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

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,497 ✭✭✭Yester


    Thanks for a very interesting AMA.

    Have you been to the camel races? Is it true that they have robot jockeys?


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


    Yester wrote: »
    Thanks for a very interesting AMA.

    Have you been to the camel races? Is it true that they have robot jockeys?

    Thanks for the question.

    Yes and yes!

    Like in horse-racing the weight that the animal carries will have an effect on the outcome. Unfortunately, unlike horse-racing, there is no handicapping i.e. adding weights in light of previous performance in order to equalise the chances of competitors:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handicap_(horse_racing)

    As a result, in camel racing, there is an advantage in having a lighter jockey. Over time jockeys became smaller and younger until the typical jockey was a child from Asia. Not surprisingly there was considerable bad press about this and, as far as I know, there are no child jockeys in Qatar anymore.

    The solution was to develop robot jockeys, effectively a box strapped to the back of the camel with a single arm, which holds a whip. The robots are controlled by remote control by the owner/trainer.

    A race-track will have two separates and parallel courses, one for the camels, and one alongside where the owners/trainers in their 4x4s try to keep up with the camels, avoid one another, and control the robots. I find that side of the track to be more entertaining:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6Bm7EFG_5E


  • Registered Users Posts: 18,347 ✭✭✭✭gormdubhgorm


    You mentioned in a previous post that your daughter has done well academically, and is going off to a European University.

    Was Arabic an option at the international school she attended in Qatar or do/did they only have European languages, Hindi, Chinese etc?

    You also mentioned that you do not speak Arabic. Did you regret not having any/much? Or did you ever have any inclination to learn it?

    Guff about stuff, and stuff about guff.



  • Registered Users Posts: 9,717 ✭✭✭YFlyer


    Do people actually fast during Ramadan?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,068 ✭✭✭✭smurfjed


    In the 10 years that you have spent there, have you noticed that your weather patterns have changed and that you are getting a lot more rain?

    You mentioned that your bottled water was from natural sources, is there any locally sourced bottle water? I had read that the camel herders actually walked their camels into KSA to get water.

    A UK company is in the process of trialing a solar powered water desalination system in KSA/NEOM. If successful it will be a world changer as it will remove the required to use 2 USG of oil to produce 1 USG desalinated water.


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


    You mentioned in a previous post that your daughter has done well academically, and is going off to a European University.

    Was Arabic an option at the international school she attended in Qatar or do/did they only have European languages, Hindi, Chinese etc?

    You also mentioned that you do not speak Arabic. Did you regret not having any/much? Or did you ever have any inclination to learn it?

    Arabic was an option at the international school, and many of her classmates, being from families with their roots in the region, would have taken it. Like all languages (including English) in schools that offer the International Baccalaureate you can take the subject as a first (i.e. native) or second language. At her school the other languages available (apart from Arabic and English) were French and Spanish.

    I don't think that many westerners take Arabic as a second language. It is perceived as being difficult, not only because there are very few shared words with European languages, but also because of the different script.

    As for myself my Arabic is limited to a few words. I'm not sure if I regret it or not. I suppose that my understanding of culture and society would be a lot deeper if I did. The problem is that it is very hard to learn a language unless you have opportunities to speak it, and I live in an English-speaking world. My work environment is English-speaking, if I go to a shop, or for a haircut, or to a restaurant the language spoken will ne English. Because the communities socialise separately (especially the Qataris) there are very few opportunities for a westerner to speak Arabic.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 16,587 CMod ✭✭✭✭faceman


    What's your view and that of the Irish community in Qatar, of the recently introduced mandatory hotel quarantine thats now imposed on you should you have the need to come back to Ireland?

    Do you feel its justified or do you feel that you've been outcast by Ireland?

    Do you think it has damaged brand Ireland inc internationally?


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


    YFlyer wrote: »
    Do people actually fast during Ramadan?

    Hi and thank you for this question.

    My observation is that yes, Muslims do fast during Ramadan.

    Do they all fast? I can't of course say - but the vast majority do. I work in an English-speaking professional environment but it seems to me that my many Muslim colleagues (mainly from Qatar, other Arab states and Pakistan) take Ramadan seriously and fast.

    I don't think that they are all equally pious. I notice that some use the prayer room in the office building every day, whereas some never seem to go there. Perhaps this is similar, in the Ireland of old, to daily Mass-goers on the one hand and, on the other, those who knew which priest said a fast Mass on a Sunday.

    When the fast is over there is often an often elaborate feast called Iftar. There may also be a meal called Suhoor, where people get up before sunrise to eat and drink.


  • Registered Users Posts: 797 ✭✭✭Sir_Name


    Hi again.

    Yes, I believe that dogs are seen as unclean by Muslims.

