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

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


    Kamu wrote: »
    Hey, thank you for doing this AMA.

    How would you describe your working day? Working more hours/days compares to ireland? Working less overall?

    How is the work/life balance?

    Would you recommend Qatar to people to move to today? How about after the world cup?

    How do you survive the summer months? Are you not close to heat stroke constantly?

    Hi and thanks for the question.

    My working day is longer than in Ireland (8-5 whereas in Ireland I worker 9-5). I get 32 days annual leave which is more or less the same as I got in Ireland.

    In Qatar Friday is the day of Prayer, and the weekend is Friday and Saturday, with Sunday being a normal work day, which takes a little getting used to.

    It also means that if you want to fly (remembering the days when we could) to Europe for a long weekend you arrive a day early and have to take a days leave on the back end.

    My work life balance is fine, but I'm under no illusion but that, like all westerners, my experience is not typical of all immigrants to Qatar. People working in the service sector, manufacturing and construction will work long hours, and often 6-day weeks.

    Would I recommend Qatar? Yes, it is a good place to live and work for a while. It is very family oriented and a lot of the western immigrants are married with kids. I'd say that there's less to do here for a single person than in the UAE, but the other side of that coin is that it is probably easier to save money here.

    As for the heat, well the truth is that it doesn't affect me much because I don't go out in it. In the summer I go from my airconditioned home, in my airconditioned car, to my airconditioned office. When I get home I'll go to the airconditioned gym for some exercise. Everything is airconditioned. The really oppressive heat lasts for about 4-5 months. Right now it is quite nice (my phone says it is 26 degrees at 8:45am), and for about 8 months of the year the weather is lovely. During July and August everyone who can (e.g. schoolchildren and families) leaves Qatar. That didn't happen last year due to Covid. It was the first time that most western families had spent the summer in Qatar.


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


    Hdjsjsjsj wrote: »
    Was it hard to adjust to the practices required? I was considering working in the middle East for maybe a year just to earn extra cash easily

    I think that probably varies from profession to profession. In my case working practices are more or less identical to those in Ireland. There might be a little more "Inshallah" when it comes to project deadlines:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inshallah


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


    Yoghurt87 wrote: »
    Thanks OP for this very interesting AMA.

    My first question leads on from the previous post - in your experience do people who move over “for a year” to make a bit of money generally end up returning home as planned, or are they likely to stay on once they become attached to the bigger income and the perks of the expat package?

    Has Covid changed your work set-up at all? Is there more scope for working from home - whether that be in Qatar or even remotely from Ireland?

    In your opinion, what is the most common misconception Irish people have about life for westerners in Qatar?

    Hi and thanks for the question.

    I suspect that a lot of people come to Qatar for a year or so to see what its like and end up staying longer. That is probably for a number of reasons - Qatar is not a hardship posting, the money is good, and inertia is a powerful force. When I came here it was with a view to spending at least 3 years, and I'm still here 10 years later.

    Your age is probably a big factor too. I see a lot of younger people here (many of them teachers) who are taking advantage of the good salary and opportunity to travel, but will probably return home when they have saved a deposit for a house. I think that older people like me are more likely to stay if their conditions are good.

    One of the things that takes a lot of getting used to is that you will lose on average 20% of your friends every year because of the turnover of people. That's probably more difficult for children of a school-going age than adults.

    Turning to Covid, firstly the experience in each country is different and its is hard to make direct comparisons. We are currently experiencing our second lockdown, everything except for supermarkets is closed and restaurants are doing take-away only. Internet connectivity and speed are excellent in Qatar and so, for those in employments where this is possible, working from home is a viable option. I am currently doing office/home on a 50/50 basis. Ramadan starts tomorrow and I haven't yet received an email about how that is going to work.

    I don't know what the most common misconceptions might be - perhaps they may relate to the experience of living and working in a Muslim country. All I can say is that while the Qataris take their religion seriously (they typically belong to the Wahhabi branch of Islam) and that is reflected in the laws and customs, this does not in reality have much impact on western immigrants.


