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Now ye're talking - to a man living in Qatar

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  • 09-04-2021 9:32am
    #1
    Boards.ie Employee Posts: 12,597 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Boards.ie Community Manager


    Our next AMA candidate has lived in Qatar for a number of years. He reckons that with World Cup 2022 coming up, some people might have questions about Qatar as a place to visit, life in Qatar or maybe about the preparations being made for the World Cup 2022.

    He has emphasised that he is not a football expert :D but happy to answer what he can about life in Qatar.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,191 ✭✭✭✭Shanotheslayer


    Why did you choose to live in a country with such poor Human Rights?


  • Registered Users Posts: 224 ✭✭hello2020


    thanks for doing this .how difficult it is to get the visa? Are hotels expensive to stay in?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,709 ✭✭✭cloudatlas


    I think the World Cup will be a farce as many of the marathon runners in 2019 collapsed before the finish line. https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-everyones-a-loser-at-the-world-athletics-championships-in-qatar/a-50688080

    On the flight I was on there was a propaganda video stating that they are a major port. Seeing all the ships lit up at night in the sea as the flight went over was very beautiful.

    It's troubling that they destroyed many old historic buildings to build shiny modern buildings. I know they have an amazing library that was built by a Dutch architect I think- Do you know anything about that?

    I know someone who is gay who is a perpetual student in the u.k as they are avoiding an arranged marriage.

    How restricted are your movements, do you just go from a compound to work everyday?

    What do the locals think of how many workers died building the stadiums? Does that kind of thing every come up in conversation?


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Why did you choose to live in a country with such poor Human Rights?

    Hi and thank you for the question.

    The reason why I live in Qatar is the exact same reason why the 90% of residents who are not Qatari citizens live here - because it offered better opportunities (especially salary) for me and my family than I had in my home country (in my case, Ireland).

    I am happy to talk about what I know about human rights issues, but it is a huge subject, so is there something specific that you have in mind?


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    hello2020 wrote: »
    thanks for doing this .how difficult it is to get the visa? Are hotels expensive to stay in?

    Hi and thanks for the question.

    Visas (for EU citizens at least) are very straightforward - you get the visa on arrival at the airport. I think there is a charge of 100 Riyals (about 23 Euros).

    There is a full range of hotels, from cheap and cheerful to very luxurious (and expensive). We're too far out from the World Cup for me to guess if there'll be apartment rental options.

    There's also talk of mooring a couple of cruise liners in Doha Bay to provide additional accommodation.


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  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    cloudatlas wrote: »
    I think the World Cup will be a farce as many of the marathon runners in 2019 collapsed before the finish line. https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-everyones-a-loser-at-the-world-athletics-championships-in-qatar/a-50688080

    On the flight I was on there was a propaganda video stating that they are a major port. Seeing all the ships lit up at night in the sea as the flight went over was very beautiful.

    It's troubling that they destroyed many old historic buildings to build shiny modern buildings. I know they have an amazing library that was built by a Dutch architect I think- Do you know anything about that?

    I know someone who is gay who is a perpetual student in the u.k as they are avoiding an arranged marriage.

    How restricted are your movements, do you just go from a compound to work everyday?

    What do the locals think of how many workers died building the stadiums? Does that kind of thing every come up in conversation?

    Thanks for your questions

    So, to answer in the same order:

    The World Cup will be in November and December, when the daytime temperatures are about 25 degrees. If the games are played later in the evening to accommodate European TV schedules then the temperature will be more like 20 degrees - not a problem I think for professional athletes.

    Qatar has built a new and very large port in recent years - prior to that a lot of goods came through Dubai.

    Qatar is really a very new country and prior to the discovery of gas it was very poor. There are and never were any old historic buildings. The buildings that have been knocked down in recent years to make way for the newer buildings dated from the 60s and 70s. If you are interested in architecture there are some stunning new buildings - there's the library that you referred to, Jean Nouvel's National Museum, and my personal favourite, IM Pei's Museum of Islamic Art
    https://www.idesignarch.com/museum-of-islamic-art-in-doha-by-i-m-pei/
    http://www.jeannouvel.com/en/projects/musee-national-du-qatar/

    I can't talk knowledgably about what it is like to be gay in Qatar. I've never heard of people being prosecuted, but that may not mean that it hasn't happened. As for avoiding arranged marriages - my guess is that there's quite a few heterosexuals who are also permanent students for that reason!