    I think that most of the Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are owned by westerners - and I think its wrong, they're not built for the heat and they're too big to be kept indoors.

    I would urge people to either get a toy breed or a local breed called saluki:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saluki

    Same in the UAE - we also oddly see a lot of huskies here and again they are not built for this weather at all.

    What about cats in Qatar? I've noticed here that cats, revered would probably be pushing it, but they are definitely more common, and tolerated. ie where we live there are community welfare for cats, whereby they treat them if strays/injured and spay them. Adopting rescue cats is a big thing here.


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


    smurfjed wrote: »
    In the 10 years that you have spent there, have you noticed that your weather patterns have changed and that you are getting a lot more rain?

    You mentioned that your bottled water was from natural sources, is there any locally sourced bottle water? I had read that the camel herders actually walked their camels into KSA to get water.

    A UK company is in the process of trialing a solar powered water desalination system in KSA/NEOM. If successful it will be a world changer as it will remove the required to use 2 USG of oil to produce 1 USG desalinated water.

    Hi and thanks for the questions.

    Regarding the weather it is my (unscientific) impression that in some recent years (but not this one) we have had more rainfall than in my first years here. In some recent years we have had short bouts of torrential rain - comparable to Monsoon rains, which caused flash floods and damage to vehicles and property.

    Regarding locally sourced bottled water, most of the water in the supermarket is locally sourced. You will find Volvic and Perrier etc. but the everyday water bottles are produced locally. Reading the labels some (usually a little nore expensive) describe themselves as natural water whereas others (which I assume come from desalination plants) do not. I'm not an expert on this and I could be wrong.

    I am aware that the current desalination technology requires a lot of energy input, so if that can be done using solar power that would be fantastic.

    I'm also peripherally aware of the NEOM project that you mention. I don't know if it will go ahead, but the scope of the ambition has to be admired.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 797 ✭✭✭Sir_Name


    Hi and thanks for the question.

    Before the blockade and Covid Dubai was the usual weekend destination for everyone in Qatar - which was sort of boring - a similar culture, just bigger malls and better nightlife.

    I have been to Shiraz in Iran for a long weekend and loved it - I will definitely go back to see Isfahan. Istanbul is also doable for a weekend and well worth it. Mumbai is just 3 hours away and I did that too and loved it. The two other places that I would like to go to for a weekend are Tbilisi and Yerevan.

    Assume at this stage you have been to Jordan, but in case you havent I would definitely recommend it!


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


    faceman wrote: »
    What's your view and that of the Irish community in Qatar, of the recently introduced mandatory hotel quarantine thats now imposed on you should you have the need to come back to Ireland?

    Do you feel its justified or do you feel that you've been outcast by Ireland?

    Do you think it has damaged brand Ireland inc internationally?

    Hi and thank you for these questions.

    I can't say that I've any broader insights into the views of the Irish community but, speaking for myself, I'm astonished that it took Ireland so long to implement a hotel quarantine regime. It has been in place in Qatar for the best part of a year and (until some sort of vaccination passport is devised and agreed) seems to me to be a sensible policy. I think that everyone here dreads the thought that there might be bad news from home, and that they might be unable to travel - but this has been the reality for a while now.

    So I don't think that I have been outcast - Ireland needs to protect itself. And every sensible country is taking similar measures - it doesn't affect Ireland's brand at all.


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


    Sir_Name wrote: »
    Same in the UAE - we also oddly see a lot of huskies here and again they are not built for this weather at all.

    What about cats in Qatar? I've noticed here that cats, revered would probably be pushing it, but they are definitely more common, and tolerated. ie where we live there are community welfare for cats, whereby they treat them if strays/injured and spay them. Adopting rescue cats is a big thing here.

    Hi and thank you for the question.

    There are a huge number of cats in Qatar - I'm not sure, but I think they may not be viewed as unclean in the same way that dogs are.

    There are also a lot of feral cats, and there are several welfare organisations (community based rather than official) that try to find homes for strays etc.


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


    Sir_Name wrote: »
    Assume at this stage you have been to Jordan, but in case you havent I would definitely recommend it!

    I have not, but I would like to.

    I'm also told that you can get a taxi from Amman to the border with Israel and the taxi driver will arrange for a taxi on the other side to take you to Jerusalem.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,068 ✭✭✭✭smurfjed


    I'm also peripherally aware of the NEOM project that you mention. I don't know if it will go ahead, but the scope of the ambition has to be admired.
    I have no doubt that it will go ahead, but i do doubt its success. They built and opened an international airports there in 49 days :) Admittedly, the terminal is a marque tent :)

    In Islam, if one is licked by a dog, they must wash 7 times before offering prayers. The rock drawings in Saudi show the CANAAN dog was part of the tribes dating back 6000 years.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,515 ✭✭✭Tombo2001


    This has been a very interesting AMA, and thanks.

