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Friday, February 26, 2021

Why it’s so hard to make Qatari friends

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Qatar is such a melting pot of social classes, races and religions, that it is hard for all of us live the same realities. 

But shouldn’t there at least be opportunities for our different lives to intersect?

The short answer is yes. But why it doesn’t actually happen is complicated.

So explains writer and long-time Qatar resident Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, who thoughtfully tackles the issue in a recent blog post.

There are two main reasons why there is such a great social divide between Qataris and expats, she says.

Firstly, the numbers. There are 1.7 million people living in Qatar, according to the country’s statistics authority. And 85 percent of them are not Qatari.

Rajakumar writes:

The numbers in Qatar create a unique situation where the nationals are actually minorities in their own country. I can think of few other places in the world where this is the case.

Secondly, the expat “revolving door” is exhausting, Rajakumar says.

When you have one population that is static (nationals) and one population that is a revolving door (expats), establishing new relationships becomes a dance with the law of diminishing returns. I used to offer lots of help, advice, rides, and listening ears to new arrivals.

Quickly though I realized what a draining proposition this is as I could predict in exactly what order, and what time of year, the topics they would want to discuss.

A summary of the first six months of the expat: The heat, the traffic, lack of bookshelves, the medical test, grocery shopping, how to find the spouse a job, inconveniences of Ramadan, the construction, getting an RP, and buying a car.

This isn’t to say that these aren’t all valid and important concerns; it’s just listening to them, helping people through them, and then two years later, having to do it all over again for an entirely new group of people, makes you realize how transient expat life is.

Read her full post here.

And tell us what you think!

Expats and nationals, how can we relate to one another?

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