Deployments are long, hard, and grueling no matter which way you look at it. However, Air Force deployments are better than other branches of service. Typically the Air Force deploys for 6 months at a time in a support base environment like Al Udeid Air Base.

Deploying means long hours worked, extended amounts of time away, extreme weather conditions, and a lot of counting down the days.

You might not always want to deploy, but if you had to go to any Air Force deployment location, you’d wanna go to Al Udeid Air Base. What is an Air Force deployment like at Al Udeid Air Base? It’s one of the best first deployments an airman can get, and be excited to deploy to.

Why Al Udeid Air Base?

Getting an Al Udeid deployment is nice, it’s an established support base and has been for numerous years.

It is a key location to all support in the Middle East, housing multiple nations military members including many of our military branches.

The infrastructure is superb compared to other bases in the middle of nowhere. You won’t be disappointed by everything this base has and everything you can do while there.

Besides there being plenty of things you can do on base, you can actually go off base and explore the city. Which is a rare thing on deployments.

Doha the nearby city, has close to a million people. From base it’s only 25 miles to the heart of the city or the Persian Gulf.

So Al Udeid Air Base is one of the best Air Force deployment locations. How often do you get to say “I’ve swam in the Persian Gulf” or “I’ve been off-roading in the sand dunes of the Middle East” or “I’ve experienced smoking hookah with friends on a Middle East summer’s night”.

Here’s my favorite from personal experience, “I rode around on a jet ski in the Persian Gulf while on a deployment in the Middle East”.

So why Al Udeid? Cause why not, how often do you get a chance like this. You can come back with your own crazy stories and adventures.

Related article below:

Your First Deployment: Deployment Tips and Deployment Must Haves

Get To Know Doha

Before going on an overseas deployment it’s good to know a bit about the area. Common things dealing with the are, what’s around, things to expect, how safe is it, things of that nature.

Doha Is In Which Country?

Doha is in the Middle East country of Qatar. It’s a small country in size, but largely wealthy with big ambitions. Doha, Qatar has a great city skyline full of skyscrapers and is in the process of constant construction being the host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Qatar is surrounded mostly by water on all sides, except for the lower half of the country that is connected to Saudi Arabia.

Is Doha Safe?

Yes the area is absolutely safe, it’s not your typical deployment location. If it wasn’t safe there’d be no way airmen would be allowed to go off base into the city wearing civilian clothes.

The only issue is with traffic accidents in the city. Coming from the U.S. you’ll be shocked at how crazy the people drive in Doha Qatar. There’s a large amount of traffic congested into a small area, making for some sketchy situations.

Car crashes and fender benders are a regular occurrence.

Driving down the highway from Al Udeid Air Base to Doha expect to see multiple cars pushed off the road and only the remnants of glass and car parts littering the highway. Mercedes and other nice cars simply abandoned. It seems like Qatar nationals just go and get new cars without a second thought.

So besides roadside accidents, Doha is safe.

How safe is Al Udeid?

Al Udeid Air Base is also safe. There are multiple barriers of entry with it being a joint base. The Qatari military guards the outer gates and there are massive concrete walls and other barriers beyond that before anyone gets to the American side.

Plus, we have our own barriers of entry for anyone making an unlikely attempt at making their way inside.  

Doha Currency

There are a few different forms of payment used while overseas here. The correct currency all depends on where you are when you’re paying for things, whether it’s on base or off.

Being on base most people just use debit/credit cards to make purchases. There are a few exceptions though.

When buying alcohol at the bar (yes, you can get beer in the middle east) an eagle cash card is need to purchase it. The eagle cash card is given out when first arriving on location. You just have to add money onto it.

Pogs are an accepted form of payment on base too. Not any ole pog will do, specific pogs are used instead of handling pocket chance.

Off base the local Doha currency is called riyal. Typically all off base purchases require riyal, cash is used instead of cards. The finance office at Al Udeid will exchange your money into the Qatari riyal for off base travel whenever needed.

Life During Deployment: Base Amenities And Entertainment

Al Udeid Air Base had been an established base for a number of years, with 10,000 plus military members from around the world calling it home for months on end. The base build up is reflected not only in the places around the air base, but also the things you can do in your free time.

