Ingrid Masselink Andreas made the leap from the tourism dense, bustling and gambling Chinese city of Macau, to the desert sands of Doha when her husband was offered a job here some three years ago. The transition was not all smooth and it took some time to adjust to the new terrain with her two twin boys but she has never looked back. She shares her family’s story of settling in to Doha expat lifestyle.
Where are you originally from?
Wassenaar, The Netherlands—a very different picture to Doha.
How long have you lived in Doha and how long are you planning to stay?
We have been here three years now and we will probably be another year and half.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
We have been living as expats for seven years now so that aspect is not new. The move was sometimes time consuming, however overall not too challenging.
What are the best things to do in the area, anything to recommend to future expats?
We enjoy many outings as a family. We enjoy driving out the desert and Inland sea or Zekreet. We never get tired of the Museum of Islamic Art, the souqs and MATAF Museum. There is a lot of culture here if you keep in touch with what is going on.
How does the cost of living compare to your homeland?
It is very much alike; living here is not cheap and will also increase as more people move to Doha.
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
We miss the greenery. We still haven’t gotten used to the summer temperatures, which makes entertaining the children challenging.
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Education is important. Plan and arrange your children’s school before your move. Choosing a school stipulates which accommodation you will look into as trekking across town can be very tiresome for everyone. Do your research on accommodation. If you place your name down at several compounds and keep in touch with them they eventually will reply to you and hopefully have something to offer.
What are your top expat tips for anyone moving to Doha?
Prepare yourself for the ‘inshallah’ mentality. It is engrained in the culture. It is a fast growing city that has just recently opened its doors to the outside world so there a lot of adjustments in the process. Customer service is a new concept. Also keep calm in Doha traffic. As buildings are being built and new roads planned for the increasing demand of facilities, there are roadworks in every corner. Soak in your surroundings and enjoy your time here by meeting new people and discovering what there is on offer. Try and pick up your hobby or try a new one so that you have a good work/family/life balance.
Are there any areas expats should avoid?
Nothing too serious, however maybe women should watch what they wear and at times where they go alone.
How would you rate the healthcare in Doha?
Public healthcare is very much on demand. With long waiting hours, clinics are always full. There are many special centres opening up around the city (for children with special needs, etc.).
Would you do it all again? Is there anything with hindsight you would have done differently?
No, not really. I am enjoying my time here and meeting lots of friendly people.
Where do you travel on holidays?
We are travelling around the region while we are here. We have visited UAE, Oman, Sri Lanka and Kenya and of course we go back home to Holland.
Nine-and-a-half-year-old twin brothers Jordi and Leon answered:
What is the best part of living in Doha?
W love where we live. I can go to my friends’ house anytime and we have so many facilities here so I don’t have to bug Mum to take us out anywhere.
Where is your favourite place to go on weekends?
We love to go to Zekreet and the inland sea. We also love the water sports and pools at the Ritz and Hilton.
What is the best part of living in Doha?
When we go camping as it’s so peaceful out in the desert and we see so many stars. We also love going to Aquapark.
What do you miss the most about Holland?
My cousins and Grandma
What would you like to see more of in Doha for children?
More camping grounds with facilities like BBQ, toilets and fenced off areas (so you don’t get run over by 4WD). Maybe a Kidzania like Dubai so we can do wood work and create and a ski dome for snowboarding.
Mr Andreas answered:
What is your occupation?
I am in hospitality with the Shangri-La Hotel chain.
What is the best part of working in Doha?
There is a lot of opportunity for growth in this region and a stable and growing economy.
Do you have any hobbies or activities you do regularly that you would not have normally done back home?
I play the drums and enjoy spending quality time with my family outdoors in the desert or by the sea.
Did you think your family and children settled into the Doha move easily?
Every transition has not been simple. We are getting better at it though and every move is character building.