More often than not, a world press launch is held somewhere not far off the beaten path of familiarity. The local language may be French, Spanish, Italian or some other Latin dialect, but the sights and sounds don’t fall under the guise of the really exotic. The 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R launch in Qatar was a little different. While Qatar is very westernized (I saw an Applebee’s in downtown Doha, for chrissakes!) there’s no forgetting you’re visiting an area of the world that’s  fundamentally dissimilar. Architecture, fashion, culture and cuisine are constant reminders that things are different. And sand, lots and lots of sand.

So it was a treat to visit that area of the world, and, especially, ride the track that’s become the traditional Round 1 of the MotoGP season each year for the last decade. Riding under the lights of the Losail Circuit was exceptionally cool, but experiences outside the track also presented some notable memories. Here’s 10 of what I found quizzical, interesting, or both.

  • spiff

    Do locals get into the bikes, or are you a side show that is going on at the track down the street?

    • Not sure, but I did see a lot of small-displacement pizza delivery bikes. Qatar does seem to have the lowest spectator turnout of all the MotoGP races.

    • TroySiahaan

      I remember when I was in Qatar, we rented some ATVs to go play in the dunes. Motojournalists, being the hooligans we are, eventually found some nice jumps to launch ourselves from. Wouldn’t you know it, before long some locals found us on their ATVs. Despite the language barrier, we eventually convinced them to join us! And boy did they have the biggest grins from ear to ear, white robes and all…

  • Old MOron

    If you liked the tamarind juice, next time you’re in Mexico, ask for agua de tamarindo.

    That towel threw me for a loop. When I first looked at the picture, I thought it was an iphone in the middle.

  • Jon Jones

    Very cool and interesting piece.

  • Vrooom

    That wasn’t Tamarind juice :). That coffee looked great, made me want to go, as if riding a Super Duke on a track wouldn’t.

  • TheSeaward

    Did you see the buses full of de facto slave laborers in Doha? That country is cancer.