He may not be the hero we deserve, but for numerous members of the Doha public, he’s certainly the one they’ve needed. The first reports of sightings of a covered, masked man approaching strangers to offer assistance began trickling in to ILQ on Sunday, March 26, 2017. They quickly snowballed on social media throughout the week, with close to 50 individuals corroborating the reports.
He’s described as having an average build, and wearing a loose, white leotard, with an unusually long, red-checkered ghutra wrapped around his face and head, flowing down his back like some sort of cape. Those who’ve had run-ins with him say they were initially taken aback by his appearance.
“At first I was afraid, I was petrified,” recalls Filipina expat Lark Jape. “I was coming out of Lulu Hypermarket near Airport Road with a cart full of groceries and my two small children. I reached my car and opened the trunk; I bent over to pick up my son to put him in his car-seat, and when I turned back I saw there was a man beside my cart – out of nowhere.”
Visibly shaken, Jape continued: “I was frightened because his face was covered and I thought he was going to steal our groceries as he had two bags in his hand. I drew in my breath to shout, and then I saw that he was putting the bags in the trunk of my car. I just stood there clasping my children’s hands as he unloaded all our groceries. The only time he spoke was at the end. He said, in a gravelly voice, ‘Shukran habibti’ and then he was gone. His eyes were very green, but kind.”
Spotted as far north as Al Khor, ‘Qatman’ as he’s been unofficially dubbed, seems to prefer silence over chatter during his encounters – letting his actions speak louder than words. But it was in Al Shahaniya where Qatari Ahmed Al-Foul met the man who ended up saving his livelihood.
“Every year I train my animals for competition in the camel races at Al Shahaniya,” Al-Foul told ILQ. “But this week, when my best camel Gashmarah collapsed with a lame leg, my heart broke. That animal has been with me for so many years.”
Al-Foul went on to describe how, when crouched down to tend to Gashmarah, a dark shadow blotted out the sun. When he looked up, he claims there were a pair of burning green eyes staring back at him. “I immediately began to pray,” he recalls. “This man came out of nowhere – I am convinced he was not of this world.”
According to Al-Foul, Qatman bent down to Gashmarah and whispered in his ear. The camel let out a braying bellow and shakily got to its feet. Al-Foul says he couldn’t fully understand what was happening, due to the shock he felt. “All I saw was Gashmarah standing on all fours again, and I remember hearing myself say, ‘Who are you? How can I repay you?’” When he turned towards the stranger who had helped him, Al-Foul says all that greeted him was a cloud of dust with the words ‘Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name’ echoing on the wind.
While there doesn’t seem to be any way of predicting when or where Qatman will show up, what does seems to be consistent is that he always appears to those in need. Something Irish expat Patrick Stunt can attest to: “It was about 5:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, March 30, 2017, and I was driving along at a good clip on the Doha Expressway, heading home, when I heard a rattle and pop. Sure enough, I’d busted my tire. I managed to get pulled over into the breakdown lane just ahead of the Al Rayyan underpass, and got the jack and spare out of the trunk."
According to Stunt, when he ducked back into the car to call his wife, he felt himself lifted up as the rear end of the vehicle was hoisted into the air and then dropped with some force. Frightened, Stunt jumped out to investigate – and that was when he saw a white figure in the dusk standing next to his car. His tire had been changed and the jack and flat neatly packed away back in the trunk.
Stunt says he was at a loss for words. “Phew, for a minute there…I lost myself,’ he describes. “I didn’t know what to say to the lad, but it didn’t matter anyhow – he was gone before I could string two words together. How he managed to bolt away across five lanes of rush-hour traffic without even so much as a horn honking is beyond me.”
Whoever Qatman may be, it’s not who he is underneath the shroud of his ghutra, but it’s what he does that defines him. Have you heard of, seen, or had a run-in with Qatman? Tell us about your experience in the comments below and let us know how he helped you! Also, don’t forget to give us a like and a share – it keeps us going!
Na na na Na na na na QATMAN!!!
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