    There are no restrictions on my movements, and I'm not aware of any restrictions on the movements of anyone else - with one caveat - the swankier shopping malls seem to have a policy of not allowing male manual labourers to go inside.

    As for the deaths in the construction sector it tends not to come up much in conversation. Depending on other questions I might do a longer post about this issue.


  • Registered Users Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭Mars Bar


    Salam Alaykum!

    Ramadan is just around the corner. How traditional is Qatar during Ramadan, discounting last year which wasn't normal and this year won't be either?

    In Abu Dhabi, mid-way through Ramadan last year, they did away with the curtains and eating behind closed doors in tourist areas and malls. They are continuing it this year much to the disgruntlement of the more devout Muslims.

    How are they dealing with PCR testing and vaccinations? UAE was swift and ruthless and it has paid off.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Mars Bar wrote: »
    Salam Alaykum!

    Ramadan is just around the corner. How traditional is Qatar during Ramadan, discounting last year which wasn't normal and this year won't be either?

    In Abu Dhabi, mid-way through Ramadan last year, they did away with the curtains and eating behind closed doors in tourist areas and malls. They are continuing it this year much to the disgruntlement of the more devout Muslims.

    How are they dealing with PCR testing and vaccinations? UAE was swift and ruthless and it has paid off.

    Hi and thanks for the question.

    My sense is that Qatar is a little more conservative than the UAE, but more liberal than, for example, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.

    During Ramadan the only restaurants where you will get food during the day are in some (but not all) of the more expensive hotels. All other restaurants, cafes, fast-food places - every food and beverage outlet - is shut during the fasting hours. The sale of alcohol is forbidden during Ramadan (but everyone who drinks alcohol will have plenty at home). So in that sense it seems to be stricter than the UAE.

    Even though I'm not a Muslim I will benefit from the shorter working day that some employments apply during Ramadan. I am often invited to suhoors and iftars - Ramadan is a time when a lot of corporate entertainment is done, but I think that this year there will be none (outside of private homes).

    As for coping with Covid, one of the first things that the government did was to introduce a contact tracing app. Unless you download the app, and your status on the app is green, you will not be allowed to enter workplaces, schools, shops, malls etc.

    The public healthcare system in Qatar is really quite good - they plough a lot of money into it, and it is free to everyone. Like a lot of Westerners I have health insurance, but that just gets me into the fancy hospitals with better food and a private room - but if I was really sick I would go to the public hospital.

    PCR tests are widely available in local health clinics. As for vaccines, Qatar has a population of 2.8m and the latest numbers say that almost 1m vaccines have been administered. However I suspect that the 300,000 Qataris have all had two jabs meaning that the other 2.5m have had 400,000 between them.

    I also suspect that the relatively wealthier westerners are getting priority. I'm in my late 50s and I've had two jabs.

    Qatar is currently experiencing its second wave of infections. The level of infections is lower than the first wave, but the hospitalisation and mortality rates seem to be higher.


  • Registered Users Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭Mars Bar


    Shukran! I would say that Bahrain and Qatar are very similar and agree that the UAE is more liberal and Saudi the least. I lived in Kuwait for a very brief period and thank my lucky stars I'm not stranded there right now. Horrible place.

    You say you are in your late 50's, how long have you been in Qatar and do you mind saying if you're a teacher or not? Were you in other areas of the Middle East first?


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Mars Bar wrote: »
    Shukran! I would say that Bahrain and Qatar are very similar and agree that the UAE is more liberal and Saudi the least. I lived in Kuwait for a very brief period and thank my lucky stars I'm not stranded there right now. Horrible place.

    You say you are in your late 50's, how long have you been in Qatar and do you mind saying if you're a teacher or not? Were you in other areas of the Middle East first?

    I have been in Qatar for more than 10 years - I'm not a teacher, nor do I work in engineering/construction. I'd guess that most Irish in Qatar are in those professions. I work as an administrator in the public sector.

