardian’s Robert Yates “To arrive in Qatar, then, especially from a deflated west, is to feel yourself immersed in a place that wants to Go Somewhere or Be Something, and to do so very quickly.”

Apart from substantial amounts of oil, Qatar is the world’s largest supplier of liquefied natural gas and has the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves – all for a population of only 1.5 million of which 85% are foreigners! The progressive leadership’s strategy in investing the country’s wealth in its people was apparent in the quality of people we met and the conversations we had. Qatari citizens have the option of studying abroad at the state’s expense and Education City, a flagship project of the Qatar Foundation. With links to various International universities, it aims to provide world-class teaching and be a centre of educational excellence in Qatar and the region. The Education City also serves as a forum where universities share research and forge relationships with businesses and institutions in public and private sectors.

Khalifa al-Misnad, a lawyer by profession, an avid Qatari entrepreneur and a talented photographer (among other things), is our example of the ‘Doha vibe’ personified. Khalifa is very much an upbeat enthusiastically
infectious person, and on a day to day basis, you could easily find him juggling his real estate business COREO (www.mycoreo.com), which has now branched off into Bahrain, a transportation venture by the name of YALLA, and working on setting up his own law firm (www.almisnad-rifaat.com). He is also an active founder of Qatar’s Global Entrepreneurial Organization (EO) chapter- an exclusive global entrepreneurs network that brings together young, like minded entrepreneurs to share ideas with one another to better themselves, their careers, and their communities.

But those are only the framed “images”. You may virtually dip into Khalifa’s talents at www.khalifaalmisnad.com, an amazing array of shots from across the globe. In times when mobile uploads and even digital photography have become the norm (and as easy as click and upload), Khalifa’s shots are captivating and distinct in truly capturing the essence of his objects. A self taught, family inspired ‘photographer’, Khalifa’s photos have a unique composition and a heartwarming use of light. We were in awe when we first looked at the photo below of the dhows docked by the Islamic Museum and thought we’d share with you a lovely impression of Doha through the lens of the talented Khalifa Al-Misnad.