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


    This is an interesting point - how does it make you feel that you have contributed to Qatari society by working there (remunerated well of course) but that society won't repay you by either allowing you to buy property or establish any right to permanent residence there?

    Thank you for the question.

    The salary that every immigrant earns in Qatar (from the highest to the lowest) is a multiple of what they would earn in their own country - and everyone understands from the day they arrive that they cannot stay here. I think there is a fair argument to say that the Qataris repay you for your effort in your salary every month.

    There are some pathways to permanent residency. I believe that these are easier if you are fluent in Arabic and/or you have a Qatari sponsor with a lot of "Wasta":
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasta#:~:text=Wasta%20or%20wasata%20(Arabic%3A%20%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%90%D8%B7%D8%A9,or%20%27who%20you%20know%27.

    I know of several families of ethnic Egyptians or Palestinians who have been in Qatar for generations.

    The government has also recently introduced a scheme whereby if you buy a residential property in a few specific locations you can get permanent residency with the purchase. I haven't explored it very much because when we do retire we want to live in Europe.


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


    smurfjed wrote: »
    Did the recent blockade by your neighbours have any impact at all?

    Hi, and thanks for the question.

    Short answer - yes.

    Longer answer - the blockade affected different people in different ways.

    I am a foreigner in Qatar. Even though I spent 50 years in Ireland, and am interested in politics, I often struggle to understand or explain what is happening in Ireland - so when it comes to the politics of this region, where the culture is so different and the language is such a big barrier, there is a limit to what a foreigner can know.

    Having said that - I'll have a stab at answering your question.

    So the first thing that strikes me is that the countries of the Middle East have a different origin and history to Western countries. The concept of Westphalian sovereignty is absent:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westphalian_sovereignty

    Society, culture and politics in the Arabian peninsula remain dominated by tribes - the most powerful being the Al Sauds in Saudi Arabia, followed by the Al Nahyans in Abu Dhabi. The Al Thanis who rule Qatar are a much smaller tribe and they were left more or less to themselves because, until the discovery of oil and gas, this was one of the most desolate places on earth.

    The Al Sauds came to power in what is now called Saudi Arabia because they overwhelmed and subdued all the other tribes of the former territories of Hejaz and Najd. The Al Khalifas of Bahrain are nominally independent, but they owe their throne to the Al Sauds and everyone knows it. I have to suspect that the Al Sauds may never have really fully accepted that Qatar was an independent country and, the accession of a new Emir in Qatar, together with the possibility of grabbing Qatar's wealth, may have tempted the Al Sauds into "testing" the Qataris.

    The growing wealth and influence of Qatar (including via Al Jazeera) over the past two decades might have been viewed in Abu Dhabi as threatening their status as the No 2 power in the region. On top of that the development policy for Doha is very similar to that of Dubai and perhaps that competition was not welcome.

    So when the blockade started there was quite a bit of shock across the whole country. I don't mind admitting that I was quickly reading the evacuation plan that my company has in place. There was a little panic buying, but after a few days it became clear that the Americans would not tolerate an invasion and so a lengthy period of stalemate began.

    If Qatar was not so wealthy the blockade might have worked, but the Iranians opened their airspace, and shipping through the Gulf was not affected. The Qataris quickly launched a huge food security program and life soon returned to some sense of normalcy. Flights to Europe took a half an hour longer because of the need to fly around Saudi, and we couldn't go to Dubai for the weekend, but apart from that the impact on expatriates was limited.

    The impact on Qatari society was however much more profound. It is my understanding that they felt betrayed and wounded. Many Qataris are intermarried with families in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and the blockade tore those families apart. On the surface the ending of the blockade has brought a peace to the region, but beneath the surface I suspect that tensions and emotions may still be high.


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


    smurfjed wrote: »
    Are you including housing allowance in your salary, or is that completely separate ?

    Personally I get a housing allowance and I go to the market and rent a house. Whether I spend more or less than my allowance is up to me. I tend to include it in my salary.

