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Doha Dad Talks: Overcoming the Challenges of Expat Parenting

by Brett Roberts

Being a Dad in Doha for me has been full of challenges and rewards. Prior to living in Qatar, we lived in Canada, and I was the stay-at-home parent to three young girls. When we moved for my wife’s position, I knew this would continue but would be full of changes with a new country, home, and culture. I don’t think I could have anticipated the challenges that were also thrust upon us with Covid taking over most of the world.

The first challenge was simply getting the kids enrolled in school! In Canada, your children usually attend the school in the area where you live. When I arrived here, there were so many choices it was overwhelming, along with all the different curricula. Then, once you pick some schools, you need to grapple with entry requirements and testing before gaining entry. I recall the stress and disappointment from trying to go through this process. When all three children were accepted into the same school, I was ready to throw a party, but this also started my next challenge: transportation for the kids.

The second challenge was getting my license so we could get out and explore the area and get to school and back daily. I had been driving for over 20 years at home and took for granted the freedom I had. For the first couple of months, we were at the mercy of Uber or being stuck in our compound. But I was also very fortunate to end up meeting other expats who helped me get around before obtaining my license. Yet, watching them manoeuvre the city made me question if I was ready for driving in Doha. To get my license, I had to complete a written exam and complete a driving exam. Thankfully, I passed on my first try, and I was free again! Now, two years later, I could put some Uber and cab drivers to shame with my skills.

We overcame many other challenges in the first two years here, which helped make Doha feel like home for us. I’m sure those challenges are similar to what other expats face when they first arrive in Qatar. The big plus that I found here is that there are many dads here, including those who are at home with their children. I think this would be the opposite of what most people would think of the region.

Plus, learning that was great, as it gave me people to socialise with and figure out the lay of the land in Qatar. It also helped the kids as they had friends quickly after moving, which helped them settle in. The other big bonus is that Doha is set up for young families, so this also helps with keeping the kids busy and entertained.

We now feel at home and enjoy our daily life in Doha. We can’t wait for Covid to be over so we can once again see friends and hopefully welcome some family to our home.

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