Top Ten.

Parking, Qatar style

Some of these are complete contradictions of each other but it’s my blog so I can write what I want :p

Top 10 things I will miss about Qatar

1. Driving; despite all of the dangers and complaints, I like driving (you can take the girl out of America but you can’t take America out of the girl) and I’ll miss my car and the open road.

2. Being able to go for a run outside in February (or October, November, December, January, March and April for that matter) and not having to wear any combination of hat, neck warmer/scarf, gloves and wooly socks.

3. Being able to sunbathe.  My idea of the perfect holiday is sitting in the sun for 2 weeks and gently frying my skin to a golden brown.  I like to be tan, I like to be warm, and I like that I was able to sun myself in Qatar for 9 out of 12 months of the year….I NEVER sunbathe in London, what would be the point, it’ll only be cold and raining the next day.

4. Taking cabs door to door and thus being able to wear high heels on a night out because I didn’t have to walk 10 minutes to the nearest Tube station.

5. The avocado juice shake from Al Mandarin.

6. The manakeesh from Al Sultan.

7. The all you can eat/drink brunches.

8. The space.  I had drawers and cupboards in my apartment that I didn’t even use!

9. Washing my bed sheets, hanging them outside and having them be dry in like an hour.

10. The friends I’ve made; you all have an open invitation to visit me in London in fact, I will be seriously upset if you don’t take me up on the offer!

 

Top 10 things I will NOT miss about Qatar

1. Spending an average of £50 on a week’s shopping while not even being that extravagant; I can’t wait to shop at Lidl again, and one of the first things I’m going to do once back in London is go to Brixton market and buy some proper, seasonal fruit and veg.

2. Paying for expensive meals out that are average, at best.  I don’t mind paying good money for good food and service but my dining experiences in Qatar were very rarely exceptional.

3. The worst internet connection on the planet…which I pay the equivalent of about £50/month for the privilege of having.

4. The inherent lack of respect on the roads and blatant disregard for driving rules and regulations.  I never want to see another child sitting on his father’s lap, in the driver’s seat, as he speeds through a roundabout, ever again.

5. Roundabouts, a pox on the landscape, just build some proper f’ing intersections already, will you?  Oh, and speed bumps, the national pastime of Qatar should be driving over speed bumps.

6. Complete disregard for queuing; line, what line?  Why would I need to take my place at the end of the line when I can just jump in front of everyone else.

7. The class system, the white elephant in the room.  This is that proverbial ‘whole other blog post’ that I keep referring to.  The working conditions in Qatar and the way some people treat hired help and others ‘below’ them makes me seriously ill.

8. Not being understood by people, or not understanding people.

9. The Traffic Department.

10. Having to get a signed permission slip from my employer to get a license/phone/buy a bottle of gin; I can’t wait to get back to England and be treated like a responsible adult.

and one more for good measure….

11. Not being able to find information about anything official; pretty much everything I learned about the way things function in Qatar and how to go about buying, obtaining, renewing things, etc. I learned from the personal blogs of others.

Make me an offer

For sale, good price, do you want a ‘better’ photo?

Oh qatarliving.com online community, how you amuse me so!

As you know, I’m selling pretty much the entire contents of my apartment and when trying to sell anything in Qatar, the first port of call is always qatarliving.com.  The day I posted my ad, my phone rang practically non stop for 8 hours; I woke up the next morning to find 5 new texts and about 10 emails sent between 2-5am.  I cannot even begin to explain the frenzy that ensued after I said I had the entire Twilight series of books (don’t judge) to give away for free.

This is good, yes, there is a lot of interest, but filtering the serious buyers from the jokers means that only about 10% of people who contact me actually make it to my place to see the stuff.  Selling things online is usually a bit of an adventure, even more so when you’re dealing with people whose first language isn’t English.

I’ve gotten a few emails asking me for ‘photos and prices’ of the items I listed on qatarliving.  Um, hello try checking the photos and prices that are in the ad that you got my contact details from.  Others want ‘better photos’ than those on qatarliving…how can I make them better?  Like professional photos?  Give me a break, just come by and see the things in person.

One guy called me while I was at work and was really interested in getting a photo of my hand blender.  As I hadn’t taken a photo of this I told him I would do so once I got home.  I think he called me another 3-4 times before I was able to send that photo (‘Hello, are you home now? I think you are home now, I am waiting for the photo of the hand blender’).  He liked it and said he would come by to pick it up….he never showed.