    Many other people (including it seems a lot of teachers and Qatar Airways pilots) live in accommodation provided directly by the employer.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    I doubt many Irish will have a need to travel to the world Cup. :(

    I did look at jobs in the gulf 11-12 years ago, but not too seriously.

    Does your wife share the same views as yourself? Which of you is more eager to return to Europe or is it similar. Is she working outside the home?


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


    I doubt many Irish will have a need to travel to the world Cup. :(

    I did look at jobs in the gulf 11-12 years ago, but not too seriously.

    Does your wife share the same views as yourself? Which of you is more eager to return to Europe or is it similar. Is she working outside the home?

    Hi and thanks for the question.

    Anyone who is married will know that it is not wise to presume to speak for your spouse!

    I think that as far as the experience, from a female perspective, of living in Qatar is concerned I would have to defer to her. I know that in dealing with the Qatari bureaucracy you will come across a fair amount of sexism, and that is never going to be easy to accept for a woman who comes from a western country. Also there are far more men than women in Qatar, and that experience is something that I cannot talk about.

    As is often the case when a person accepts a position in Qatar they drag a spouse and children with them. The person with the job has a status and community with that job, the kids will quickly fall into a school routine, but it can be a lot more difficult for the accompanying spouse. Without a structure or purpose its very easy to become one of the ladies who lunch, or the lads who have their first beer at 3pm.

    In our case my wife quickly became involved in cross-community activities and took on a part-time job also. Ten years on she has a far wider circle of friends and acquaintances, from every background, than I do.

    We are both looking forward to life after Qatar but I suspect that it will be easier for me to leave than for her.


  • Registered Users Posts: 504 ✭✭✭Kamu


    Hi and thanks for the question.

    Thank you for your response (and subsequent responses). It was a good insight in to the working culture over there.

    I wouldn't entertain moving over there until I turned 30 and finish my H.Dip. which is a year or so away. So hopefully around that time I will be able to check any job postings.

    How did you get your job over there, did you search? or were you approached?
    Are there promotional opportunities or is the job role you go over there with the job you have for your duration there?

    What is internet use like? are there banned websites?

    And in regards to driving, did you have to take a driving test while over there?

    I find it all fascinating truth be told.


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


    Kamu wrote: »
    Thank you for your response (and subsequent responses). It was a good insight in to the working culture over there.

    I wouldn't entertain moving over there until I turned 30 and finish my H.Dip. which is a year or so away. So hopefully around that time I will be able to check any job postings.

    How did you get your job over there, did you search? or were you approached?
    Are there promotional opportunities or is the job role you go over there with the job you have for your duration there?

    What is internet use like? are there banned websites?

    And in regards to driving, did you have to take a driving test while over there?

    I find it all fascinating truth be told.

    I got my job through LinkedIn. An agency got in contact with me and asked if I was interested, and I was interested enough to say yes. I had a long interview over Skype, and after that my wife and I were invited to come over for a couple of days - more interviews for me, and she was given a tour of the city.

    The upper echelons of most organisations will be made up of Qataris. I think that my job, as an experienced middle-manager was two-fold. Firstly to do the actual job, but secondly (and perhaps more importantly) to mentor and develop younger Qatari professionals. That second role has been my most meaningful connection with Qatari society and I have really enjoyed it and found it rewarding.

    There are some job-promotion opportunities (depending on the organisation) but I wouldn't count on it. However, from a career development perspective, you can often be involved at a senior level in large and complex projects at a younger age than if you were at home. Five years as a tunneling engineer in Qatar for example is a very strong CV entry.

    The internet is very good in Qatar, speeds are comparable with any developed country. There are some banned sites - mainly pornography I think. I haven't heard of other types of sites being banned, but I can't rule it out because I don't speak Arabic.

    When I came to Qatar they allowed you to convert a European driving license into a Qatari one without doing a test, but I think the rules have changed and you have to do a test now.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,501 ✭✭✭bb1234567


    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?

    Does Qatar have many historic old buildings? Just looked up and the country's population was only 25,000 in 1950. Wouldn't imagine they'd have a wealth of built heritage.


