Monday, March 7, 2011

You are 'Here'

*The world is such a small place. This time last year, I was feasting on chicken pad Thai with my beautiful Geordie colleague Laura, in one of the dodgiest** joints in town. Fast forward almost twelve months and things couldn’t be more different. We’ve just come back from the same Thai place, but Laura’s only here on holiday. She’s packed up and moved to Australia.
Yet there we sat, her and I, over basil prawns and mango coolers, roles completely reversed. She’s now living in my home, I’ve been trying to move to hers (the UK) and our meeting ground is here. Most of you will know that ‘here’ is Doha, Qatar for me. For those of you who still don’t… pay more attention. And read this:
[kah-tahr, kuh-tahr]
An emirate on the Persian Gulf; British protectorate until the termination of UK treaty in 1971, 22,000 sq. km in size, capital: Doha.
To be honest, if you don’t know where/what Qatar is by now, I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under. Asides from the peninsula’s recent 2022 World Cup conquest (deal with it and move on), you may also have heard of the recent Harrods acquisition via Qatar Holdings, the investment arm of the state’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (see: fancy cars clamped outside Harrods). Qatar’s investments in the UK are many and hefty; if you’re interested, look it up.
If you follow my blog at all you’ll have noticed that I have mixed emotions about life here. It’s not easy and it’s not my first choice, but it’s the most logical and realistically, the most career- oriented decision I could have made. Please find below other lovely perks of living in Qatar:
1. Non existent income tax – I make what the average young professional would in the UK, the only difference is, my salary is tax free. Furthermore, Qatar is home to the third largest gas reserve and a GDP per capita that ranks amongst the highest worldwide. This should typically translate to a higher quality of life.
2. Gas is cheap – I currently work a mere 10km from home. However, due to largely unyielding circumstances (mainly the 45 degree+ weather, 10 months of the year) walking this distance would be akin to a suicide mission. Although driving here can be a bit of a nightmare, seeing as the average family holds a ratio of people to cars of 4:4, expense is not an issue. Being the expansive gas reserve that it is, the commodity is cheap as chips. I fill up my car weekly (I drive a 2006 KIA Sorento) for 50 Qatari riyals. That’s the equivalent of GBP 8, even in light of the current unrest in North Africa.
3. Geographically adept – I love Australia. It’s pretty much my favourite place to be in the whole world (bar London). However, Australia is pretty much the definition of ‘middle of nowhere’ and travel isn’t easy when you happen to live in woop woop (see: Aussie slang). Qatar on the other hand is conveniently located smack dab in the middle of the world (imagine the earth was flat, pretty much the middle). A mere 7 hour flight from the furthest European location, it’s a lot easier getting around the Northern hemisphere from here than it is from down under.
4. Sunshine – I forgot what rain feels like. Now, I don’t quite know if that’s a good or bad thing, but I suppose you always want what you can’t have. I do love the sunshine, and Qatar provides ample amounts of vitamin D pretty much the whole year round. Winter brings a refreshing chill at a crisp 10 degrees, with most expatriates still frequenting much of the country’s beaches/pools at the coolest of temperatures.
This post initially continued on to discuss the issues that have risen regarding the 2022 WC concerns. I’m not going to bore you with that because it’s all been said before, and well, it’s in eleven years, so we’ll deal with it all later. For now, I’d like some interaction. Leave me a comment introducing yourself, where you are, how you get there and where in the world you’d like to be right now if you could choose. In the words of Lara Bingle, “So where the bloody hell are ya?” (see: awesome tourism campaign).

*the feet in the photograph are NOT the author's. I repeat, NOT. 
**most delicious


  1. Some interesting facts there. My dad has worked in Qatar on a few occasions although I don't think it would be possible to compare his experiences to anyone that actually lives there.

    If I could live anywhere, it would be Tokyo. Clean, efficient, technologically advanced, nice people and so on.

    Bored of England. May go traveling.

  2. I like this. I'm kicking things off:

    I live in Manchester. I used to live in Abu Dhabi. If you read the post, you'll know it as a slightly bigger but not too dissimilar place to Qatar, a short 40 minute flight away. Lots of money, natural resources, money and natural resources. And food.

    Manchester is the polar opposite to Qatar. Lots of income tax, expensive petrol, geographically not too bad, only 2 hours from London but with little sunshine and lots of rain.

    But it's home. It has defined a lot of what I am. My interests, my music (I don't think it's a lie that from maybe 1985-1995 it was the home of one of the world's hottest music scenes), attitude, sport. It's a pretty creative city in parts, pretty dull in others. You make of it what you want.

    One of Manchester's heroes Ian Brown once said: Manchester: It's got everything but a beach.

    It's true you know.