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Qatar - the last 50 years

My novel Single Man Dancing Alone is the sequel to The House of Fortune.

The first novel traces the Qatari Al Bahr family from the 1920s to the 1970s.

The second novel is based on my life in Qatar from 1977 to 2000 as well as a fictional connection to the Qatari family taking us up to the present day and the hosting of the World Cup.

I wrote the book over two years during the pandemic lockdown. The two books together, through historical fiction, give an account of the last one hundred years of Qatar's progress from poor pearling outback to vast wealth and a country now known to all.

I made this little painting of the house in the centre of Doha which I used as the setting of the family home when I meet Ahmed Al Bahr at the beginning of Single Man. It still stands today as a museum.

The idea of the novel is to show the struggle that ordinary Qataris faced going through the 70s and 80s as the country developed. I also explored the relationship between the minority Qatari population and the ever-increasing expatriate community which led a separate existence. Having learned Arabic in Egypt while doing VSO I was able to involve myself more with Qataris and this is what I write about when I get immersed in the lives of the fictional Qatari family.

The cover I painted for the second novel was fun to do during lockdown. The bright blues f sea and sky are a reminder of happy days spent on the corniche in Doha. The cover only shows the right hand side of the painting. The full sweep of the corniche takes up the rest of the piece with the Doha Sheraton at the tip of the then newly-created West Bay. It was to be the focal point of the capital's new skyline. However that all changed in the 2000s when the wealth from gas meant that more and more extravagant tower blocks shot up. The beautiful pyramid is now dwarfed and a speck on the landscape.

You'll have to read the book to find out from where I found the title!

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