I left you the other day with the thoughts of things I dislike. Of course, living in the desert is not all doom and gloom (for it’s too sunny, you see).

Doha Likes:

1. Living with Hubby – I’m contractually obliged to have this on the list (plus he’s in the room as I type this). No longer do I have to pack an overnight bag, travel between houses, or buy duplicates. What? Were you expecting something more romantic? He feeds me too.

2. The Sun – “the sun will come out tomorrow” and the day after and the day after that. Apparently it occasionally rains, and when it does mothers are scared of their children getting wet and therefore getting sick. Even when the weather is ‘bad’ it’s usually mist or dust, or perhaps a little windy, but the sun is still visible. Every city looks better when the sun shines, plus it means I get my dose of vitamin D and avoid the SAD.

3. Fresh n Fruity – being devoid of booze is OK by me, and what I love is their replacement with fresh, fruity, tasty drinks. Non-alcoholic mojitos in various flavours, fresh fruit cocktails with layers of mango, strawberry, melon, avocado (yes, avocado!). They are delicious!

4. The Local – as mentioned, the shopping mall is a short walk away. While I dislike the shopping part, I do appreciate the fact we have a large supermarket so close to us. No longer do I have to battle the small Metro or Express and complain when they don’t have everything I need!

4a. Condoms – yeah yeah, laugh away, but seriously, I was surprised that condoms are so freely available. Sex is illegal unless you’re married (it’s only illegal if you get caught), so imagine my surprise on Valentine’s day to see a large display of condoms in the local supermarket. For such a conservative society, the fact these are available on the promo aisle with a large sign ‘Prices from the Heart’ was pretty liberal. Of course, we can all imagine what’s going on behind closed doors, so it’s good to see they acknowledge this and take sexual health seriously.

5. The Corniche – while walking is generally not the done thing, you can walk along the 7.5km stretch of the corniche, a wide pedestrian footpath which wraps around the bay. As you meander you take in the smell of the ocean, the old against the backdrop of the new, the beautiful architecture, and the dhow boats covered in fairy lights, bobbing along awaiting passengers. It’s also a great place to people watch – groups of men holding hands, women walking, listening to music and talking in groups, people exercising on the free outdoor equipment, and children cycling with their training wheels on.

Image

West Bay, Doha from across the Corniche
KiwiinQatar, November 2012

6. Souq WaqifSouq Waqif is the main souq/market in Doha. Apparently it is the most touristy, but there are so many locals in the souq you cannot really tell. The smell of spices surrounds you as you wander through. You can sit, eat, drink, and people watch.

7. Taxis – taxis are cheap here, with the minimum cost of 10QR, less than £2 or NZ$4. Imagine getting a car to yourself for less than the price of a zone 1 journey on the tube!

8. Driving – driving is a definite option here, once which I am still seriously considering. Yes, it seems intimidating, but the fact that it’s a real prospect is exciting.

9. Family Oriented – the Doha lifestyle actually reminds me of life in New Zealand. Qatar is one of the safest countries in the world (probably due to the fact that if you do anything wrong you can be deported immediately). It’s also a very family focussed culture. This means families are out together, children can wander further away from their parents without need to worry, groups of families are picnicking along the corniche, and everything is quite relaxed. It’s a contrast from London where parents are paranoid, rushing and tense. While I don’t have a family [Hubby has been threatened if he says ‘not yet’ again] I can appreciate that this wouldn’t be a bad place to have one.

10. Shiny and New – I’m still a newbie in Doha, there’s so much more to do and see. Cultural differences to understand and respect. Other countries to travel to. People to meet. And that’s pretty exciting.

“This is the dream and we’re living it.” – Hubby

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