Establishing a network in a new country is daunting and making friends isn’t always easy.
It takes time and effort to meet people in any new place but Doha has a community feel to it that is unusual in cities. Expat life without your tribe can be lonely but when you’ve found them, you’ll have friends for life.
- Get Out of the House
It sounds obvious but this is your first step to meeting people anywhere. Almost everyone here has been new once and most in the recent past. The transient nature of Doha life means people are usually open to new friendships. It doesn’t have to be a structured environment, you can just as easily strike up conversations in a coffee shop or at soft play.
- Get Online
The internet is helpful for doing pre-move research and there are groups for all backgrounds and interests. It’s common to see offers of playdates or coffees spring up in a Facebook group. Popular groups and pages include When, Where, How Doha; Positive Birth Group Doha; and nationality-specific expat groups.
- Coffee Mornings
It’s scary to make small talk with strangers, but going to a coffee morning gets you out of the house and interacting with others. It also helps you learn to navigate around Qatar. As most coffee shops are in malls, a coffee morning can be combined with a grocery shop or getting your mobile phone sorted. Qatar Expat Women and Tuesday Ladies Group have a range of events and you may well find that your children’s school or class organise something too.
- Do Something You Love or Learn Something New
If talking to strangers isn’t your thing, finding common ground before you get there really pays dividends. Consider volunteering at one of the animal shelters like PAWS or QAWS or sign up for your school PTA. If you’re a foodie, there are numerous cooking classes—search the Doha Foodies Facebook page for classes or follow the social media accounts for local restaurants and hotels. There’s everything from T23 CrossFit to Doha Bay Runners Club if you’re into fitness, or sign your child up for an activity to meet other parents with children the same age.
Check out DohaFamily.com/ Childrens-Activities/ for kids’ classes around Qatar.
- Say Yes
People are generous with their time and tend to be quite friendly in Doha. Don’t be surprised if a newly made acquaintance invites you for a BBQ, for coffee or for a day out. Saying yes will you get re-invited (invitations have a funny way of drying up if you say no a lot). Going off to explore places can be daunting on your own. Rely on other people’s knowledge for trips to the Inland Sea, heading to the best parks (Al Bidda, Aspire and MIA are amazing) and finding the best place to eat.
- Be Proactive
It’s easy to wait for invitations when you’re new but some of the best-connected expats just do the inviting themselves. If you aren’t able to invite people over because your shipment hasn’t arrived or you haven’t got babysitting lined up yet, suggest meeting for breakfast or joining an art class together.