The very first thing that Rich made me do after he had shown me around the flat when I arrived last week was sit down in front of the TV. We have our very own television channel on the island where we live called 'The Pearl Qatar TV' which plays an advertisement on an endless loop, and he couldn't wait to show me it. Cheesy music plays while the camera pans across families having fun in the sun; enjoying the shops, restaurants and beaches; taking a yacht to their million pound villa and diving into a perfect looking pool...it's sickening but fairly addictive to watch (don't ask R how many times he has sat in front of this thing!).
Despite being vomit-inducing, the VT had the desired effect, and I couldn't wait to get exploring our new desert island home.
The Pearl is a man-made island, so-called because it is built on one of Qatar's former pearl-diving sites (once the country's major income before the country struck oil). It is an upmarket place, with high end designer boutiques and Ferraris around every corner, and is marketed as the Arab Riviera (I know, dahling!). When completed, the island will resemble a string of Pearls, will house approximately 45,000 of Doha's residents and create over 35 km of new coastline. For now though, it is a fairly quiet, and yet pretty exciting place to live.
The main part of the island is called Porto Arabia, and it's shaped like a horseshoe with a marina full of yachts in the middle.
Here's an aerial mock-up I stole from the internet to give you a better view of what it will look like when complete.
On our first full day in the new flat, we walked to the opposite tip of the island from where we live and found ourselves on Nikki Beach as the sun set over the city.
In between mini explorations like this, Rich and I have been making the most of the countless eateries the island has to offer. We had been pretty excited when we first came to look around back in September because the island has a Cafe Vergnano, a coffee shop we used to frequent in Waterloo quite a lot when we were first dating. Fate?!
We must have been here for a drink and to make use of their wifi at least 10 times since I arrived...I might turn into a Choccolino if we keep this up for much longer.
Other favourites so far include Caribou which has great graffitti and does amazing Oreo Snowdrifts and Bonfire Mochas.
The Armani Caffe for its plushness.
& Elevation Burger, which manages to combine mouth-watering burgers with a pretty good CSR policy, which makes them winners in my book!
The slight downside is that there has been a ban on alcohol on the island since the end of 2011, so enjoying a nice glass of red with your meal is not an option. We have to keep reminding ourselves that access to alcohol is a privilege and not a right out here! It remains to be seen though whether the ban will be lifted as the country gets ever closer to hosting the World Cup in 2022.
The other great thing about this place is the range of exciting events held here. The other day we were walking round one end of the island when we saw crowds gathering at the water's edge and a sound system blaring out music and excited commentary. Intrigued, we went to investigate and found that the Flyboard World Championships were being held right there and then on our doorstep. Never heard of Flyboarding before? Nope, nor had I before this week. What a crazy-exciting sport - these guys seem to have absolutely no fear!
The winner was a Thai guy, and from what we can gather he won because he managed to stay in the air for the longest and do the most flips...or something. Either way, it was a spectacle to watch.
Someone once told me that it's really important to do something new and exciting every day.
Watch out for Rich and me in the World Flyboard Championships 2014.