It all began a year ago, surfing a darknet browser in my hometown of Doha - back when it was still inhabited by people. As a journalist I’d become keenly interested in the issue of armed No-Pats, trying to find a contact within the ranks of these stateless soldiers. Finally, at 3:28 AM, an anonymous source DM’d me, claiming to be the most wanted man alive - the commander of the largest contingent of No-Pat forces, known to the world simply as “Oz.;I’d gotten such messages before, but it was never the real Oz. Some came from government agents waging anti-No-Pat campaigns and one guy had even accused of being Oz, hiding in plain sight. But this was different, if for no other reason than the chat ended with me needing to flee the country as the Qatari Police broke down my door for aiding a terrorist.
It would be the only time in my life I ever welcomed a sandstorm.
Opulent Doha was once hailed as the City of Quartz for her LED skyline.
By the ‘40’s, sand had become to Doha what water was to Venice. After years of fighting the encroaching desert, only those who couldn’t afford to leave remained under the massive LED skyline, still relentlessly promoting luxury handbags. Qatar had thrived in the 30’s, thanks to skyrocketing oil prices. The country invested heavily in combating desertification, hoping to copy Egypt’s success. For a time, it seemed we might tame nature. Then the oil ran out.</p> <p>Famines, failed responses to them, and government protests all accompanied the sand monsoons. Soon there were military police everywhere, ready to arrest anyone that risked Qatar becoming the next non-patriated flash point.
My browser had the wrong search history
I never thought I’d welcome an approaching sandstorm. The sand storm’s cover is keeping me alive. Hiding from the armored vehicles hunting me down, I begin to notice anomalies in the LED adverts. Buried within the images is the unmistakable No-Pat emblem - a flag with a slash through it.</p> <p>The breadcrumbs lead me to the catacombs under the abandoned football stadium. A fiftyish military man in Bermuda shorts whose relaxed demeanor is extremely off putting, points casually with his flashlight to a tunnel entrance - guarded by a mechanical sentry system. He puts out his hand. “Pyotr Guskovsky…” he grunts. Then, in perfect Arabic: “This was a one time thing.
As I disappear into the dark while the wind howls overhead, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to call Doha home again.</p> <p>Little do I know that in less than a year later - Qatar would be a failed state, and the city of Doha, lost to sand.