Busting myths: 8 common misconceptions about expat life in Qatar

“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.

expat friends

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!

brothers holding hands

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

Covered?  Yes.

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.

Shoulders covered on the school run

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….



1 Comment

  1. August 22, 2017 / 2:39 am

    The amount of times that people have asked me the above….!
    Thank you for writing about it, it’s my first time reading your blog xx Pooja @lesrebellesquad

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