Moving to Qatar means a life of luxury for many expats, but the country is experiencing growing pains, writes guest columnist Victoria Scott.
ONE of my favourite tweets of recent times was from a Qatari on holiday in the USA. “Why does every petrol station I’m passing seem to be closed?” he asked. You see, we don’t get out of the car to fill up our tanks in Qatar. A pump attendant does it for us, even during the summer, when it can get up to 50C outside. And that petrol – well, it’s cheaper than bottled water. A four litre 4x4 costs around £10 to fill out here. When we go home to the UK for holidays, we avert our eyes when we pay for our fuel.
We also never pack our own shopping bags, wash our own cars, and many also have housemaids who take care of the cleaning, laundry, and in a lot of cases, the children, too. Eating out is a national pastime; Friday brunches pack enough food in to last you a week, and if you sit outside a fast-food restaurant in your car and beep your horn, someone will come to take your order – and bring it to you when it’s ready.
I asked my followers on Twitter what living in Qatar – the world’s richest country by GDP per capita – means to them. One said that shelling out for an iPhone no longer takes any deliberation. Another said that when going on holiday, anything less than five star feels wrong. After all, this is Qatar, home of a forest of luxury hotels, and, of course, “the world’s five-star airline”, Qatar Airways.
So far, so luxurious. But anyone coming to Qatar expecting the streets to be paved with gold will be disappointed. In my area of town, they’re more likely to be covered in dust, surrounded by piles of rocks, and frequently dug up for mains drainage, new electricity cables or roadworks.
One of my friends once told me that the main difference between Doha and Dubai is that Dubai is finished. Qatar is still a country in transition. Its “2030 vision” pledges a world-class infrastructure, a large part of which is an extensive metro network, which only had its ground-breaking ceremony this month. As the country works towards hosting the 2022 World Cup, its residents have a great deal of disruption, demolition and diversion to look forward to.
Follow us on our social media channels: