Singing Sand Dunes, Camels and Falcons

A Magic Trip into Old Qatar

It was a  rainy day and the desert took on a pastel feeling like a beautiful water color painting, earthy shades in tan and green.  On a recent Doha ladies group trip a caravan of fourteen 4-wheel drive vehicles headed south from Doha, into the desert.

Offering us Sidra fruit

Our first stop was a date plantation in Zarqa. It had once been a produce farm, until the well water became too salty for irrigating the crops.  The workers at the date plantation were incredibly friendly showing us around the beautiful green date plantation and offering us delicious “Sidra” fruits fresh from the tree (A native desert tree of Qatar).

This beautiful falcon was introduced to our group

One of the highlights at the date plantation was the chance to experience holding  a falcon.  Traditionally the Sheiks would hunt in the desert, riding either horses or camels, and use falcons to bring down game birds. The contrast between the old traditions and the modern world were striking.  A handwoven Bedouin-like tent in one area and a modern mobile home with a satellite dish in another.

On our way to the camel ranch we stopped at the Singing Sand Dunes.  On a dry day the dunes hum when you run down their steep face.  Fun was had by all running, sliding and cavorting about on the dunes.  It seemed to bring out the kid in all of us.  It had been raining for a few days so we didn’t get to experience the humming, maybe next time!

"Camel Cowboy" ready to ride off into the sunset

Our last major stop was the camel ranch.  I found it exciting to see camels, outside of a zoo, for the first time.  The camels were  very large, half again the size of a horse. They were at the same time majestic and yet comical.  I found them fascinating.  A “Camel Cowboy” rode off and disappeared from view, only to return about an hour latter with an entire camel herd that had been grazing out in the desert.  Their silhouettes against the skyline were unusual and striking.  It was a privelage to visit these places and be introduced to the history and traditional hospitality of Qatar.