Author Archives: apivija


As most of you may know, alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and you cannot get it in Qatar except in hotels that cater to foreigners or at special licensed restaurants.

Fruit juice is a common aperitif here, and obviously soda is popular, but it doesn’t stop there – they also have an extremely wide range of non-alcoholic beverages.  Here is the aisle at Carrefour showing all the brands.  I had to take it surreptitiously, so is doesn’t show all the details I would like, but it does give you an idea of the scale and wide array of options. (The very top row is Pepsi, but everything else is mocktails.)

No O’Doul’s (nothing that approximates a “beer” or alcoholic flavor), but loads of things that approximate a Bacardi Breezer.  Here are just some of the brands represented: Barbican, Cadé, Efes, Fayrouz, Freez, Holsten, Laziza, Moussy, Proud (the labels reflect the cultural origin of the name – “Holsten” is very German beerhall, and “Cadé” is elegant French minimalism)… and here are some of the flavors represented: apple, kiwi, lemon mint, lime, mango, peach, pineapple, pomegranate, raspberry, “regular” (whatever that is), strawberry, and my personal favorite – the name alone inspired me to try this one – “green cocktail”.  (Turns out to be an appletini without the “tini”, the color alone should’ve clued me in.)

You can even get these drinks at Starbucks and the like.  So while there is no alcohol, some enterprising business(es) decided to fill that void with a non-alcoholic parallel, and rake in the dough. Fascinating.



The place where I study Arabic, Al Fanar, also offers cultural programming to the community as part of its mission. One Friday during my stay in Doha, I went with them on an “Islam in Katara” tour, which consisted of seeing the scale model of what Katara should look like when it’s finished (it’s unbelievable, in a good way), attending an informal lecture on Islam in the Katara mosque (the Imam sang the call to prayer for us and recited the 1st chapter of the Qu’ran, and another man gave a “how to pray” lesson to some of the guys), and eating a traditional dinner back at Al Fanar.  Here are some shots from that day, many of the mosque itself. The scale model was off limits due to “trade secrets” or I would gladly share a visual.

Construction walls covered in “carpets”

Katara dovecote


Golden mosque (mosaic walls)

Traditional mosque we toured


Arabic in the darndest places

Ok, ok – obviously everything includes Arabic, because products tend to list everything in Arabic or bilingually, BUT there are still some places I’ve seen it that inspire that “Oh! Yeah, duh…” reaction in me.  Here are a few examples.

Side-view mirror on car

Ghina’s computer files

Yogurt lid

On facade of tiny architectural model for new building in Doha

And here is one place that is not really surprising to me, but still gives me a little frisson of delight.

Cell phone

QU male campus tour

This post is to give API’s future male students a tour of some campus hot spots. Qatar University has a way more impressive tour here, but I always like to add my two photographic cents (or dirhams, in this case…)

Qatar University entrance

Entrance gate details


College of Business & Economics

Male Student Activities Building

Campus is expanding a lot – here are a couple of construction shots.

You can also see more photos of the rest of campus on my Flickr page.

QU female campus tour

This post is to give API’s future female students a tour of some campus hot spots. Qatar University has a way more impressive tour here, but I always like to add my two photographic cents (or dirhams, in this case…)

Qatar University main entrance
(The shuttle from housing enters here, but there is also another separate entrance gate for the female campus.)

Entrance gate details

Female campus signpost


College of Arts & Sciences building (lots of classes held here)

Female Student Activities Building


You can also see more photos of the rest of campus on my Flickr page.

The Museum of Islamic Art, II

Some of you may remember that I launched this blog with a copy of my final presentation from my Arabic II class, which focused on the Museum of Islamic Art. Since then I have been a few times, to enjoy the building as well as its collections.  Here are some shots of the building.



And here are a few special items from the collections.

Antique wood-inlay doors

Bejeweled “huqqa” (hookah!) with gold, lapis, rubies…


Illuminated manuscript

Al Fanar, II

My last post on Al Fanar was about getting into my Arabic language class – this one will just focus on their building and organization. Here’s the building from the outside.

When you enter the main hall, they have this large etched glass photo mosaic on the wall.

Each tile of it is made up of photos of the community.

Then they have a calligraphy exhibit in the foyer.

Here are some close-ups of the brass details on the cabinets.

They also have some art on display. I’m guessing this changes from time to time, but when I was there they had this lovely laser-cut metal sculpture of calligraphy.

In the main welcoming area, the walls are covered in posters that explain different things about Islam. They are pretty much identical to everything in this booklet.

They have many free publications available at the center and online which focus on presenting Islam to the public, not just the religious precepts, but also Islam’s influence on certain aspects of society throughout history – science, technology, etc. – and Islam’s beliefs about different concepts – women’s rights, human rights, the environment, etc.

Here was a little “duh!” moment for me. I know many words beginning in “al” come from Arabic, but what that means in practical terms sometimes doesn’t connect until put right in front of my face, like on this timeline of Arabic “inventions”.

This is my class textbook. I’m showing it here more for the design aspects – it’s definitely the prettiest book I’ve ever used in a class. The lesson title pages (16, 27, 36, 43, 52, etc.) are actually color printing on frosted vellum in the hard copy, I want to frame them all…and then the facing pages have tile designs.  In the hard copy, the book uses paper from the whole color spectrum, so the first few lessons are a pastel yellow, then green…blue…violet…pink…red.  The whole book is just visually lovely, content aside.

They also gave us a folder in the gift bag they shared during the “Islam in Katara” tour – photos don’t do it full justice, but here’s what it looks like, just to give you an idea.

Would that all paper products in life had this careful, precise attention to detail. : )