One text informed me that, ‘that’s expensive considering you can get a new one for 500QR’.  Yes, thanks, I know exactly what you’re referring to.  People have also put in ridiculous offers for things they haven’t even seen yet.  And I’m curious to know if that bachelor will follow through and buy my outdoor furniture to put in his living room (‘I think it’s fine for inside, yes’?  Sure dude, if you pay for it, you can do whatever you want with it).

Also, sorry, I really can’t help you if you live in Doha and don’t know where the Pearl is.

There’s still more that needs to go so I’ll refresh the ad for the weekend and start the entire process over again.  I may need to lower some prices because I want to be furniture free by this time next week; I have a little over 2 weeks (!) left to go so it’s time to sell, sell, sell!!!

Sale of the Century!!

So as it turns out, my landlord will NOT be buying any of the items in my apartment because his new tenants already have their own stuff.

Bummer.

And kind of a big hassle because it would have been nice to get rid of everything in one go (although judging by the insult offer my landlord gave me on the sofa, I might not have wanted to sell him anything).

That leaves me with an entire apartment, filled with really nice things, that are all up FOR SALE!!!!!

If the search terms people use to find my blog are anything to go by (City Centre opening hours, selling liquor in Qatar, where to find a call girl in Doha) I’m guessing all sorts could potentially find their way here so I’m advertising my wares in the hopes that someone might like what they see and make me an offer.

Go for it….

For Sale

A World Away

Me and the bottom of the Burj

I went to Dubai last weekend and had a blast.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to squeeze in a trip to the Emirate before I left Qatar but a plan came together at the 11th hour…and I’m so glad it did.

The sole purpose of this trip was to hit up one last brunch before Ramadan (ie no alcohol in Qatar), which begins this Friday.  Yes, we could have had one last brunch in Doha but in Dubai, some of the brunches are special and serve real champagne, not that sparkling wine nonsense you get in Qatar.  Travelling all the way to Dubai for a brunch may seem a bit ridiculous (and expensive) to some but after you’ve lived here for a while, sometimes you just need a complete change of scenery.

And this wasn’t just any champagne brunch, it was a Moët rosé champagne brunch; if there’s one thing I like better than free-flowing champagne, it’s free-flowing pink champagne and at the Fairmont in Dubai my glass was never empty thus making this brunch spectacular.

In our whirlwind visit I saw a brunch, a bar, a nightclub, the Burj, a mall, and a souk, so pretty much all you need to see in Dubai.  I ate delicious dumplings, lobster, black cod, macarons, eton mess, sticky toffee pudding and pancakes, drank my fair share of the above mentioned pink fizz and also knocked back some excellent cocktails.  Needless to say, I found the entire experience to be extremely enjoyable.

Although I was only in Dubai for a weekend, it struck me as a place where things get done, and done properly.  All levels of society seem to exist in Dubai and you get a healthy mix of people, in a range of positions, who know their jobs and how to do them well.  I find it strange that it takes leaving Qatar for a little bit to make something so insignificant as a Dubai mall security guard speaking perfect English to make such an impression.  I don’t think it’s fair of me to try to compare Qatar to Dubai because that would be a whole ‘apples and oranges’ situation but I really do wonder if Qatar will ever be able to catch up to or compete with its Emirati neighbors.

Doha is definitely changing quickly though and in a few years time it might resemble an entirely different city…..I’m just glad I won’t have to be living here to find out.

It’s all starting to feel so real now

Choice words from the Qatar Traffic Department

Where was I?  Oh yes, planning my escape.

I sold my car yesterday, it was a bittersweet moment.  On the one hand I’m happy to have that task done because it’s one less thing to worry about but on the other hand, it was so sad to have to say goodbye to that little black beauty that served me so well.  She’s gone to a good home though and I’m happy for the time we had together, both the highs and the lows.  I actually thought that the whole ‘car registration/insurance/change of owner’ episode would be an entire blog post but the experience went so smoothly I’m almost waiting for someone to call me back to the Traffic Dept. because something went wrong.

Either way, letting go of my car makes leaving Qatar seem very very real.

Thursday 16th August will be my last day at work and I’ll fly back to London within a day or two after that.  That’s a little under 6 weeks left here and in that time I still need to sort out selling all the furniture I bought and shipping what I want to keep back to the UK.  There will be bills to finalise, accounts to close, contracts to cancel and some emotional ‘good byes’ to say.  I’ll also need to get like 2 years worth of pool/sunbathing time in as prospects elsewhere are bleak.

I’ve tallied up my alcohol reserves too and, at present, there are 4 bottle of spirits, 9 bottles of wine and 16 beers left in my possession.  If my calculations are correct, I’ll need to drink roughly 2/3 bottle of spirits, 1.5 bottles of wine and 2.7 beers each week until I leave…or throw a really wicked dinner party.