    Before coming to Qatar I had never lived outside Ireland, though it was an itch that I had always wanted to scratch - and I'm glad I did.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,028 ✭✭✭Dick phelan


    Besides the obvious good salary and benefits what else do you enjoy about living in Qatar?

    Would you say you have a good cultural and social life there? Just wondering if in some ways you feel there's a lack of culture there because of so many international workers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,191 ✭✭✭✭Shanotheslayer


    Hi and thank you for the question.

    The reason why I live in Qatar is the exact same reason why the 90% of residents who are not Qatari citizens live here - because it offered better opportunities (especially salary) for me and my family than I had in my home country (in my case, Ireland).

    I am happy to talk about what I know about human rights issues, but it is a huge subject, so is there something specific that you have in mind?

    Thanks for answering. I suppose my main things surrounding Human rights are:

    1) What's the treatment of Women like over there? Persuming your family has a female do you find the treatment completely different? I don't think Qatar is known to be as bad as other countries

    2) Your mention of family, I'm assuming that's including children. What happens if one is Gay? It's illegal over there IIRC. Has this ever crossed your mind or not something you'd worry about?


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Besides the obvious good salary and benefits what else do you enjoy about living in Qatar?

    Would you say you have a good cultural and social life there? Just wondering if in some ways you feel there's a lack of culture there because of so many international workers.

    The thing that I enjoy most about living in Qatar (apart from the salary, and that's obviously why I'm here) is the opportunity to work and live in a multicultural environment.

    In my workplace we have people from all over Europe, North America and Asia as well as local Qataris. As a family we certainly have some British and Irish friends, but we don't hang out much at places where they congregate (rugby club, golf club etc.) and we don't go in so much for that expat staple - the Friday brunch! We have many friends from other European countries and India.

    We live in a mixed compound, our kids go to an international school and they have friends from all over. My daughter had 4 friends for a sleepover a while back and between them they counted that their grandparents had come from 14 different countries.

    I guess that living in Qatar has bee good for me, but I was sorta "fully baked" when I got here. Our sojourn here will have had a much bigger impact on our kids, who are now so-called third-culture kids.

    Regarding culture - I guess there is a lot of different culture in Qatar. Even though I've been here 10 years I can't tell you a lot about Qatari culture - the language barrier is a big problem, but equally so too is the fact that the Qataris keep very much to themselves. I have never been in a Qatari home.

    For western culture, particularly if you like classical music, this is a great place to be. There is a superb orchestra (many of the players are Eastern European) and concert tickets are comparatively cheap.


  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,431 Mod ✭✭✭✭artanevilla


    How do you feel about raising your daughter in a country that treats women as 2nd class citizens?


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    Thanks for answering. I suppose my main things surrounding Human rights are:

    1) What's the treatment of Women like over there? Persuming your family has a female do you find the treatment completely different? I don't think Qatar is known to be as bad as other countries

    2) Your mention of family, I'm assuming that's including children. What happens if one is Gay? It's illegal over there IIRC. Has this ever crossed your mind or not something you'd worry about?

    Let me caveat my answer by saying that I'm not a woman and I'm not gay, so my observations in relation to your questions are from the outside.

    There is I suspect no single answer to the question about the treatment of women. I think that Qatari women have one experience, western women another, Indian women another, and so on. Part of that experience will reflect the laws and customs in Qatar, and part will reflect the baggage that each culture has.

    So lets talk about dress codes for example. Qatari women, and many women from neighboring countries (e.g. Egyptians, Syrians etc.) almost all wear an abaya (a floor length black outer garment) and a black scarf covering the hair. Some, but it seems to me to be a minority, wear a veil over the face. There is no expectation that western women will dress this way, but there is an expectation that they will dress "modestly". That's generally taken to mean no hemlines above the knee and no bare shoulders. Indian women dress in Qatar like they would in India - some wear western clothes, some wear traditional Indian clothes.

    Qatari women have access to higher education and many take that opportunity. I think that they are more likely to study in Qatar and less likely to study abroad than their male counterparts. All women in Qatar can drive cars, operate bank accounts etc. but that is not to say that the genders are equal in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of the local culture - they are not. That said, there seems to have been a lot of change in the past few decades and there is no sign of that slowing down. Several of the most prominent and influential members of the Royal family are women and they do seem to be driving the agenda.