Al Udeid Air Base Dorms

Base housing at Al Udeid Air Base is is some of the best you’re gonna find on a deployment. It’s nothing like a tent city like many other deployment spots.

There are a few different dorm housing areas on base. The regular side has long trailer style housing that hold a large number of the airmen. Two people per room with a bed on each side of the wall, plus wall lockers and a mini fridge. Lower rank airmen will all use this side of the dorms.

Higher ranking airmen have a dorm on the BPC side where the housing is similar to a small apartment building.

Al Udeid Air Base dorms are in close proximity to dining facilities and many other amenities all within walking distance. However, getting from the BPC side of the dorms to the general dorms is fastest by bus.

Food And Drink

There are multiple defac’s or dining facilities on base open most if not all hours of the day and night. The main defac on the general side, one at the BPC side, a flight kitchen, as well as a defac for the operation side. So no matter what part of base you’re at there are food options.

After a while dining facility food does get old, it’s a rotating menu like taco Tuesday and spaghetti Friday. There’s only so much of the same food you can handle for 6 months.

Luckily fast food can be found at Al Udeid Air Base of all places. Smack dab in the middle of the desert you can find places like Pizza Hut stands, Subway stands, even a Taco Bell. Some airmen find themselves blowing lots of money eating out all the time.

You’d be surprised how much money airmen can spend here.

If you need a coffee fix that can be arranged too. The coffee stand is a detour for many airmen on the way to work.

That, or grabbing some rip it’s for a caffeine wake up.

After work most airmen can be found at the bra (a large outdoor covered patio) sitting with a beer in hand. Just steps away is a bar that makes a killing off all the military members that pass through it for a drink.

A drink limit is enforced, only allowing 3 drinks per day. Just the fact that beer is still allowed on deployment in a Middle East country like Qatar is a plus.

USO Tours And Concerts

USO stands for United Service Organization. They bring comforts from home in the way of concerts, comedy tours, and things of that nature.

Having a band or comedian roll through base can really bring up the moral of everyone. It takes everyone’s mind off of being thousands of miles away from home. Just allowing Air Force airmen and other military members the chance to take a load off.

Whoever the band or act is, they take the opportunity to meet as many people on Al Udeid Air Base as possible.

Strolling through where airmen work, hanging out with airmen at the smoke pits, really just giving back and showing appreciation for what the men and women of the Air Force do. Often taking as many pictures with airmen as they can.

USO tours typically come through a few times while you’re stationed there for a 6 month deployment.

While I was there I saw the band Everclear at the bra, and another time while driving around working I could hear Omarion singing throughout the base. My buddy Ram had that chance to hangout with Conan O’Brien and even took pictures with him.

Conan O'Brien at Al Udeid Air Base

Al Udeid Gym

The gym life at Al Udeid Air Base is common for most airmen. To the point that multiple gyms are located on base, as well as running trails and tracks. Pt tests don’t go away simple because you’re deployed.

Whatever your preferred form of workout is there’s a place for it in the desert. The demand asks for a pool so guess what, there’s a pool for people to swim laps in or play water volleyball. A pool is a crazy and wonderful thing to find in the middle of a desert.

The Al Udeid gyms have challenges to set your sights on too.

Powerlifting challenges for anyone interested in maxing for bench press, squat, and deadlift. When you achieve certain amounts of weight a challenge shirt is given to show your accomplishment. The same goes for running, after blowing through the challenges you’d of run up to hundreds of miles over 6 months. So they give out shirts when you complete milestones in your runs.

There is even an Al Udeid Air Base soccer team that has tournaments with a nearby Army base and a Qatari soccer team too. Soccer is a pretty big sport in Doha Qatar, remember you’re host to the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Al Udeid is a great place to workout.

If you need a challenge to start with try the 1500 push-up challenge.

Going Off Base In Doha Qatar

Being able to go off base, especially as often as you can in Qatar is great, because most times that luxury isn’t granted on deployments. So soak up the culture and experience every chance you get. You won’t be disappointed with Doha in the slightest.

ITT Trips And Government Vehicles

ITT trips are pre planned trips to sign up for on deployments that take you off base to experience the local sights and experiences. There are only a certain number of slots available for each trip, sometimes the trips fill up fast.

