Aqua park Doha was the chosen location for this week’s family day out. The long awaited outdoor water park opened in Qatar last September and has been the focus of much discussion, in our house and among the expat community in general. With family activity being limited in Qatar, the water park was welcomed with open arms and expectations were high, that was the first mistake.
The second mistake came on the morn of the hugely anticipated visit when I started to search online for the Aqua park website, only to eventually find a landing page with “website under construction”, no opening times, prices or map. The pressure rose as it was Saturday, the only expat day at the water park. This enabled the Qataris to enjoy every other day and be saved from the Allah-may-care ways, of the fun-loving bikini-wearing nations, the segregation was working well.
All too aware of the two sets of bored eyes, that bored into mine, searching for the final judgment on the likelihood of the trip, I decided to take to the highways and dirt tracks of Doha to try to find this oasis midst the desert. Having a general idea of the direction of the park, approximately one hour later, we were walking through the entrance gates. “No Bikinis”, “No Cameras”, “No Food from outside” read the notice at the entrance gate, however it was the admission prices that really caught my eye, Adults and children were QR. 100 Special Needs people were being charged, QR 60 and Servants/Maids QR.40. So while the wayward ways of sun-worshiping westerners, wearing bikinis was not being accepted, good old discrimination was alive and kicking. Paying the entrance fee which included the QR.100 I paid for myself to take the liberty of sitting in a basic cafeteria for hours while the rest of the family got their thrills on the slides and chutes, I wondered if I would be eligible for the QR.40 entrance fee allocated to maids. For the most part, there was no difference between myself and the maids, we both walked five paces after the families we cared for. We both pushed pushchairs and carried baby changing bags, swimming bags etc. neither of us were going to receive any personal pleasure from the day and yet I was being charged more, I felt stung.
The water park itself was fairly standard as water parks go. The atmosphere was subdued, accentuated by the conservative dress of the non-Qatari Arab patriots, who dampened their birkinis in the chilled waters, a far cry from the excited screams that would be heard at the Water parks across Spain and Portugal. Overall it was surprisingly quiet, no speakers blaring out the Macarena or riling the children with introductions for the next wave, in the wave pool, but then again toasting ones children in the 50°c plus temperatures isn’t everyone’s idea of a good way to spend the day.
- Hanging out in the poorly air conditioned cafeteria with baby for the day was my only option, and as my behind passed numbness and entered paralysis from the tubular legged, chair I read the menu for the tenth time, I could sense mistake number three on the way, as it boasted, Coirssant, Burger Sandwiche, Happy Nuggets Meal, Hommos, Shawerma Meal and to top it all there was Kastard and Jeloo for dessert. Gingerly making my way to the counter, I ordered our meals, not before I apologized to the female food server for interrupting hers, she kindly took her hand and from under her face, stood up and placing her plastic bowl of noodles to one side, she proceeded to prepare my order. Sitting behind a table of lifeguards on their break, we were grateful that the a/c was blowing their cigarette smoke in the opposite direction, so we could enjoy our fried fancies in comfort. It was when I made my way to the till to pay for our food, that my ship came in, instead of charging me, she said, “for you, no charge, maids and servants eat for free”. Recognition at last!