    Regarding gay people all I can say is that I know that homosexuality is against the law, but I don't think that law is implemented. I suspect that the cultural reaction to homosexuality is probably a bigger issue than the law.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    How do you feel about raising your daughter in a country that treats women as 2nd class citizens?

    Thank you for the (loaded) question.

    I was raised in Ireland, a country that treated women as second class citizens. My mother, a professional woman, needed my father's permission to open a bank account. The marriage bar was in place until 1973.

    I'm sure I don't need to list out the changes that have taken place Ireland over the past 50 years that have made it a more gender-equal society, but I don't think we're there yet. As far as I know Article 41.2 is still in the Constitution.

    But to answer your question, the legal and cultural issues that affect women's rights in Qatar apply in the main to Qatari women - they did not apply to or otherwise affect my daughter.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,483 ✭✭✭✭dulpit


    You seem to be very apologetic towards the Qatari system, but I suspect that your life is very different to Qatari locals or the labourers, is that accurate? Do you feel like you are part of society, or distinct to it?

    Do you need to be able to speak Arabic to get by, or is English sufficient?

    What is your long term plans, is Qatar a place you could retire in?


  • Registered Users Posts: 351 ✭✭AhhHere


    HI there

    My friend lived in Qatar. Loved it. Had a great time. Did 2 years and moved on. We spoke about the human rights issues oftem reported and he would dismiss them as misreporting of our media.

    Have you seen or heard any bad work environments for immigrants of non-western countries? I feel he only intereacted with other western expats so has a biased view. If yes, what is the view on this from yourself and other expats (from western countries)?

    Thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 55 ✭✭Sacramentum


    Hi. Roughly how much would you need to factor into your budget per day if you're staying in a mid-range hotel and eating out once a day in an inexpensive restaurant (assuming the latter exist). Also how long would you need to see all that's worth seeing in the country? Thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 187 ✭✭Lmkrnr


    Did the two Boobie Girls make the News in Qatar?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 33,799 ✭✭✭✭listermint


    Thank you for the (loaded) question.

    I was raised in Ireland, a country that treated women as second class citizens. My mother, a professional woman, needed my father's permission to open a bank account. The marriage bar was in place until 1973.

    I'm sure I don't need to list out the changes that have taken place Ireland over the past 50 years that have made it a more gender-equal society, but I don't think we're there yet. As far as I know Article 41.2 is still in the Constitution.

    But to answer your question, the legal and cultural issues that affect women's rights in Qatar apply in the main to Qatari women - they did not apply to or otherwise affect my daughter.

    I don't personally think that was a loaded question it was a pertinent question, having personally travelled through the region with my wife and seeing first hand segregation and distaste for even normal affection for your own wife in public. I don't believe throwing back at the poster Ireland from nearly 50 years ago when the first man landed on the moon is a reasonable response to his question.

    You are raising your daughter in a country where she is and will be a second class citizen. Today not when lads were hopping around in black and white footage.

    It's a fair question. And note I work today with 16 different nationalities in Ireland right now and I have been to their homes.

    Would you say money is the sole reason you are there in its entirety.


  • Registered Users Posts: 550 ✭✭✭feargantae


    You mention money quite a few times in your answers so can i ask how much you earn a month? Would it be safe to assume you live quite comfortably?

    You've been away from Éire for a decade but do you often come back home to visit? Current situation excluded of course! How do you stay in touch with Ireland/Irish culture? Would you watch RTÉ/TG4, keep up with Irish news, elections, current affairs etc?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional Midlands Moderators, Regional Midwest Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators, Regional North Mods, Regional West Moderators, Regional South East Moderators, Regional North East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators, Regional South Moderators Posts: 9,071 CMod ✭✭✭✭Fathom


    Hi. Thanks for your answers to questions above. Would it be wise for a young single western woman to visit Qatar by herself? Or apply for employment and work and live there by herself? If she worked for a western university with a campus in Qatar, would she be paid the same as lecturers and professors in their home country, or paid more, or less? What if she worked for a Qatar university? Differences? Pay? Benefits? Clothing requirements? Are there places where she would need a male escort? How would Qatar nationals, men or women, think of an single western women visiting, or working and residing in their country? Do you personally know any western women traveling or residing in Qatar by themselves? Can she wear a western swim suit (one or 2 piece) to swim in Gulf or hotel pool or public pool? Or be allowed to swim at all? Probably a naive question? Thanks again.


