When I initially arrived in Qatar with my child in May 2021, we intended to stay for just one month. It’s been over a year, and we have no (actual) plans to leave anytime soon. This is our story.
March 2019: The Beginning
My family and I lived a comfortable continental European lifestyle. But three years ago, on what seemed to be a typical, light Saturday movie night, an important financial institution unexpectedly messaged my husband on Linkedin. It was in Qatar, and I honestly didn’t think much of the proposal at the time because I knew little about the country. It seemed like life there would be far too different, so I didn’t think I could end up moving. Soon, however, an offer was on the table, and arrangements were made. By the time I realised that our lives were about to change significantly, it was too late for me to do anything about it.
So, my husband accepted the contract intending to stay in Qatar for a year while my son and I continued our lives back home with my father’s support and company.
2020: Covid and Major Life Changes
When Covid happened, the world changed, and so did our plans. My husband was stuck in Doha, so we only saw each other for a few days throughout the whole of 2020. But, as I previously stated, my father was with us, which reassured me that my child and I were safe and always cared for. This was until January 2021, when we found out that he was dying, completely out of the blue.
2021: "Visiting" Qatar
Just three months after the start of his symptoms and a tragic diagnosis, my father passed away at the end of April 2021. I desperately needed hope, so my son and I boarded a plane and arrived in Doha on 24 May 2021. Because 24 has always been a lucky number for me, I knew that travelling to Qatar on such a special day would be a positive experience for our family.
After the pandemic changed our initial plans, we found ourselves a year later confused and unable to decide whether to end our story with Qatar or continue it. So, when my son and I arrived here, we planned to remain for a month to see whether we liked it. If all went well, we would travel to Europe for the summer and return to Qatar in September. Once again, our plans were shifting at a breakneck rate.
Sun, Sand, and New Possibilities
At first glance, Doha seemed to be a lovely city with its beaches, shopping malls, and locations like The Pearl-Qatar and Souq Waqif. Still, anytime we left our apartment, the heat was a cruel awakening. And the humidity seemed to only add insult to injury, especially during the summer (though later in the year, when Europe was freezing, the temperatures in Qatar were more than delightful!).
Despite the hot summer weather, we felt that the people of Qatar really knew how to make expats feel at home in their country, and this aspect helped us a lot. Although I soon started to get used to the new climate, I still felt that my healing process was somehow stagnating. So, I decided to look for an exciting job that would take my mind off things and give me a new purpose. It helped that my husband was already here, as he knew the town, the locations, and pretty much everything else. We moved into an apartment by the beach, went out as much as possible, and I soon found a job! Success!
Now, almost a year later, I think back on everything I’ve been through recently, and it feels like I lived (and am still living) someone else’s life. My life, especially pre-Covid, was starkly different to how it is now. I used to take the subway every day, where it was hard to breathe because so many people were going to and from work. I ate pretzels while answering several emails and went to meetings in small rooms with bad ventilation. Of course, there were all the glamorous events I’d attend back then as a blogger, such as product launches and fashion shows, but the negative feelings always won out.
The GCC Lifestyle
My life today is clearly very different from what it used to be, and it has its pros and cons. Nevertheless, one of the things I like about this region is the strong sense of law and order. Everyone understands that they need to follow the rules. Understandably, some of them may feel rigid and difficult at first, but their significance becomes clear after a while. To me, all relationships need limits and boundaries to function properly, including the ones we have with the countries we live in. So this structure is ideal for me.
Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Doha is one of the safest cities in the world. And because I’ve always been concerned about my family’s safety, I believe this country is the best place for me to live. Unlike back home, where I was constantly on the lookout, I am completely unafraid to go anywhere, at any time. A lost item will be found exactly where you left it, and no one will take it from your hands because nearly everyone here follows the rules.
2022: To Be Continued
Living and working in another country can feel difficult, particularly at first. It is also not uncommon for exposure to new environments and cultures and being surrounded by people from all over the globe to leave us feeling bewildered and yearning for the comfort of our home countries.
We have dealt with similar challenges as a family. Still, we have decided that as long as we are all together, we can ride out this adventure and observe how our journey in Qatar unfolds.