Something awe-inspiring, massive, and very strange is visible in the hot, glistening desert sands of western Qatar.
The appearance of four enormous monoliths extending into the distance along a barren corridor between low limestone cliffs seems to defy logic.
Even so, these metallic invaders have found a strange home in the rough terrain, giving this part of the tiny Gulf nation a majestic dimension.
The steel plates, situated across a kilometer of desert on Qatar’s Zekreet Landmass, are crafted by Richard Serra, an American craftsman known for making forcing metalwork models.
Named “East-West/West-East,” the milestones, which ascend to 16.7 meters, were introduced in 2014 after Serra was asked by craftsmanship adoring Qatari eminence to transform their country.
The plates are still as bold as ever after several years. Despite being marred by rust and graffiti, it remains imposing.
These sentinels appear to last an indefinite amount of time as they watch over barren terrain.
The artwork’s remote location in a place where summer temperatures can exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) inspired and worried its creator.
At the time of its installation, he told the Independent, “This is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.” It’s a piece I’d truly prefer to be seen and I couldn’t say whether it will.”
He shouldn’t need to have stressed.
While barely overwhelm, “East-West/West-East” has turned into a position of incidental journey for local people, travelers and workmanship enthusiasts the same, adding to a program of Qatar desert exercises that incorporates ridge slamming, Bedouin camps and camel journey.
However, getting there isn’t easy.
More than five kilometers separate you from the nearest major highway. The sculpture cannot be reached via a road, and the tracks that traverse the nearby desert are not clearly marked.
Off-road vehicles are required for self-driving in Qatar, and they are not typically available for hire. So guests will either require a nearby companion with admittance to large wheels, or join a coordinated excursion – Qatar Inbound Visits comes energetically suggested
Maze of tracks
Additionally, a GPS device will be useful unless you are accompanied by someone who knows the way. Notwithstanding its size, “East-West/West-East” shouldn’t be visible from the primary street. A prosaic sign pointing to “Camel Underpass No. 1” is the only indication of the turnoff. 7.”
The next step is to carefully choose a path through a sand maze of rutted tracks, passing occasional encampments.
It’s not a good place to break down or get a flat tire because there aren’t many other cars here and only a few lizards and maybe a lost camel.
But once the sculptures are in view, it’s all worth it, especially for fans of classic sci-fi movies. They are arranged in a straight line at 250 meters apart and slowly rise, each one dwarfing the next in a clear perspective trick.
They are neck-craningly tall up close, casting enormous shadows that grow quickly as the hot sun moves through the afternoon. They’re sufficiently strong to ingest strikes without making a big deal about a sound, yet saw side-on they’re scarcely there by any stretch of the imagination.
Voice of defiance
It is worthwhile making the five-minute, somewhat rocky climb to the top of the nearby cliffs to take in the full view of the monoliths stretching out toward the sea, even though it is difficult to get a true sense of scale without other people present.
Furthermore, in the event that the temperatures aren’t excessively terrible, strolling the figure’s full kilometer is an unquestionable requirement.
If the amount of graffiti written on the metal plates over the years is any indication, Serra’s concern about a lack of visitors was clearly unfounded. It’s now a part of the artwork, even though it’s not much of an improvement.
During a CNN visit in 2014, some of the graffiti simply said, “I was here.” Other graffiti serves as venues for artistic debate or national pride, and some of the more recent Qatari additions show defiance of regional sanctions.
The highest graffiti on one of the plates appeared to be the work of visitors from Nepal, the Himalayan kingdom, which may not come as a surprise.
The Al Reem Biosphere Reserve, which is protected by UNESCO and is a short drive to the west, is said to be home to gazelles, oryx, osprey, and other rare desert animals, but it seems like they are hard to find.
More local oddities can be found inside.
First, there is Film City, a fortified desert town with a Qatari flag flying from its mast atop its tallest tower. The entryways are regularly open and guests can stop, investigate and, in the event that they’re fortunate, share some sweet tea with the safety officer.
There’s no genuine interest encompassing this spot. It was worked as a recording area and has shown up in Arabic dramatizations and promotions for soccer’s Qatar-facilitated 2022 FIFA World Cup.
To some degree more baffling – in appearance at any rate – are the “desert mushrooms” of Qatar, one more couple of kilometers along the promontory.
Here, hundreds of years of wind disintegration have emptied out a limestone bowl, cutting the stones into lovely, mushroom-like shapes. An island of weathered stone topped by an inaccessible building is one of the most prominent features, and it is referred to as “umbrella rock.”
This and other small structures in the hollow are replicas of the old datestamp shelters.
They are now merely the final stop on a tour of one of the Arabian Gulf’s more unusual destinations.
or the stunning setting for a night spent camping under the stars and exchanging bizarre desert tales.