Archives for the month of: February, 2014

Inserting myself into a new country and culture has had its ups and downs. Here’s to the good stuff!

1.       Lifestyle

Life in Qatar feels similar to life in New Zealand. You can live a sleepy life or you can hunt out loads of weird and wonderful things to do. Take up opportunities as they arise, say yes more often, and just try it. I’ve seen far more sport, classical music, ballet, opera, and Tom Jones than I ever thought I would. There’s more to Qatar than shopping.

2.       Change

SO MUCH CHANGE. Everywhere you look – infrastructure, new buildings, new strategies, systems, processes. Qatar is trying to squeeze what other countries have done over the course of decades, if not centuries, into a few short years. We are pioneers in the land of change.

3.       Culture

I am fortunate in this land flooded with expats to work with a large percentage of Qataris. It’s amazing to see their passion and keenness to take on new challenges in areas never experienced before. The locals are not afraid of speaking up or complaining directly to Ministers, and expectations of services are high. You soon get used to seeing and recognizing people in abayas, niqabs and thobes, and understanding and respecting their religion and morals attached to those.

4.       New Friendships

Entering into a strange land, knowing only your partner forces you to meet new people. We’re in a strange category of people here; not party-goers, nor parents, we seem to be the lost group. To make new friends you must put yourself out there, go to things when invited, and invite others. We’ve made a few good friends over this last year, and 2014 has brought a fresh batch of arrivals keen to experience all Qatar has to offer!

5.       Tax Free Income

Depending on your tax obligations elsewhere, your salary is your salary, with no one taking a cut before it going into your bank account. And money can mean FUN THINGS. Or GROWN UP THINGS like saving for important life stages. It’s all a bit easier when someone else isn’t taking a giant bite of the pie.

 

Looking forward to more fun experiences and challenges in 2014.

My first year in the Middle East has flown by. While some days it seems I struggle through, the year disappeared far more quickly than expected. What I can say is that I have definitely learnt a thing or two!

 1.       No Expectations

High expectations may only lead to disappointment. Keep an open mind, set your expectations low, and enjoy the highs while learning from the lows.

 2.       Tenure

There are two categories of expats in Qatar – those who will be here a few years maximum, and those that have been here for a long time. When you meet someone who has lived here for two or more years your jaw will drop, then you meet those who have been here over 10 and it astounds you. All the while you’ll just be pushing through to adjust and survive your first year!

 3.       Simple Difficulties

Everything is more difficult than it should be. Need to open a bank account? You need a letter from your sponsor. Need to exchange your driver’s license? Another letter is required. Getting your car serviced? Yeah, that will take weeks. You’ll soon come to understand (and expect) that everything will be slightly harder than it should be. Which leads me to…

 4.       Nothing Quite Works as it Should

As above, this can make life more difficult! Come to expect the unexpected.

 5.       Death Defying Driving

Every outing on the road will be a death defying experience. If you do drive, drive with the attitude that everyone on the road is trying to kill you, that way you will never get too relaxed and will pay attention at all times.