Living In QATAR - An Honest Experience

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Qatar, as I remember is a place populated with money hungry or needy expats. Certainly, what really could motivate a migrant worker or a senior working professional live in a climate of scorching heat, a Muslim culture devoid of humane freedom and a land that does not treat it’s visitors with dignity. Money free of tax or a better job role? Although, Qatar does not have anything of it’s own, even the food, groceries and clothes are imported from other countries viz. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, China etc. And this is not only limited to the goods and merchandises but also to the work force who opt to travel to Qatar from these countries in the sheer hope of making their lives better.



Daily Lifestyle in Doha

Doha is the only major city in Qatar and a majority of the country’s population is that of expats. Qataris form a small population and enjoy the apex position in the Qatari society. Qatar does not provide citizenship to people of other nationalities despite their decades of stay in the country. I have noticed that most of the top positions in the local Qatari organizations are acquired by local men and women. English may not be always the official language at work and you may many a times encounter several Qatari co-workers speaking in Arabic language. Qataris are relaxed people and overall work culture is slow. Do not get bothered too much if work is not moving fast or simple decisions take unusually long time. This is the way work happens in this satisfied, rich country.

Life of an average migrant worker in Qatar is boring. If you are single, living in Doha, be prepared for this boredom as neither the climate nor the places outside are that appealing. Expat population is quite high in Doha and you could very well make friends easily here since there are many more expats like you getting bored to death. Walking around the Doha Corniche in the evening may be relaxing but being a single Asian male, I had some bad experiences of being ill-treated by a Qatari guard around Corniche. Well, do not necessarily take this as a humiliation since this is quite common in Qatar as there are several places in the city where single bachelors alone or in groups cannot roam around esp. on Fridays. Most Qatari men can legally marry up to four women and most commonly do not like anyone of them being ogled by other men. Hence, most of the places in Doha are reserved only for families.

A daily life of a migrant construction worker is pathetic in Doha. They are often exploited, overworked and most of the times enslaved by their employers. I have tried communicating with few of these workers and have seen their homes which brought nothing but sympathy in my mind. An average construction worker often stays in Qatar for several years saving money and sending it to their families. For most of such families, their man slogging in Qatar is the sole means of bread and butter yet unsure when he could return home. These construction workers work in extreme and adverse climatic conditions and often die every day yet unnoticed. It is said that work must stop if the temperatures rise beyond 50 degree Celsius but authorities never declare such things to meet their deadlines.

I observed that Non-Muslim Women have a better freedom of clothing in cities like Doha. However, it still needs to be remembered that Qatar is still a part of the Middle East and women are expected to cover their knees and shoulders while in public. Men are expected to avoid a prolonged eye contact with a woman and maintain sufficient distance while communicating with women at work.

Places to Visit in Qatar

Fanar - Qatar Islamic Cultural Center
There are merely a handful of places you can visit in Doha. The best time to go out in Qatar is between November and March since the climate is rather favorable during this period. Between April and October, the place remains as hot as hell. People who have never visited the middle east regions just can’t imagine the kind of extremity of the temperature.

There are several Islamic cultural centers in Qatar and even people of other religions and beliefs are encouraged to visit these places. I would rather encourage you to visit the Fanar, which is Qatar’s Islamic Cultural Center spreading awareness about Qatar’s culture to Non-Arab population. The Fanar is an iconic structure of Qatar with a beautiful Arabic architecture. There are also some Arabic language courses available in case it is a matter of someone’s interest.

The Dukhan beach, around 60 kms. from Doha is the most visited picnic spot among the locals and expats alike. It is by far the best hangout I have found in Qatar. The Dukhan beach is an ideal place to have a barbeque party for families. I have even observed few European ladies bathing in the sea water in bikini here. That is something way beyond the social taboos but how far a culturally different woman wait to break free in such a wicked country? The sea water however, has considerable levels of salt content which will not let you drown for sure. But beware, you may have problems if the water enters your eyes causing irritation and discomfort. The Dukhan beach is a very good place to enjoy water sports. Several rich locals own their own speed boats and other water sport equipment. These may also be rented for a ride.

Dukhan Beach, Qatar
The Pearl Qatar is a well-constructed place in Qatar and is a good place for a weekend visit. It is a home for several International brands the prominent being the Ferrari showroom just at the entrance gate of the Pearl Qatar. It is also said that other nationalities can own their property at the Pearl Qatar however these are too expensive. Visitors can enjoy cruise rides and some adventure water sports at the Pearl Qatar. The view of the Doha skyline offered by the Pearl is just as beautiful as that seen from the Corniche. While in Qatar the Pearl is a place just too good to miss.


