By the time you read this, I will have landed in Doha, Qatar, after spending 9+ hours barrelling along the Via Rail Windsor-Montreal corridor on a train, followed by an eye-watering 12-hour flight.

This (incredibly) is the fourth time I have been invited to CHI Al Shaqab presented by Longines, an FEI 5* jumping, dressage and para-dressage event held at one of the world’s most breathtaking facilities, running Feb 22-24. It will be interesting to see what some of the showjumpers on this side of the world have been up to as they prepare for the Paris Olympics later this year, as many of them never set foot in North America.

I have to admit that as many times as I have been to this Middle Eastern country, I am not positive how to pronounce it! Depending on who you ask, it can be kuh-TAR, KAW-ter, or kah-TAR (if you’re a Brit). Americans simply pronounce it ‘cutter’. Some Qataris say it like ‘ghu-terh’ – hence the confusion.


And apparently I am not the only one – ESPN produced this video ahead of the 2022 Soccer World Cup:


So for us anglophones we have a no-syllable-stressed ‘kah-tar’ for the win!

A golf course

Education City Golf Course.

While hunting down wine at the end of the day has always been a primary challenge in this Muslim country, this year I also hope to slip out for a round of golf. There is a lovely course right next door to Al Shaqab that even offers night golf for those scorching 50ºC+ summer days.

A bit about golf here: While the Education City course is a familiar-looking turf/lakes/bunkers course such as we have in Canada, they also have ‘desert courses’ which are literally played on sand fairways, with the greens made of packed-down oiled sand called ‘browns’. You tee off on, and carry with you, a swatch of Astroturf to hit from. I kid you not.

And finally, back in January after blimping out over the Christmas holidays, I started a Keto diet ‒ no carbs, lots of meat and veg (and fat!!). It has been effective and painless, as you are never hungry, and I am down 17 pounds so far. So the big question this week will not be “who will win Saturday’s 410,000 euro Grand Prix?”; it is “can I keep up the Keto at a venue where catering produces delicious buffet meals five times a day?” We shall see…

(Follow CHI Al Shaqab presented by Longines on the livestream here.)