Multiple trip destinations are offered as well as a few different dates for each trip. So if yours is full, other chances will come up to take that journey off base into Doha and the surrounding areas.

A monthly calendar can be found to try and plan trips around your Air Force job schedule.

If for whatever the reason like you work night shift and sleep during the day other off base opportunities are still available.

Many Air Force jobs are granted government vehicles to use in order to get around base. Al Udeid Air Base is a good sized base. It take time getting from one end to the other.

So the possibility is there to go off base using these government vehicles, but there are some restrictions and barriers of entry. Only a Staff Sergeant or higher can drive off base into Doha, plus additional driving requirements have to be completed before permission is granted.

Remember there are some crazy drivers in Doha, it isn’t like driving in the states.

It’s a good idea for young airmen to befriend a higher ranking person in order to travel off base and explore the city.

What To Do In Doha

Some of the ITT trips offered are amazing trips that will leave you wanting more.

One ITT trip goes off-roading in the sand dunes of Qatar.

Locals driving a convoy of suv’s through the peaks and valleys of sand. Leaving you in sheer excitement being lifted in the air out of your seat driving over tops of sand dunes. All leading to a viewpoint where Saudi Arabia is seen in the distance across a body of water.

Another ITT trip takes you on a boat ride into the Persian Gulf.

Not only do you get to take a dip swimming in the Persian Gulf which is a once in a lifetime chance, but a jet ski is towed behind the boat to ride as you please.

You can jump off the side of the boat out in the gulf, speed off on the jet ski, tan on top of the boat while admiring the city skyline in the distance, and even get served a BBQ lunch on the boat.

The water is an inviting shade of blue when Al Udeid weather is hot, constantly 110+ degrees in the summer with humidity making it feel even hotter. So any chance to enjoy some Qatar tourism activities in the water is a plus.

There was an ITT trip I went on where I got to ride a camel on the Qatar coastline. The camel freaked out and decided to head for the water with me still on it. I was nervous about the water cause I had my phone in my pocket. The camel however killed two birds with one stone and made the decision for us both to cool off in the water. Luckily my phone managed to stay dry in the process.

The option is also there to travel into Doha yourself and explore the city.

Go to the heart of the city and try different local restaurants. If you manage to get in, go to the 47th floor of the torch tower and eat at the rotating restaurant.

Expect to spend some money at that establishment, it’s fancy dining. Listening to a piano player while looking at the menu and the entire restaurant rotates, that just screams fancy.

There is an entire city with things to do, like go to the museum, check out a falconry shop and hold a falcon, go to the movie theater, just be a tourist for the day.

Off Base Shopping

Many airmen like to take advantage of the shopping in Doha Qatar. For a rich country many things can be bought at a reasonable prices.

Haggling is also a common thing found in the city when it comes to small shopping stalls in the souq’s.

Anything from tailored shirts, hookahs, jewelry, to specialty made gifts can be found.

Lots of airmen go into the city to buy cartons of cigarettes seeing as you can’t get them on Al Udeid Air Base. Doha is a hotspot for get items not found on base or to restock on those items. Either at the souq’s or other places like the mall.

Qatar goes big with everything they build and that includes their malls.

Inside the local Doha mall there is an ice skating rink, children’s amusement rides, movie theater, and a canal through the middle of the mall just for gondola rides.

How crazy is that?

That’s not even mentioning the stores inside the mall. I was wonder through this mall and stumbled across a Ferrari showroom.

This isn’t even the biggest mall in Qatar. The biggest mall is roughly twice the size as this local Doha mall.

To Wrap It Up

An Al Udeid deployment is great, but try not to get accustomed to it. So when asking the question “what are deployments like for the Air Force?” just know not all deployments are like Al Udeid Air Base.

Cause “doing the deid” is pure fun and enjoyment.

Find out how much money can be made on a deployment like Al Udeid.

Corey Porter

Corey Porter

Air Force Veteran

Corey is an Air Force veteran and the lead writer at Basic to Blues. He refueled fighter jets as a young airman and deployed twice to the Middle East. Now Corey can be found hiking in the Pacific Northwest.

Who the hell… POL!

Pin It on Pinterest