Doha Skyline as seen from the Corniche
Souq Waqif is the shopping destination of Doha. Souq literally translates to a market and Souq Waqif translates to a Standing market. It is at a 10 min walking distance from the Fanar and also from the Corniche. Shopping enthusiasts could enjoy shopping traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, perfumes and souvenirs at the Souq. Astonishingly, I also found live animals and birds including lizards, owls, eagles, tortoises etc. for sale at the Souq. The Souq also offers premium range of Hukka bars and I found many locals and expats hooked up smoking at these parlors. In the evenings, you may get a change to enjoy a traditional Arabic folk dance at the Souq. Within the Souq, there is also a small exhibition of paintings depicting the glorious Arabic culture. The shopkeepers are friendly and will be interested in providing information about products they sell. However, this place may be restricted for single men at times esp. on Fridays which is supposed to be a family day in Doha.

A Breathtaking View Of The Sea & The Sand from a Sand Dune
A Half or Full day Desert Safari towards the south of Qatar along the Saudi Arabia border will also come to your rescue if you are craving for a much needed break from the mundane life at Qatar. There are quite a few tourist companies who offer a pick up and drop to and fro the Desert Safari. If you are a group of 4-5 members, you can hire a Land Cruiser or a similar vehicle and get drenched into the wilderness of the white desert along the salty blue sea. Watch the experienced driver inflating the tyres of the Land Cruiser and driving you along the edges of the sand dunes to take away the *hit away from your *ss. This is by far my best experience of being in Qatar. During sunset, the deep blue sea looks breathtakingly beautiful from the sand dunes. During winter days, the desert almost turns into a cold hell. There are packages available for an overnight stay in the desert tents which is an experience in itself.

Accommodation in Qatar

Most of the migrant workers in Qatar live single for a simple reason that it is not so easy to get a Visa for a family. I have recently noticed that for some reason, Qatar has started rejecting Visa for female workers. Moreover, the cost of accommodation in Doha is very high. Most expats in Qatar share accommodation and live in a poor and unhygienic conditions. However, In case you are a senior executive hired by a local Company in Qatar, arranging visa for the family becomes easier. Most of the apartments and condominiums are owned by local agencies or a local Qatari who could charge huge rent for a decent accommodation. Nearly, all places in the country look the same hence, it is worthless to search a locality where you could find your home. I would suggest you could opt a place to live near your office.

Food and Grocery Options

Since 90% of the food and groceries are imported, you would find the same food options that you had in your home country but with a much higher price. There are several high rated food brands and joints in Doha along with local small Malabari restaurants mostly owned by Indians (Keralites) and Nepalis. Sometimes, it may become difficult to find a Vegetarian option in these restaurants. Chicken, Pork and Beef based food items are abundantly available. Khabus and Hamus (Arabic breads) are the cheapest subsidized food options available for the poor. However, they are tasteless and cannot be taken as a daily food option. Most commonly, there are several Filipino and Indian restaurants serving good food all over Doha.

The municipal water supply is good however, drinking water needs to be purchased which may cost you QAR 8 to 10 for a bottle of 5 liters.

Transportation and Communication

With fuel being dirt cheap in the country, owning a car becomes inevitable for another good reason that Public transportation is still in the state of infancy. There are local buses plying in Doha but their frequency cannot be trusted much. Locals and some expats are much fond of cars and tend to spend much on speedy, high end machines on the roads. When it comes to roads, these are the most unsafe places in the country. I have noticed that most locals drive like maniacs almost unbothered of pedestrians walking or crossing the streets. This, just explains their disregard for human life and a boastful attitude of possessing great wealth.

Speaking on cellular phones is very expensive and a single phone call for a minute could cost half a Qatari Riyal. A little study on highly expensive telecommunication industry gave me an answer that the sector like several other sectors is dominated by the King of Qatar and it is him who decides the price you pay for speaking to your loved ones. Broadband Internet services rates are also higher than normal.

Education in Qatar

I believe that it is a good sign that middle eastern countries like Qatar is giving more emphasis on quality education. There are several Public and Private institutions providing good education to the children. However, the Public Schools and Colleges are confined to Arabic curriculum. Private schools and colleges have American or British curriculum in studies. Qatar encourages hiring of qualified teachers and educationalists in its quest to impart good education to its people.

Well, with all those mixed experiences of observing the life of an average expat in Qatar, I conclude that human life is certainly much more than craving for money. The State of Qatar is one of the richest countries due to its enormous natural wealth of oil reserves. Its GDP will remain strong for several decades to come; which is nothing but easy money for sure. Qatar is still totally dependent on other countries for its simple daily needs and I am sure given the adverse climate it will always continue to. It must learn to recognize humanity above materialistic wealth and religious beliefs.

6 comments :

  1. Are you new in Qatar? So much dejection like!!! :)

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  2. Not really Sushma! I had been a frequent traveler to this place and these experiences are just an outcome of it. Never felt like settling down in here for all the reasons I have expressed :)

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Akshay! Where are you these days?

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  4. yes i wanna living in Qatar for education propose. so much surprising and for me such develop Ireland in the world.

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