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


    bb1234567 wrote: »
    Does Qatar have many historic old buildings? Just looked up and the country's population was only 25,000 in 1950. Wouldn't imagine they'd have a wealth of built heritage.

    Hi and thanks for the question.

    There are very few old buildings in Qatar and one of the reasons is that, being a desert, there are no trees and no timber. As a result timber had to be imported by dhow and was expensive.

    One of the consequences of that is that whenever a new building was begun they often cannibalised the timbers (rafters, doors and windows) from older buildings, meaning that the desert reclaimed those older buildings quite quickly.

    Within living memory (albeit that generation is dying out) Qataris were also desperately poor. Like many Gulf communities they had relied on the pearl beds to generate additional income. The Japanese perfected cultured pearls in the early part of the 20th century and this destroyed pearl fishing in the Gulf. There was real poverty in Qatar in the decades between then and the 1950s when oil revenues began to flow. The fact is that very poor people do not leave grand architecture behind.

    There are a couple of worthwhile exceptions. The Zubara fort on the north of the peninsula is worth a visit:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Zubara_Fort

    So too is Sheikh Jassim's palace:
    https://www.marhaba.qa/qatar-museums-restores-the-old-palace-of-sheikh-abdullah-bin-jassim-al-thani/

    There is a private museum, Sheikh Faisal's museum which, though its a bit disorganised, has a huge amount of artifacts from the 19th and 20th century:
    https://www.alsamriyaestate.com/museum


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,531 ✭✭✭pottokblue


    I've recently taken up birdwatching during our lockdown and am lucky to be able to see many different birds in my 5km zone. Do you have birds that visit your balcony/garden and what birds do you see regular in Qatar???

    Now its full bird song season I remember living in China they had recorded bird sounds transmitted in public places. Some old chinese used to keep birds as pets and bring them to the park at social gatherings.

    Is there a bird commmunity in Qatar?? I'm imagine maybe nightingales, falcons kestrels maybe among bedouins????


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


    pottokblue wrote: »
    I've recently taken up birdwatching during our lockdown and am lucky to be able to see many different birds in my 5km zone. Do you have birds that visit your balcony/garden and what birds do you see regular in Qatar???

    Now its full bird song season I remember living in China they had recorded bird sounds transmitted in public places. Some old chinese used to keep birds as pets and bring them to the park at social gatherings.

    Is there a bird commmunity in Qatar?? I'm imagine maybe nightingales, falcons kestrels maybe among bedouins????

    I an very fortunate to have a garden with trees and some lawn and we have a lot of birds that come and visit. I'm afraid that I couldn't tell you what they are, there are definitely a few pigeons and there's another very plentiful bird that is about the size of a pigeon and that (following a Google search) I think is a collared dove. There are loads of smaller birds and the garden is full of birdsong every morning.

    Unfortunately there are also a lot of feral cats in Qatar.

    The bird that most Qataris would associate with is the hawk. Hawking is an ancient sport in these parts (given a modern twist lately by using a drone dragging a piece of chicken on a string as a quarry). On Qatar Airways you can bring a hawk on board so long as the hawk is hooded and you buy an extra seat for it!


  • Registered Users Posts: 530 ✭✭✭tmh106


    I'm early 50s, working in IT as a project manager. Would you say there are job opportunities in my area for someone of my age? Would you know what is the best way to check out job opportunities in Qatar in the IT sector?


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



    As for the heat, well the truth is that it doesn't affect me much because I don't go out in it. In the summer I go from my airconditioned home, in my airconditioned car, to my airconditioned office. When I get home I'll go to the airconditioned gym for some exercise. Everything is airconditioned. The really oppressive heat lasts for about 4-5 months. Right now it is quite nice (my phone says it is 26 degrees at 8:45am), and for about 8 months of the year the weather is lovely. During July and August everyone who can (e.g. schoolchildren and families) leaves Qatar. That didn't happen last year due to Covid. It was the first time that most western families had spent the summer in Qatar.

    I think this is what would kill it for me not being able to go for a hike or a walk in nature for hours and not having green spaces where you can sit for long amounts of time.