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,397 ✭✭✭✭Galwayguy35


    He is living there because he makes good money and seems to have a nice life over there, not sure what some of ye expect him to do about the laws in Qatar.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,812 ✭✭✭thelad95


    Lmkrnr wrote: »
    Did the two Boobie Girls make the News in Qatar?

    Why would they have made the news in Qatar considering they travelled to the United Arab Emirates.........?


  • Registered Users Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭Mars Bar


    thelad95 wrote: »
    Why would they have made the news in Qatar considering they travelled to the United Arab Emirates.........?

    It didn't even make the news here in the UAE.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    dulpit wrote: »
    You seem to be very apologetic towards the Qatari system, but I suspect that your life is very different to Qatari locals or the labourers, is that accurate? Do you feel like you are part of society, or distinct to it?

    Do you need to be able to speak Arabic to get by, or is English sufficient?

    What is your long term plans, is Qatar a place you could retire in?

    Hi and thanks for the question.

    Qatar society is very stratified and, outside of work, there is very little interaction between the various strata. So I do not feel as if I am part of Qatari society, but I am part of a multicultural society living in Qatar.

    At the top of that society are the Qataris. They account for just 10% of the population - approx 300,000 people. The wealth generated by the oil and gas allows them to enjoy a very high standard of living. They tend to work mainly in the public sector, in the oil and gas business, or in their own family businesses.

    Westerners of various different nationalities probably account for another 300,000 and they work mainly in technical and managerial roles.

    By far the biggest single nationality in Qatar is Indians - there are approx 700,000 Indians in Qatar. Qatar, and the Gulf generally, was ruled by the British as an adjunct of the Indian Empire - up until the 1970s the currency in use was the Indian rupee!

    https://priyadsouza.com/population-of-qatar-by-nationality-in-2017/

    My life is very different to both that of the Qataris (who have their own culture based on their Bedouin and Muslin culture) and that of the manual labourers - who also have their culture and traditions, but clearly have less in terms of material wealth.

    You don't need to speak any Arabic to live and work in Qatar, though it is nice to have a few words. English is spoken everywhere and in every situation that a western expat is likely to find himself/herself.

    As for my own long-term plans, well if you are not Qatari you can only live in Qatar if you have a job. So when I retire, which is not far away, we will have to leave. Where will we go? I don't know, but somewhere in the EU.


  • Company Representative Posts: 96 Verified rep I live in Qatar, AMA


    AhhHere wrote: »
    HI there

    My friend lived in Qatar. Loved it. Had a great time. Did 2 years and moved on. We spoke about the human rights issues oftem reported and he would dismiss them as misreporting of our media.

    Have you seen or heard any bad work environments for immigrants of non-western countries? I feel he only intereacted with other western expats so has a biased view. If yes, what is the view on this from yourself and other expats (from western countries)?

    Thanks.

    Hi and thanks for the question.

    I have of course heard of bad working environments and bad treatment of workers in Qatar - these are often (but probably not always) reported in the local media, and of course being a westerner I get my news mainly from western sources.

    I think I'll do a stand-alone post about manual/construction workers in Qatar. Please have a read of that and, if you still have questions, by all means come back to me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28,989 ✭✭✭✭Wanderer78


    At the top of that society are the Qataris. They account for just 10% of the population - approx 300,000 people. The wealth generated by the oil and gas allows them to enjoy a very high standard of living. They tend to work mainly in the public sector, in the oil and gas business, or in their own family businesses.

    Sounds similarish in ways to western life, sounds like an interesting place, best of luck and thank you


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  • Registered Users Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭Mars Bar


    Wanderer78 wrote: »
    Sounds similarish in ways to western life, sounds like an interesting place, best of luck and thank you

    It's very easy to live a normal Western life in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE. Kuwait less so and obviously even less in Saudi.


This discussion has been closed.
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