Friday, July 22, 2005


I had a fender bender today. I was looking for a parking space at Hamad Hospital, which is notoriously short on spaces to park (isn’t all of Doha these days?).

I was in a row of cars on the fourth level of the parking garage, searching for a space, when suddenly I saw on my left that a big Toyota Land Crusier was backing out and was headed straight for my door. I didn’t have time to think, I just reacted. I threw it into reverse to avoid certain injury when thump! I hit a car I couldn’t see that was waiting behind me!

I jumped out, totally expecting what in my culture would have been a normal reaction; for the guy to be angry, to say how stupid and careless I was, blah blah blah. Of course, he would demand my name, number and insurance information so that I would pay for his fender’s repairs.

This Qatari man’s actual behavior totally shocked me. Instead of yelling at me, he asked if I was ok, then refused to take my information. I pressed the point, insisting on exchanging insurance information, contact numbers etc. He refused.

Now, even the "kindest" American back in the States would insist on getting my insurance and contact information. Most likely, they would also try to sue me for (fabricated) "whiplash injuries" or "pain and suffering," or whatever else they and their lawyer could conjure up to convince the court that they deserve money out of me.

But what does the Qatari man do? He tells me “Halas, it’s finished. Your car’s damage is much worse than mine,” and politely excuses himself, blesses me (it’s a muslim courtesy to say “may the peace of God be with you,” a courtesy that I couldn’t believe he was granting me after I had just smashed his fender!!!!!), and drives away! Alhumdulillah!

The Qataris, both men and women, never cease to impress me by their kindness, graciousness, and generally impeccable adab (“manners”). This was just one example of Qatari mercy.

Mashallah, what a wonderful nation of people to have the opportunity to live and work with.

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