By Ms. Hala
Exclusive to ILQ from mshala.co
From: ‘What I’ve Learned Living the Confused Expatriate Life'
Selected images courtesy of iStock by Getty Images
As you may or may not know, I’ve said “salam” to Qatar earlier to this summer, a place I’ve called home for the last five-plus years. If you’re a fan of my ranting blog (as you should be, #JustSaying), you’ve read on how my expat life didn’t start off so easy. I’m sure if I had known then what I know now, it would’ve been a little bit easier. So long story short, let me share with you some tips I’ve learned being an expat in Qatar.
Expect the unexpected: When I first came to Qatar, I had a plan in mind: stay for a year, save a bunch of money, and head back home. I had never planned to stay for as long as I did, but as they say, “God is truly the best of planners.” I promise you, whatever plans you have coming into Qatar will fly out the window, quick! You must expect the unexpected, nothing is like how it’s done back home and no one is going to hold your hand through the process. Have a plan, yes, but be prepared and stay open-minded, that’s how spontaneous life in Qatar can be.
Learn the language: It’s wonderful that English is widely used in Qatar. However, I’ve had my fellow English-speaking friends complain when someone doesn’t speak English to them, be it a professional or private capacity. I’d have to remind them that the official language of Qatar is Arabic, thus no one is obligated to speak your language. Make an effort to learn Arabic, even if it’s the basics. You can start by joining language exchange groups as well as checking out language learning programs in Education City and at the Sheikh Abdulla Bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Center – formerly known as Fanar.
Try everything once: Being an expat is an adventure to be had! While an expat in Qatar, there’s so much you should try at least once. Head with a group to the sand dunes by Sea Line. Eat a bowl of chicken majbous in Souq Waqif. Enjoy an evening in a dhow boat. Volunteer to walk the shelter dogs at a lovely farm off Shamal Road. Spend the day in the Museum of Islamic Art, it’s free! Enjoy an evening of classical music by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in Katara. And you must have a cup of hot karak from any of the amazing tea shops all around town.
Befriend a Qatari: In the time you’ve stayed in Qatar, how many Qatari friends have you made? Don’t know where to meet Qataris? Start with everyone’s friendly neighbourhood Qatari, Mr. Q (aka my buddy Khalifa). When I first came to Qatar, it was ILQ’s active forums that introduced me to him and many Qataris, as well as new expats in Qatar. I’ve connected with Qataris active on social media and learned about their culture, language, and food. I consider many of them now my lifelong friends. So don’t be shy to ask a question, start a conversation, and befriend those that have welcomed us into their country.
Share your blessings: Realistically speaking, it’s easy for many of us to live a comfortable life in Qatar but that doesn’t mean we forget to humble ourselves. There are many in Qatar living on so little to better provide for their families back home. There are things you can do in your daily lives to keep you grounded. When you eat at a restaurant, any good, untouched leftovers can be given to someone in need. When you buy large amounts of water, leave a bowl of cool water outside your building for stray animals. When shopping in a mall, give a little to the many charitable organizations’ kiosks supporting initiatives in Qatar and beyond.
These are just a few tips from my final rant to close out the rant series, Living the Confused Expatriate Life. Be sure to comment below with any tips for your fellow and new expats in Qatar.
Until next time, salam!
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