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


    tmh106 wrote: »
    I'm early 50s, working in IT as a project manager. Would you say there are job opportunities in my area for someone of my age? Would you know what is the best way to check out job opportunities in Qatar in the IT sector?

    If your skills and expertise are in demand then there'll be a demand for you here too. There are about 2.9m people in Qatar, so there are plenty of large companies that will have large IT departments. If your area of expertise is cybersecurity (or you can bend your CV in that direction) all the better.

    All over the world cybersecurity is becoming a big issue but during the blockade Qatar was subjected to a constant level of sophisticated attacks. Every financial institution, utility, government department and private company will be bolstering its defences against cyber attack.

    One caveat that I would enter is that because of the long history between Qatar and India, and the huge number of IT professionals that India produces, a lot of IT departments are almost entirely staffed by Indians (and Pakistanis). Given that wages in those countries are generally lower than in the West you may find the the IT salaries on offer in Qatar might not be as high as they are for other professions. That is why I would focus on areas where Western professionals might have a skills advantage.

    As for where to start - I really don't know. I imaging there are agencies that specialise in placing IT staff in the Middle East but as I'm not in that business I don't know them - sorry.


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


    cloudatlas wrote: »
    I think this is what would kill it for me not being able to go for a hike or a walk in nature for hours and not having green spaces where you can sit for long amounts of time.

    That will always be a problem.

    I may have said earlier that the weather in Ireland is atrocious (and it is!), and I don't think I'll retire there, but whenever someone in my family sends me a photo of an outdoor scene the greenery really takes your breath away.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,395 ✭✭✭Gloomtastic!


    Thanks for doing this AMA.

    Three months of pissing rain in Ireland or three months of desert storms in Qatar?


  • Registered Users Posts: 19,638 ✭✭✭✭Muahahaha


    But the biggest anti-social behaviour that you'll find Qatari boys up to is driving very fast in big SUVs. I prefer to keep well out of their way.

    Just on that I was in Doha back in 2006, I stopped off there for a two days on the way home from backpacking in Iran. At the time there wasnt much to do except go to the one big shopping mall they had at the time. It had air conditioning I was glad of as it was 40 odd degrees there in July. I remember inside the shopping mall there was a display of two crashed supercars, one of them a red Ferrari, the other a yellow Lambourghini and then a crashed sports motorbike too. The information posters beside the crashed cars were in Arabic but it was clear they were trying to warn young Qatari males of the dangers of speeding in supercars. It was a bit surreal seeing an absolutely mangled Ferrari and Lambourghi right there on display in the middle of a shopping centre across from a Louis Vitton shop .

    Anyway a few questions, what kind of comment locally is there about such a tiny nation building 8 full size football stadiums holding some 60,000 people each? Its seems madness in such a small country. Is there plans for what they will do with them after the World Cup, it sounds like they will be eight white elephants. And what are the locations of them like, Doha isnt that big of a city so is it the case you literally have four or five massive big football stadiums all within less than 10 kilometres of each other?

    Also do you have any comment with the situation between Qatar and Saudi at the moment, have relations improved or are they still being given the cold shoulder by the other regional powers? I know Qatar invested heavily in global Premier League rights through the pay tv channel BeIn Sports and then MBS in Saudi allowed the set up of a competing illegal pirate channel streaming the Premier League. Just to really take the piss out of Qatar it was called BeOut Sports and they literally stole the content from BeIn and distributed it to millions of Saudis and other nations across the Middle East. Is this kind of tit for tat between the two nations still going on?

    Also the Qatari channel Al Jazeera is generally seen as a good source for Middle East politics for those of us in the west. But how is it seen in the region when it comes to reporting on regional Middle Easter affairs, is it an arm and tool of the Qatari government used to get propaganda out about other Arab nations or would you say it is genuinely editorially independent and isnt grinding any axes?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 176 ✭✭Hontou


    Thank you for your insight to middle eastern culture and history. I lived in both Bahrain and Dubai briefly in the 90's so am finding this very interesting.

