Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and a Muslim Pakistani expatriate

To be or not to be is no more a relevant question for Pakistan. The current Middle East crisis has left us with no choice but to ask what to be precisely and whose side to take. Pakistani expatriates living in Qatar are fraught with uncertainty and doubt especially now that Saudi Arabia has vowed to impose sanctions on its wealthy neighbour. The situation is as dubious for a common man as is for the government of Pakistan since our relations with each of the countries were never foreseen to mount a seesaw.

Although the future has just become a lot more uncertain owing to the emerging Qatar-Saudi Arabia crisis, yet what we have with us most safely secured are the indelible memories that some of us have made. Some cannot be described, like the difference in the breeze that blows in Doha and Jeddah. Others can be narrated, like the extent of cleanliness and attitude of each country’s denizens.

Being an expat myself, I have enough tales to tell, but what gives this experience an interesting angle is the year 2015. It was in this year that I travelled to Makkah and Madinah by road from Doha, a journey which presently can only be dreamt of by several Muslims living in Qatar. But let’s deal with all the things in sequence.

Orry the Oryx Statue placed on the Corniche, the seaside promenade in downtown Doha.
Same beach, different side.
SouqWaqif, founded at least century ago, is home to several restaurants and Shisha lounges.
Just a mosque.
Another one…
The inside of the Villaggio Mall, a shopping plaza near the Aspire Tower.
It is Villaggio Mall again!
West Bay, Doha

With the area of Hejaz are attached our sentiments because it is on this land that the holiest mosques of Islam along with several sacred religious sites are situated. Hence I made a journey to Saudi Arabia to perform the minor pilgrimage, Umrah.

The Holy Kaaba situated in the middle of the Grand Mosque, Makkah.
Masjid-e-Nabwi (SAW), Madinah.
Inside of the Prophet’s Mosque.
The birthplace of the Prophet (PBUH), now turned into a library, situated in Makkah.
The Clock Tower near the Grand Mosque, Makkah.
Entrance of the Cave of Hira.
Makkah as seen from the Cave of Hira.

But on my way up to the cave…

…this was a common sight!

The lighter moments…
And the melted roads of Madinah tell about the city’s temperature.
Two cats sleeping outside Masjid-e-Ayesha. Whites are definitely not superior to blacks!
  • All photos by the author

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