Sunday, October 17, 2010

Get your motor running

What is there to do in Doha on the weekends, you might ask? This weekend was the Second Annual Qatar Bike Show.

I must admit that I was fairly disappointed when the bikers rolled up in leather chaps, boots and vests adorned with pins. Traditional Gulf headgear was replaced by Harley bandanas and helmuts decorated with skulls and demons. Half the reason I went was to see a few hiked up dishdashas and boots underneath.

Bikers rode in from a number of neighbouring GCC countries. The crowd was a sea of t-shirts and vests emblazened with "Desert Warriors", "Exile MC" and "Iron Camel Biker" replete with red and yellow flames licking the letters.

It turns out the biker scene is big here. But it is definitely its own hybrid. For all the global borders biker culture may transcend, there's no denying the stregnth of local influences.

In the outside exhibition area, Harley engines roared and bikes kept pouring in to take their place in the line up. The Costa Coffee shop was doing a booming business, overflowing with leather-clad bikers checking out the competition while sipping lattes and cappuccinos. Inside the hall, owners were proudly displaying their shiny bikes, some with glow in the dark paint, others with Louis Vuitton seats and mudflaps. Biker chicks were fully covered and standing respectfully beside the bikes, keeping a comfortable distance from the numerous young men coming up and asking if they could have a picture with them. Instead of lamb-chop side-burns many of the bikers had neatly trimmed beards. And even though the exhibition hall had a constant stream of loud house music, we saw one group of leather-clad bikers doing a traditional Saudi dance.

My favorite was the guy in a bright yellow linen suit, black shirt and dress shoes who seemed to be everywhere we were throughout the show. He made my evening when he let out a loud yelp as one of the bikers gave him a speedy lift to the end of the parking lot. Now that's a badass.

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