    I have a few questions:

    Have a lot of airline pilots, cabin crew and airport staff lost their jobs in light of Covid and do they have to now leave?

    If you lose your job in any sector, how long can you live there before you leave the country? Can you keep your children in school until the end of the academic year or is it a case of .....OUT? If you have paid for a year's lease on a house, do you have to leave sooner if you lose your job?


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


    Muahahaha wrote: »
    Just on that I was in Doha back in 2006, I stopped off there for a two days on the way home from backpacking in Iran. At the time there wasnt much to do except go to the one big shopping mall they had at the time. It had air conditioning I was glad of as it was 40 odd degrees there in July. I remember inside the shopping mall there was a display of two crashed supercars, one of them a red Ferrari, the other a yellow Lambourghini and then a crashed sports motorbike too. The information posters beside the crashed cars were in Arabic but it was clear they were trying to warn young Qatari males of the dangers of speeding in supercars. It was a bit surreal seeing an absolutely mangled Ferrari and Lambourghi right there on display in the middle of a shopping centre across from a Louis Vitton shop .

    Anyway a few questions, what kind of comment locally is there about such a tiny nation building 8 full size football stadiums holding some 60,000 people each? Its seems madness in such a small country. Is there plans for what they will do with them after the World Cup, it sounds like they will be eight white elephants. And what are the locations of them like, Doha isnt that big of a city so is it the case you literally have four or five massive big football stadiums all within less than 10 kilometres of each other?

    Also do you have any comment with the situation between Qatar and Saudi at the moment, have relations improved or are they still being given the cold shoulder by the other regional powers? I know Qatar invested heavily in global Premier League rights through the pay tv channel BeIn Sports and then MBS in Saudi allowed the set up of a competing illegal pirate channel streaming the Premier League. Just to really take the piss out of Qatar it was called BeOut Sports and they literally stole the content from BeIn and distributed it to millions of Saudis and other nations across the Middle East. Is this kind of tit for tat between the two nations still going on?

    Also the Qatari channel Al Jazeera is generally seen as a good source for Middle East politics for those of us in the west. But how is it seen in the region when it comes to reporting on regional Middle Easter affairs, is it an arm and tool of the Qatari government used to get propaganda out about other Arab nations or would you say it is genuinely editorially independent and isnt grinding any axes?

    Hi and thank you for these three (fairly meaty) questions. I’ll do my best!

    Regarding the stadiums I'm no expert, but I think they have thought it through. I don't think they'll be surplus to requirements when the World Cup is over. Remember Qatar is mad about football, Doha has a population approaching 3m, and the only field sport they play is football (there is a fairly well supported professional domestic league).

    There will be 8 stadiums for the World Cup. One is the new 80,000 seat national stadium where the final will be played. I guess that going forward that stadium will be where international games and the final of the domestic cup will be played. Most of the other stadiums are 40,000 seat stadiums. One is constructed out of shipping containers (I can see it from my office window) and will be dismantled after the tournament. I believe that a second, the old national stadium, is scheduled for demolition. The upper tiers of some of the other stadia will be dismantled after the tournament and will be donated to countries with less developed sports infrastructure. So you could be left with 5 x 20,000 seat stadiums, plus the national stadium. The 20,000 seat stadiums will I guess become the homes for some of the larger domestic sides.

    With regard to the situation between Qatar and Saudi I can only offer an outsiders impression. From the few conversations that I have had with Qataris I think there will be a faster reconciliation between Qatar and Saudi than between Qatar and Abu Dhabi. While the Saudis, Bahrainis and Egyptians all participated in the blockade, the view among Qataris seems to be that it was instigated by Abu Dhabi. They will not forgive that quickly. Regarding the sports rights the Qataris were close to an important win in the international courts at the time that the blockade ended. As far as I know BeOut has now been wound up, and that court case has been quietly dropped.

