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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Five tips for new expats on settling into Qatar

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In my latest column for The Telegraph, I listed five ways for new arrivals to settle into expat life in Qatar.

The country’s residency rules mean that Qatar may never be a true “home” for expats, but that doesn’t give people an excuse to forego what this place has to offer. In my piece, I write:

“Last year, a fellow British expat left Qatar after a brief spell. He’d hated it. He’d tell anyone who’d listen about his time in a country with “nothing to do”, an alien culture, terribly congested roads, and even more terrible driving.

When questioned, however, it became apparent that he’d essentially spent two years on holiday. He hadn’t travelled outside of Doha’s city boundaries, nipped back to the UK whenever he could, and spent his weekends at expensive brunches at five-star hotels, bemoaning the lack of other activities on offer.”

In order to get the most of your time in Qatar, consider:

  • Keeping busy with hobbies and events;
  • Focusing on making new friends, both expat and local;
  • Avoiding returning to your home country too often;
  • Learning about local culture; and
  • And exploring Qatar’s open spaces.

A fulfilling life in Qatar requires work, but if you’re prepared to put the effort in, I argue that the country will “pay your efforts back twice over.”

Specific tips include seeking out new friendships groups on Internations and Meetup, making new friends on Twitter, visiting tourist attractions, finding hidden local parks on Just Here’s “Make it home” section, and checking out iLoveQatar’s YouTube channel, #QTips, for friendly advice and information about Qatari culture.

What else would you add?

38 COMMENTS

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Guest
Guest
6 years ago

Step 1: Go to Dubai for the weekend.
Step 2: Come back to Doha for work
Step 3: Go back to Dubai.

Fahad
Fahad
6 years ago
Reply to  Guest

Apply for exit permit on Monday. (72 hours prior to traveling)

Guest2
Guest2
6 years ago

Agree u shdnt visit home too often. Agree abt getting involved in local events and groups. But if u r not Muslim and given u r not Qatari, there is little hope of forming any meaningful relationships with the locals. Too much cultural dissonance. Best to focus on why all of us r here: the money and no tax. Keep ur priorities straight (money and saving) and u will stay sane. If u think too much abt what u miss back home or elsewhere, or if u think too much abt certain aggravations here, u’ll be headed for the departure terminal in no time.

Guest2
Guest2
6 years ago

Agree u shdnt go home too often, it just makes u miss the good old country more. Agree u shd try to meet new ppl and become involved. Visit the MIA and marvel. But if u r not Muslim and think u r going to be good buddies w a Qatari, think again. Too much cultural dissonance. Focus on why u r here: money and no tax. Don’t dwell on what u don’t like abt the place, or u’ll be headed for the departure terminal real soon.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Guest2

You have to go home every so often. Are you to ignore your mother, father, sister, etc back home and cut off that connection? If you’re an American you still pay taxes.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

That’s the American freedom for you, you still have to pay for it wherever you are……

KJD
KJD
6 years ago

1) Avoid becoming friends with negative people — they will only bring you down.
2) Learn to have a sense of humour. No matter where in the world you are when you are having a bad day (which you can have anywhere) laughing it off works wonders.
3) Get your driver’s license so that you can explore and find areas of Qatar that are often overlooked.
4) Accept that Qatar is not your home country and stop comparing here to there.
5) Get involved – volunteer.
6) If you are a trailing spouse – get a job. Getting out of the villa/flat will help you have a more positive attitude about the experience .

greylag
greylag
6 years ago

I tell people all the time that there is more to do here everyday. Since I became resident ( four years ago), there are so many new hotels, restaurants, entertainment events, etc etc, not to mention X many more malls! Some of my favourite places, however, are the outside ones- Souk Waqif, Katara, Corniche, Aspire Park. Get out and look!

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Problem is that Qatar is for certain types of people.

If you’re an outdoors person then at least 5 months out of the year you’re out of luck with the heat.

If you like bars, restaurants, movies and malls you’re in luck. Problem being I can do that back home and here they are terribly over priced. All expats agree you have to travel to get out of here every so often. Traveling from here is very expensive compared to any other place I’ve lived. If you came here to just live I think you’re OK. If you came here to make your life better on the other side you’re not. The years you think it will take to save the money to make the other side better gets longer and longer and longer and…

It all depends on where you are from, and what you like to do. I’ll agree with the posts in answer to come… This isn’t necessarily a place for me. I came here for “the other side”.

Dobbin_the_Wonder_Horse
Dobbin_the_Wonder_Horse
6 years ago

For western expats – learn Arabic. Not only is it a useful way to keep your mind active but it also gives an insight into Arab culture. If you are here long enough it may also help your career prospects.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

I’ve been learning arabic for 18 months but now realized I should have learnt Hindi.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

No.1 don’t read Doha News or it’ll bring you down

No. 2 drink a lot and I don’t mean water….

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Hard to disagree with No. 2, wherever you might find yourself. As for No. 1, I always feel better after reading Doha News, as it makes me feel so much smarter.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

I must agree. Only because I am so sure in the superiority of my own religion that I can feel superior but in a tolerant way of all other religions and culture, so in that way I promote diversity thorough superiority

K Abdulghani
K Abdulghani
6 years ago

Those advices do no good for blue collar expats. They have no choice being here.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago

How ridiculously naive, twee and insipid.

That the Telegraph would print such a waste of space is beyond me. How about advice on selecting a residence, traffic, how to buy a car, banking, getting school spaces, adjusting to the climate, work environments, living in predominately Muslim country, living in a country in which the rule of law is more flexible and in which ordinary people are not involved in politics, and advice on where to find answers to these issues when a pathetic advice column can offer little more by way of suggestion beyond taking up a hobby.

