When being an expat in Qatar is actually OK...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

As an expat in the Arabian desert, it's very easy to get yourself stuck in a negative rut. It's too hot. There's not enough to do. The family is a seven hour flight away. Have you seen the way people drive out here?!

When the conversation turns to topics like this, I always attempt to spin it around and concentrate on the positives - after all, as someone I met yesterday simply put it, "there are definitely worse places to be".

Here are a few reasons why I am currently happy being an expat in Qatar.

1. It's Eid!

Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice is the second Eid holiday of the Muslim calendar. With a week off work this year granted to most of us that don't work in TV, 90% of the population leave Qatar for a short holiday. But with Rich having to work, and both of us trying to save holiday time and money for wedding-related activities, we have discovered it is a brilliant time for a little 'staycation'. There's just so much going on!

We watched a stunning aerial dance display depicting the story of the creation the other night at Katara.

Which was followed by a dramatic firework display over the villas beyond.

Having some time off over Eid also means that I get to dedicate a bit of time to wedding planning

Or catching up on some weekend reading in bed.

2. It's starting to get cooler 

Anybody that lives in Qatar has finely tuned their senses to detect the first hint of an indication that Winter is on its way. Whether it's stepping outside into air that doesn't feel like you've accidentally wandered into a sauna, discovering your cold tap is producing water that isn't hot enough to boil a potato, or arriving at work without 3rd degree burns from the steering wheel of your car, the general feeling around the place is that summer is firmly behind us.

And that means plenty of this:

(Hotdogs or legs?)

(Rich described this one 'like looking down the wrong end of a pair of binoculars'. Totally taking that as a compliment).

Less time in the gym, and more time exercising outside.

(OK, just more time exercising...I never go to the gym).

And more motivation to turn off that boxset and get outdoors to enjoy the best things our lovely little country has to offer.

3. We have made some really brilliant friends

Out here, your friendships mean more than anything to you. Your friends become your adopted family, your support network and your lifeline.

We're really lucky to be surrounded by a really top notch bunch of expat friends and colleagues out here that we wouldn't substitute for the world!

We also made an extra special new friend this week, albeit slightly hairier and smellier than the rest. 

Meet Casper, our neighbours Ally and Miriam's dog, who we looked after for a few days while they were away.

We bonded over runs around the Pearl.

And my love for this chappy bowled me over.

Quite literally.

4. Everybody seems to be coming here!

Whether it's a short stop-over on their way through the Middle East on their travels like my friend Ben, or a slightly longer-term stay like my friend Bec who has just got a job out here, Qatar is now the place to come to. Which means I get to take full advantage of seeing lots more of my lovely friends from home than I originally anticipated I would.

Three years ago, I met a brilliant, funny and very entertaining girl called Natalie while travelling in Brazil. Imagine my surprise when she messaged me to say she was doing a placement in Doha for a month, and asked if we could meet up! At the first opportunity I had, I was there with bells on. We caught up over shisha and cocktails on beanbags on the beach at the St Regis as a DJ played into the night. Just like old times.

Come back soon Nat!

5. We've been eating out a lot

If there's one thing that Doha does really well, it's food, and we find any excuse we can for a celebration with a meal in one of our favourite places.

We celebrated a month of being engaged with the exquisite Express Lunch at La Spiga in the W Hotel.

We celebrated the first night of Eid with fish and chips on our knees in Katara's amphitheatre followed by a hot chocolate in our favourite chocolatier, Chac'Late.

& we celebrated having a rare Sunday off together with lunch at Tamarind, followed by treats from Sugar & Spice while we watched the football.

6. I really, really love my job

It's a bit of a novelty for me to get out of bed in the morning with a spring in my step, excited to get to the office (well, after my second cup of tea at least). I work in CSR and there are many reasons for why I love what I do, but it's mainly because I finally feel like I'm doing something that is making a difference.

It's all helped along by some fantastic colleagues

And working with 22 of the most inspiring young people I have ever met as part of our Generation Amazing programme.

Thinking about these things has reminded me how important it is to love where you live and what you do every day.

Even when it's so hot outside that you could fry an egg on the bonnet of your car.