    So then, turning to Al Jazeera, the English language version is one of my main TV news sources along with the BBC, CNN and Euronews. That version is the same version as you'll find in hotel rooms all over the world. The Arabic version of Al Jazeera carries much more local news and the allegation of critics is that the broadly neutral stance of the English version is not replicated in the Arabic version, which is a tool of Qatari foreign policy. I really don't know if that is true because I don't speak Arabic, but it is plausible. Al Jazzeera is certainly not independent in the sense that the BBC might be considered to be. Qatar is a monarchy and Al Jazeera was founded and is controlled by the Royal family. As against that most of the countries that criticise Al Jazeera for bias have completely cowed their domestic media and tend not to brook adverse comment from any quarter. I'm sorry if this answer is an unsatisfactory, but it's the best I can offer.

    (BTW the shopping mall that you visited was probably Villagio? It's still there - I live about a 5-minute drive away from it).


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


    Hontou wrote: »
    Thank you for your insight to middle eastern culture and history. I lived in both Bahrain and Dubai briefly in the 90's so am finding this very interesting.

    I have a few questions:

    Have a lot of airline pilots, cabin crew and airport staff lost their jobs in light of Covid and do they have to now leave?

    If you lose your job in any sector, how long can you live there before you leave the country? Can you keep your children in school until the end of the academic year or is it a case of .....OUT? If you have paid for a year's lease on a house, do you have to leave sooner if you lose your job?

    Hi and thank you for these questions.

    Regarding Qatar Airways staff I think that lay-offs were much higher among cabin and ground staff than they were for (some) pilots. Passenger traffic is obviously way down. I suspect that many of the staff that were laid off will have left - I don't know if their residency permit was cancelled - but Doha would be an expensive place to live without a salary. As for the pilots, many of them are still here. I think the Qatar Airways (and other airlines) will be using the Covid pandemic to accelerate changes to their fleet - for example, we may never see an Airbus A380 in the skies again. If however you fly the "right" planes (which seems to be various other Airbus models and the Boeing 777) then your future seems more secure. I believe that a lot of passenger planes have been repurposed for cargo and this, along with the reduced schedule, means that most of these pilots have been able to get the required number of flying hours.

    I guess that when (fingers crossed) international travel returns to something like normal Qatar Airways will seek to re-recruit the cabin and ground staff that were let go.

    The answer to your second question is not straightforward I'm afraid and it will very much depend on the attitude of the employer and the exit package. Lets assume that the relationship is good and that the employment is being terminated for reasons other than disciplinary. In my experience some (but not all) employers will try to find an accommodation that will allow children to complete the current school year. Very often, in the case of westerners, fees for the whole year will have been paid upfront.

    That said, the general rule is that when your employment ends your right to live in the country expires quickly and you have to get your finances in order quickly - the most important things to do are to cancel your credit card 45 days before departure and pay off any loans you might have, otherwise you might not be allowed to leave. Regarding leases, usually when you rent a house/apartment you give the landlord 12 post-dated cheques and one cheque is presented on the 1st of every month. It is generally accepted however that if you can show evidence to the landlord that you have lost your job and are leaving then the lease can be terminated early.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,793 ✭✭✭ionadnapokot


    Hello. Excellent Qs and especially A’s
    Do you know of the quality of education and support for children with special needs like Down syndrome? And do you know any families with children who have some special needs?

    I’m an engineer and the salary and cv opportunities are very tempting.
    I really doubt I could take my young family away from home for much longer than a year.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,095 ✭✭✭✭smurfjed


    support for children with special needs like Down syndrome?
    I would be more concerned about the cost.


  • Registered Users Posts: 31,831 ✭✭✭✭Mars Bar


    Hello. Excellent Qs and especially A’s
    Do you know of the quality of education and support for children with special needs like Down syndrome? And do you know any families with children who have some special needs?

    I’m an engineer and the salary and cv opportunities are very tempting.
    I really doubt I could take my young family away from home for much longer than a year.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    If the Middle East is on your radar then there's a legacy that has been left in UAE following the special olympics. So with a bit of research you will find resources for people with Down Syndrome.


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


    Hello. Excellent Qs and especially A’s
    Do you know of the quality of education and support for children with special needs like Down syndrome? And do you know any families with children who have some special needs?

