Regulars at Doha Ramada's Orion bar will have noticed a changed climate over the past few weeks. First was the diminutive but smiley manageress Julietta's transfer to the Library bar (where she was an instant hit). Next was the changing of the band. The Sri Lankan trio's contract came to an end and they returned home, to be replaced by a Filipino outfit. Piano and two singers. The quality of piano playing is technically better, but less raunchy and less fun. But the singers are both balladeers and their choice of music is very restricted: wall to wall slow numbers, the more sentimental the better, it seems. The unsolved mystery is how they managed to find a Filipino singer who doesn't play guitar? Maybe he had a protected childhood. Of course, endless ballads and anthems are the stuff of Filipino parties and karaoke nights, so it's no surprise that the audience in the comfy chair end is becoming more Filipino by the night.
The other noticeable change is the growing number of Chinese girls decorating the bar area. Mercifully not in Sheraton numbers, but just enough to make the place look and feel less sterile. Whether or not this is a new leniency policy by management, I couldn't say, but anything that goes some way to redress the male/female imbalance has got to be welcomed. Maybe it's all part of the run up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.