Old Bullnose Mercedes Trucks in Qatar
The Bullnose Mercedes
It is generally accepted that there is not a lot to do in Qatar. True, there are shopping malls and luxury hotels, but if you are allergic to both, you have to find your enjoyment where you can. Today, I'm liking bullnose Mercedes trucks. Tomorrow, perhaps, crab sexing by the sea. It's all about short term enthusiasms. Besides which, these trucks are OK. Lumbering and growling their way through the narrow streets, churning out deep ruts and potholes wherever they go, they're as much part of the Doha scene as the fleet of clapped out American school busses that provide workers' transport. You've got to love them.
Build, Baby, Build...
Doha, Qatar, is currently 'enjoying' the biggest city reconstruction project since Napoleon's Paris. Huge areas of the city are being swept away. Every day, old (and some not-so-old) buildings are reduced to rubble. Conservation, refurbishment, renovation - these are foreign concepts here. If something is in the wrong place, it's history. The desert winds whip great clouds of concrete dust and debris across the clearances. National, Musheireb, Bin Mahmoud, going, going gone. From dawn prayers till sundown, and in places all through the night, the city echoes to the din of pile drivers and bulldozers. Mountains of rubble are created and transported to landfill sites. And the workhorses entrusted with this heavy haulage are a fleet of battered old bullnose Mercedes Benz trucks.
Here's where they sleep at night:
From what I gather, most of Qatar's truck fleet is twenty-five to thirty years old. I'd guess there must be a few hundred of them in Doha alone, with many more servicing the outlying sites and plants. What I like about the Mercedes Bullnose are its huge road wheels and the way the cab is set oddly high above them, giving it a rearing stallion look. You can always tell if the driver is Indian because they like to personalise their cabs, with pieces of fabric, tassels and chains.
A full load on one of these chaps must be about fifteen cubic metres. Crushed concrete has to weigh around two tons per cubic metre. So a fully (over)laden truck could exceed thirty tons. With only ten wheels to spread the load, it's no wonder our roads are suffering. But that's good too, if it slows down the boy racers in their Land Cruisers.
I'd hate to give the impression that Qatar haulage is stuck in the past. There are plenty of newer trucks too, like this Mercedes Actros (Atrocity?). It's more powerful and more comfortable for the driver of course, but there's nothing to like about it. A truck (as I've just convinced myself!) should look like a truck. It should look powerful. It should be noisy, smelly, rattly. It should shake the ground and carve up the roads. It should make pictures and mirrors fall off the walls in its wake. Most of all, it should be bullnosed with a big ugly vertical exhaust.
Thank you for reading!