    I’m an engineer and the salary and cv opportunities are very tempting.
    I really doubt I could take my young family away from home for much longer than a year.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    I don't know very much that might be of help to you. I suspect that any clinical support that you might need will be available and will be world class - the healthcare system is superb. The bigger challenge is likely to be education. I would imagine that whatever specialised facilities that may exist at the Government level would be geared towards locals, and conducted exclusively through Arabic. The international schools in Qatar are often run on a very commercial basis and are unlikely to accommodate students that require additional support. You might try posting a question on the Qatar Irish Society Facebook page. A lot of the Irish here are involved in the education and healthcare sectors and you might get a more informed answer from someone there.

    One thing to bear in mind is that it might be more feasible to afford home-help in Qatar, if that could be a factor for you.

    Turning to your second question, with an infrastructure spend of half a billion dollars a week, Qatar is always going to be looking for suitably qualified engineers. I'm assuming that you live in Ireland - in the days before Covid there were quite a few Irish (usually men) who worked 4 weeks on and 1 week at home. But if you were able to contemplate that I'd nearly suggest Saudi as the salaries might be higher.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    My daughter went to a fantastic international school, has just aced the International Baccalaureate, and is already accepted into a prestigious European university.

    Growing up in a multicultural environment in Qatar has broadened her perspectives and has given her far more choices in life than if we had stayed in Ireland.

    I certainly came here for the money, but the real long-term benefit has been the experience and opportunities that all of our children have had.

    UAE resident here. I would like to ask you about your experience of raising Irish kids in Qatar. My kids were born in the UAE and are both under 5.
    One has recently been diagnosed with low-level special needs (which he might grow out of). It's already obvious that we are much better off in the UAE than in Ireland in terms of access to inclusion support in school (but across many other dimensions, too).

    My question is geared towards the long term implications of raising older western kids and teens in the middle east. Rightly or wrongly, I am operating with the view that I must repatriate to Ireland before my eldest reaches 10 years of age.

    This view was formed by anecdotes gleaned from others that older kids found it very difficult to leave the UAE / Qatar to return to the relative dullness of Ireland. Resentment often ensued, damaging the parent-child relationship.
    Others have said that children will gain a thoroughly unrealistic sense of life by feeding from the silver spoon that Qatar and the UAE provide; that they won't ever get to appreciate the value of money, or gain the important life experience of summer and weekend work; and that most importantly, they will remain as "third culture kids" and never feel that they belong anywhere.

    What do you think of all this? Lately I have been questioning the wisdom of my views, particularly in light of Ireland's response to Covid, the poor health service, poor schools, crime, and the persistent attraction of emigration to Irish youth (including me in my day).


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


    smurfjed wrote: »
    I would be more concerned about the cost.

    So let me give a rough outline of education costs generally.

    There are public schools in Qatar, but they are taught through Arabic, and academic standards are not high by international standards.

    Most western kids, but also kids from well-paid Arabian and Asian families, and some of the locals (especially perhaps those who place a high value on education) will send their children to an international school.

    There are a couple of dozen of these schools, but a lot of them are run as commercial businesses. Based on our experience I would suggest that schools that follow the International Baccalaureate program will have high academic standards. There are a number of schools that operate under the patronage of an Embassy, e.g. the American School of Doha, Doha College (British), the Swiss International School, the German School, the Lycee Bonaparte (French) etc. These schools will often have a little more latitude in relation to setting holiday dates, and perhaps a little less Qatari history on the curriculum, than non-Embassy schools.

    As for costs, annual school fees range from QAR60,000 to QAR85,000 per annum. That's 14,000 - 20,000 Euros. So making sure, before you arrive, that school fees are covered (or substantially covered) by your employer is very important.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,157 ✭✭✭Markitron


    Thanks for all the answers, been very interesting for me. I'm considering moving to the gulf as I'm a professional with good experience and I have nothing keeping me in Ireland. Much like yourself I'm considering 2 or 3 years away. Had only been looking at UAE so far and never really considered Qatar.


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