(Before I go any further I just like to greet and applaud R.P Bendedek for his part in reconciling my writings with some people who have different ideas. People like him have an open mind because he has traveled and lived with others, thus is ready to accommodate others beliefs and feelings.)
Among the first articles I wrote for the Magic City News was “Welcome to Qatar, wish you were here (part 1)”. I deliberately called it part 1 because I intended to follow on with the next part at the right moment, here we are now the time has come.
I just got back from the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 15th Asian games to be held in Doha, Qatar between Dec 1st to 15th 2006. The Asian Games is second to the Olympics and although the participating nations are only from Asia but I can assure it is just as great as the Olympics, since there are many Olympic athletes from Asia. So this event is international and not just Asian. Doha or should we say Qatar is buzzing with Asian games fever. We have reporters from all over the world here to cover the games, the world is focusing on Doha at the moment. Qatar is working to become the sports capital of the region. I met some reporters from the US, France, Australia, Britain and of course many Asian nations.
|Here are photos of the Main media centre set up for the international reporters.|
I, being able to speak four languages fluently and greet in around 10 others have a big advantage, especially for building bridges with many nations. As a matter off fact I met some of the reporters from R.P's (if he does not mind being called that) adopted land of China. As they got off the coach that brought them from the airport I asked them if they were from China so we know where their accommodation is and so on, after they answered in the affirmative I said to them "Ngi hao" they all answered back but then realised I was not Chinese and were so overwhelmed that they found someone in Doha, Qatar who spoke their language. So I just pointed out that I
know only a few words, just enough to make friends, like hello, thank you, how are you and Good bye. That for them was enough; they were so delighted it made their day. The same happened with a group of Japanese who were dropped off at the wrong residence and needed to be shifted their relevant residence (all media residence are 4 star with swimming pool, sauna, gym and spa). So when I arrived I noticed they were Japanese as one can differentiate between the Japanese and the Chinese. I straight away said to them "Konichiwa" and they replied and then one of them already feeling comfortable and relaxed said it is actually "Konnichiwa" and that started of a conversation too. After I drove them and dropped them off at their residence and made sure they were taken care of, I called out to them "Arigato" and "sayonara". I swear they were so happy they felt they were home from home. I also met a group of French reporters and on their way out while chatting I noticed they had French accents so I started chatting to them in French, one of the ladies was so surprised how a Brit was able to speak French like a Frenchman and also switch from one language to another without problem.
|The Reporters at the Media centre.|
I, and 14 999 others, have offered to volunteer to help organize and run the games although there are thousands of Australians, Americans, South Africans and many other nations that have been recruited to organize the Games. There is a first in everything, for these games it is the first time it will be held in an Arabian Gulf state. It is also the first time that the games attracts 15 000 volunteers of different nationalities.
|Here are some of the volunteers.|
The main aim of volunteering is to build bridges with the outside world, bridges that many I can think of like to burn. This is an opportunity of a life time, it not only puts Qatar (a small peninsula) on the map of the world, (since I am sure many did not know where Doha is and hopefully after the games they will), it also proves to the world that we Muslims can live in harmony with others (who are not hostile to us) despite the many who want to tarnish the reputation of Islam and Muslims prove that they are wrong. The hospitality here given to Muslims and non Muslims is unequaled. For those who accuse Muslims of having to kill non Muslims and behead them as part of their faith are completely wrong, as no one has beheaded any non Muslims here and many of them have been here for about 2 or 3 years preparing for the Games. Many want to stay on after the Asian games too because they have grown to like it here, the peace and security and also the tax free earnings they don't receive when they work back home. Many are being housed in Luxury villas with swimming pools and golf courses what they never had back home.
Anyway, getting back to the Games there will be 10000 athletes from 45 countries and states participating in 43 events. The Opening ceremony as I mentioned was tantalizing, the first ever in the Asian Games, the Laser lights show, the special effects and the costumes were out of this world. There was a moment where all the Asian nations appeared with their costumes and doing their traditional dance with their traditional drums. It was out of this world. The Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Indonesians, Malaysians, Koreans, etc., all in their traditional outfits beating their drums taking their places inside the Khalifah Stadium purposely built for the Doha Asian games, with its giant video screen, especially prepared for the opening and closing ceremonies like never seen before. The ceremony focused on Asian/Arab culture and history. It was infernal when approximately 500 -600 Qataris converged on the stadium holding torches, unlit in the beginning, but eventually they were lit and the young men formed the shape of the words "Peace be with you" in English and Arabic. It was magic when you see it filmed from a helicopter hovering above the Stadium and showing it live on the giant screen. What can I say I was gob smacked with such a performance, the ceremony also focused a lot on peace and harmony and my daughter and her school mates had plastic birds in their hands, in which lights shone, they too formed the word "PEACE" and seen from the air was absolutely unbelievable. The other nice moment was the Arab horsemen on Arab horse display. There were many other outstanding performances including at the end with a duet by Jose Carreras and an Arab lady singer, who I think was called Majd Rumi. What a show, for those who will attend. I almost forgot the out of the ordinary fireworks display. What we saw was just a tip of the iceberg. On the night of December 1st, the fireworks that will light up the skys of Doha like never before. Eat your heart out, Asia; the Doha games are coming.
This is going to be the games to remember and last night was a sneak preview of the fantastic opening ceremony that Qatar has in store for those present at the Games. It was to be a treat for the many thousands of volunteers who could attend but who would not otherwise be able to attend or afford the real deal. Because they wanted to keep it a surprise to the rest we were not able to bring cameras to photo the occasion. It was meant to be for our eyes only.
Unfortunately, the Magic City News does not have a reporter here but if you do have cable or satellite, and have access to some foreign channels, don't miss this for the world. If I was free and not volunteering I would have sent some news to the editor about what is happening in the Doha Asian games but unfortunately it is going to get even more busy when the sports start from December 1st. Unless someone from your Magic City can hop on a plane in the next 5 or 6 days and get to Doha and feed you in on the news of this great sporting event. If he does, send me an email and I will look out for him and make sure he get VIP treatment.
Here is the link of the official Doha 2006 website: www.doha-2006.com/.
Come to Doha for the Games of your Life, we promise you a warm welcome. Satisfaction guaranteed, I promise you will never forget Doha 2006.
|This is Orry, the Mascot.|
Time for me to don my uniform and head off to volunteer for the Doha Asian games. Being a volunteer has rewards; among other things, we get free tickets to the events. I chose men's athletics and men's basketball. Gonna be fun. Until our next encounter I greet you with the warmest greetings "Peace be with you"
Here are some more links for the Doha Asian games:
Aboo Mohammad can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.imanway.com/en