What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I came to Qatar with fantasies of eating shawarma and smoking shisha poolside with my new Qatari friends. How funny reality is, as I have literally done none of that poolside. Sure I've eaten all the shawarma, and smoked a few shishas. But I've made zero Qatari friends. In fact the best friends I've made here are Canadian, Lebanese and Indian. Go figure.

What I really wish I had known a few years back is how isolating and cold Qatar can be. I wish I had known how little there is to do here most every weekend and weeknight. I wish someone had whispered us the old adage that "Doha's is what you make of it. It's a make-your-own-fun kinda post."

Like the Qatari women, this is a veiled and very private tribal society that isn't welcoming to outsiders. - May 2017


How little there is to discover. - May 2017


I wish I had known how bad the air quality was and how hard it is to do anything here. I was prepared for a lot of the flaws of Qatar, but those two have really been the biggest pains for me (literally! I'm in constant pain from the dust and pollution). If you have a full-time maid or stay-at-home spouse who can take care of a lot of the necessities of life for you, it's probably okay, but for me having to do all that by myself it's just not possible with a full-time job. Just going to the grocery store is a several-hours expedition. When I first arrived and tried to register a car it took 3 or 4 hour+ visits to the traffic department. In order to pay my phone and cable bills I have to physically go to an Ooredoo store and wait in line for usually an hour. And anytime you go anywhere you have to allow at least 30 minutes each way for driving (even if it's only a mile away; if it's on the other side of the city that'll be an hour drive, at least), plus another 20+ minutes for finding parking and getting into the location. Then of course when you get there that store won't have what you need, so you'll have to spend another 2 hours going somewhere else. And they won't have it either. And you'll nearly die 3 times on the way. - Feb 2015


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