British expat Amy Bambridge recently moved from Qatar to the UAE. In a recent post on her blog – and reshared here with permission – she lists what she misses most about living in Doha.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s soon as you tell anyone in Doha that you are moving to Abu Dhabi, people will tell you how much you’ll simply love it.
“It’s sort of in between Dubai and Doha, you know, more relaxed than Doha, but without all the ‘jazz’ of Dubai…I used to live there/my friend Sally/Bill/Ed/Sheila used to live there five years ago – you will love it,” etc.
But hey, guess what Doha peeps? There are a few good things about Doha which I am already missing, even though we only left recently.
Please, pick yourself up off the floor and allow me to list them:
1. Al Rawnaq
This crazy place is situated in an underground cavern, with an entrance hole somewhere near Al Ahli Hospital (and, rumor has it, extending underground as far as Al Wakrah).
From stationary to home goods to party stuff, you post on the Facebook group Where, When, How Doha that you need something so obscure that you are certain that nowhere in Doha will possibly sell it, and you will get 15 people all telling you (correctly) that it can be found in Al Rawnaq.
2. Decent compounds
Who knew? Doha’s nicer compounds, such as the Al Fardans, Al Messilahs and Al Jazis, absolutely blow anything over here out of the water. And there’s also nothing like the Pearl-Qatar here.
I know the Pearl has its haters, but we absolutely adored living there.
With hindsight, the architecture was actually pretty cool and the balconies on the apartments were often amazing, and the cafe culture and shopping just kept getting better and better.
3. Freedom of speech
I’m being very careful how I word this blog post. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?
4. Aqua Art on Salwa Road
OK, this is a bit specialist. I am an aquarist and Aqua Art is an awesome aquarium shop.
They have good knowledge, good products and such an amazing selection of fish that I could actually kill an entire summer’s afternoon in there entertaining my toddler twins for free. Beat that, Abu Dhabi.
5. Souq Waqif, the new Souq at Al Wakrah, and the MIA
I know, too obvious. But they were special. I miss them.
6. Hamad International Airport
Well, Doha, you waited long enough. And now you have it: a lovely big, shiny airport (and a teddy bear. Let’s not forget the teddy bear).
It’s stylish, it’s practically-designed (apart from when it rains) and it’s comfortable.
And let me just say this: They don’t do that stupid thing anymore when they x-ray your bag before check-in.
Remember that particular joy in the old airport? Well it’s not disappeared from the Middle East altogether. Grrr.
I’ve done my fair share of moaning about the ambulance service in Doha in the past, but at least you used to see them.
They seem to be a rarer sight here (perhaps because of the much smaller-scale nature of public healthcare – it’s not like the Hamad system).
Someone in our compound called an ambulance for a child and was told to take them by car as it would be quicker, and Facebook replies suggested that wasn’t exactly unusual.
Doha is now dotted with ambulance outstation posts, which is fantastic and should be lauded.
8. Old Navy
OK, so I am scraping the barrel now. I never even liked anything in there anyway.
And we have Pottery Barn over here, which absolutely whoops anything Doha has in the way of homewares into oblivion, so that cancels out the Old Navy thing anyway.
Abu Dhabi 1, Doha 0.
9. Traffic policemen on roundabouts and intersections
Actually, no, not really. You can keep those, Doha, please. Oh, and you know what else you can keep? Motorcades.
Are you an ex-Doha dweller? What do you miss about the city?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this Opinion article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Doha News’ editorial policy.