To the coworker who said, "they're a brutal bunch of people"; the loved one who pointed out that the Taliban may soon have an office here; the acquaintance who reminded me that, while the locals may be perfectly fine, "it's people from other parts of the Middle East you must avoid (and you won't know who they are)":
I've never felt more secure.
Bob claims it's so safe here, he could leave his briefcase on a curb, return two days later and it'd be in the same spot, undisturbed.
Sure we lock our home and car and keep our wallets tucked away. We walk in the sidewalks and stop at red lights. We don't flash money or skin. That's just common sense - and respect.
In Doha, men in dishdasha and headdress push carts full of groceries and play with giggling babies as abaya clad women shop. Women sit together, men stroll in groups, families cluster, babies laugh, cry and hug mommy's leg.
Ummas carry "hello Kitty" backpacks.
Events are filmed for television.
Soccer moms parade for their kids' schools.
Children show school pride.
There are museums, restaurants and world class stadiums.
During my morning jog I came up behind a woman in black wearing tennis shoes. She averted her eyes; I was silent. While cooling down I met her again. She stared at the pavement. What if if I offer up a good morning, I wondered.
"Sabah el khair," I said.
She smiled, wide, friendly, welcoming. "Sabah el nour," she replied.
Once you get past differences in language, dress, religion -there is, after all, a secret to getting along: