“I live in Qatar”
“The Middle East?”
Oh right, what’s that like? I’ve heard….
Living in the Middle East for the past four and a half years, first in Dubai now in Qatar I’ve had a mix of responses from the incredulous to the where is that?!
Since moving to Qatar however they’ve been along the lines of
You live where?! Qatar?! Where’s that?! The Middle East? Ooh I couldn’t do that because <insert common misconception>
The thing is though, a lot of what people believe just isn’t true and living in Qatar is just that. Living in Qatar.
You can’t drink alcohol
Yes you can.
OK so you can’t sit on a park bench swigging back an alcopop but would you anyway?
Alcohol is available in the majority of the five star hotels and the legendary Doha Rugby Club also holds a licence to serve.
Plus you know, brunch.
You can’t buy alcohol
Yes you can.
You just need to have an alcohol licence to enter the one shop that sells alcohol. The (almost famous) Qatar Distribution Centre (QDC) sells both alcohol and pork…. which brings me onto…
You can’t eat pork
Yes you can.
Not out in restaurants, but as above you can buy pork for consumption at home. We just won’t share pork sausages with the kids they get chicken sausages…
You can’t hold hands
Public displays of affection are a no go. No snogging in public and definitely no getting jiggy al fresco, though I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed in the UK either.
Holding hands? As long as you don’t have sweaty hands – go for it!
Similarly, greeting people with a kiss on the cheek? I most certainly do.
As someone who is naturally one of those touchy feely people I haven’t felt like my natural personality is stamped down, repressed, or indeed any of the other negative words that is all too often associated with the region.
You can’t go out alone
Alone where?! If I didn’t venture out with my boys on my own I’d never leave our compound while my husband is at work. And with their energy being cooped up works for NO ONE.
I go out on my own, shopping, to soft play, to play dates. I also go out at NIGHT alone (when I have the energy from my children who hate to sleep naturally) to book club, for dinner, for drinks.
The notion that it is unsafe, as a woman, to go out alone is out dated and one which I do not believe. To be honest, I probably feel safer walking in the dark in Qatar than I do in the UK!
You must be covered from head to toe
Head to toe? No.
It is a given that living in a country we will adopt their rules, regulations and cultural appropriations. In the case of living in Qatar that means when I leave the compound I am covered. My shoulders are covered. My knees are covered. I am respectful of the country that I am a guest in.
Even if that means wearing jeans in 40 degree heat.
In the compound? We live in an expat compound that is relaxed in their rules, gated and walled. In our pool I wear a bikini (even when I do not feel like wearing a bikini) I wear shorts, I wear vest tops.
You’re not allowed to drive
In Qatar I hold a Qatari Driving Licence, and drive my big expat car.
If I didn’t drive I would be stranded!!
Though when driving, though I lean heavily on the horn when I’m driving in Qatar with the road rage I feel, obscene hand gestures are NOT allowed. Or swearing.
You have to be filthy rich to live here
Well, that’s us out then….