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

agreed – completely out of touch with the realities of living in Qatar as an expat – no mention of the risk to your life and liberty you take every time you move around town !

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
6 years ago
Reply to  Scarletti

Hello Scarletti and David,

You may be interested in reading these articles below. This piece was specifically commissioned to be about ‘settling in’ – it’s impossible to include all aspects of life in Qatar within the word limit, but I have written several others which I hope give a broader picture.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatlife/9373401/Doing-battle-on-Dohas-dangerous-roads.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/before-you-go/9667625/Whats-it-like-to-live-in-Qatar-the-worlds-richest-country.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/before-you-go/10053737/Moving-guide-10-things-to-know-before-relocating-to-Qatar.html

All the best,

Victoria

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

lol You just pulled a classical “Jon Stewart burns Fox news” on them XD

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Don’t mind the negative comments Victoria, you gave good sensible suggestions. It’s just that we have a lot of negative whiners here who just want to have a petty party, and so, any positive suggestion such as yours is a threat to their self-petty. You know, they’re like, “How dare you say I can live in Qatar and not feel miserable.”

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Or I guess one hobby would be to follow some locals’ example and troll discussion sites. To paraphrase one: you know they’re like, “How dare you suggest that tips on finding a residence in Qatar might be useful.” 😉

Once the hobby is perfected, one could post things like “love it or leave it”, unless, of course, you can’t because of the restrictive labor laws. As for myself, I liked living in Qatar and enjoy my return trips, mostly because the Qataris I have come to know are not at all like some of those who post on these sites.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

1P = 1000W

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Thanks, but I’m an avid Telegraph reader and so have read them already.

Personally, I thought the ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ piece and the accompanying article in the BBC magazine was quite insightful. The NY Times has run a number of social-cultural pieces that have been quite good, too.

efe
efe
6 years ago

is this valid for labours ? LOL

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Pretty poor, probably knocked it up around the pool when the maid was looking after the kids and you were on your third G&T while complaining to the other expat wives about the Indian maintenance guys in the compound because of their poor English.

To be fair though Doha News is free so who are we to complain.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Wow, that’s pretty harsh – and about as far from my reality as you could actually get.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Harsh, nah, just your typical “mean, condescending, and self righteous for no reason” DN commentators attitude.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Please don’t accept my self righteousness as intolerance of others, in fact my intolerance is in response to the intolerance of others hence it is tolerant.

MIMH – community leader and defender of the oppressed and put upon in Qatar.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Sorry, I have this silver bullet that I was eager to shoot, and you moved in sight, so I just shot, even though you’re not really the correct target 😉

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Ow! Straight though my heart…,

Shabina921
Shabina921
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

If you want to continue commenting on this forum, please stop with the personal attacks. We want construction conversation here, not potshots that devolve discussion.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

You should try a hobby. It would solve all your problems.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

My hobby is community relations. I’ve been accused of being a Qatari, an islamiphobe and a hater of most nationalities.

I’m a world citizen promoting values of tolerance, intolerance, stoning and mercy from stoning, as well as freedom from western imperialism and the effects of education.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

I’m sorry for misrepresenting you. It was the fifth G&T after your massage at the ritz….

Jen
Jen
6 years ago

I do think it’s a bit f a -simplistic viewpoint. I have read something else by Victoria which I felt the same about–however of course this is just a part of a bigger piece on settling in. Personally I love going home to South Africa as much as I can–and doing so makes me much happier in Qatar and the other countries where I’ve worked–I feel grounded and happy to have been with my family and all that is ‘root wise’ familiar to me–so avoiding going home too much defintely would not work for me. Get involved in hobbies–I am quite tired after my full time work–so not sure this would apply to people who working full time and long hours–but for sure-on wkends explore,volunteer and have fun. For me the biggest factor in adapting is flexibility and avoidance of ethnocentrism (which comes quite naturally to all of us),being open, accepting of other’s views points (even if not in agreemement) and trying to think positively. This is also a somewhat simplistic view and overlooks all the practical issues. But I did find the article a bit–patronising (and yet I do realize that is not what Victoria was intending).

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Problem is that Qatar is for certain types of people.

If you’re an outdoors person then at least 5 months out of the year you’re out of luck with the heat.

If you like bars, restaurants, movies and malls you’re in luck. Problem being I can do that back home and here they are terribly over priced. All expats agree you have to travel to get out of here every so often. Traveling from here is very expensive compared to any other place I’ve lived. If you came here to just live I think you’re OK. If you came here to make your life better on the other side you’re not. The years you think it will take to save the money to make the other side better gets longer and longer and longer and…

It all depends on where you are from, and what you like to do. I’ll agree with the posts in answer to come… This isn’t necessarily a place for me. I came here for “the other side”.

Masboro
Masboro
6 years ago

I met a woman the other week who freely confessed to ‘not getting out of bed until 2 in the afternoon’ as she couldn’t find anything to do. My wife, who doesn’t work, explained that she was so busy she often had to turn events down.
Victorias article was aimed at people like the woman above who just don’t know where to start with Doha.
As to all of the ‘negative’ posters on here, I would say that you are the type of people to avoid at all costs in Doha as their negativity can quickly drag you down.
Personally I think Victoria provided excellent advice to all of the Doha ‘newbies’ out there.

Shabina921
Shabina921
6 years ago

Closing this thread because it’s devolving into personal attacks.

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