    I think the fact that you are a long term resident and that you work for the local public service is more unusual, lots of people go to the region for a two year stint.

    With apologies, as its a long thread so this may have been asked:

    - When you get up on a Friday/ Saturday morning, whats your normal leisure day. I dont mean 'I have breakfast', or routine stuff like 'I buy groceries' but what does leisure time consist of?

    - What are the culinary staples in your house that you would never have eaten when living in Ireland?


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


    Tombo2001 wrote: »
    This has been a very interesting AMA, and thanks.

    I think the fact that you are a long term resident and that you work for the local public service is more unusual, lots of people go to the region for a two year stint.

    With apologies, as its a long thread so this may have been asked:

    - When you get up on a Friday/ Saturday morning, whats your normal leisure day. I dont mean 'I have breakfast', or routine stuff like 'I buy groceries' but what does leisure time consist of?

    - What are the culinary staples in your house that you would never have eaten when living in Ireland?

    Hi and thank you for the question.

    Like a lot of families, weekends are a time for slightly more complicated meals than the pasta and rice dishes that are handy during the week - so we spend more time cooking at the weekends, especially if we're entertaining friends, and a lot of our socialising is done at home or visiting friends.

    On Friday morning I'll generally hit the supermarket and do the "big shop". Friday afternoons are a handy time for catching up on personal emails and business or personal calls to Ireland. A gin & tonic in the late afternoon puts a stop to any serious productivity:)

    I can't tell you exactly what we do on a Saturday other than they fly by as they always do in family households. There's always some errand to be done, jobs around the house, someone to be driven somewhere - the usual stuff.

    New culinary staples:
    Hamour fish;
    Hummus and taboule are always in the fridge;
    Red onions (brown ones are more expensive and often not as good);
    Dates (especially Medjool dates from Jordan);
    Maamoul (date filled biscuits);
    Flat breads - especially small ones that make little pitta pockets for whatever filling you like;

    I'm sure there's more, but these are the ones that spring to mind now.

    Because of the proximity, and the large number of Indians living in Qatar, we definitely eat (and cook) more Indian food than when we lived in Ireland.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,212 ✭✭✭✭Tom Dunne


    There are a huge number of cats in Qatar - I'm not sure, but I think they may not be viewed as unclean in the same way that dogs are.

    Yes, that's pretty much it.

    During my time in the Middle East, I decided for reasons that elude me now, to take on the moderation of the Islam forum here on Boards.ie. One gentleman on the forum, a follower of the faith, persisted in telling us how dogs are so unclean that they eat their own excrement, and nobody was telling him otherwise - he had YouTube videos to prove it.

    So internet nutjobs aside, there is very much a perception that dogs can be used for utilitarian tasks such as guarding property, but not as pets. Any dogs that I encountered in my time were usually feral and sadly in most cases, abandoned by their Western owners when the owners left the country.


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


    Tom Dunne wrote: »
    Yes, that's pretty much it.

    During my time in the Middle East, I decided for reasons that elude me now, to take on the moderation of the Islam forum here on Boards.ie. One gentleman on the forum, a follower of the faith, persisted in telling us how dogs are so unclean that they eat their own excrement, and nobody was telling him otherwise - he had YouTube videos to prove it.

    So internet nutjobs aside, there is very much a perception that dogs can be used for utilitarian tasks such as guarding property, but not as pets. Any dogs that I encountered in my time were usually feral and sadly in most cases, abandoned by their Western owners when the owners left the country.

    I would say that if you are going to buy a dog make sure that it is small and that you can bring it home with you. Only some breeds are allowed to fly, and for me that is a consideration if you buy a dog in the Middle East.


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


    I know you have touched on this, so sorry if I am asking you to repeat yourself, but what is the access to western media like?

    Can you get the latest movies in the cinema or on blu-ray? If so are they in English? Are sports channels easily accessible? Is Amazon available to buy things from?

    Thanks in advance.


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


    Markitron wrote: »
    I know you have touched on this, so sorry if I am asking you to repeat yourself, but what is the access to western media like?

    Can you get the latest movies in the cinema or on blu-ray? If so are they in English? Are sports channels easily accessible? Is Amazon available to buy things from?

    Thanks in advance.

    Hi and thank you for these questions.

    The internet does not seem to be censored in Qatar (apart from pornography) so access to western media online is free. My TV package includes BBC News, CNN, France24, Sky News - all the usual stuff. There are lots of sports channels, the most prominent one being the locally-owned BEIN. I can watch the rugby live from my sofa.

    I have a Netflix account (though the range on offer is not the same as in the US or Ireland) and Amazon Prime is also available.

    I haven't been to the cinema very often because a lot of western movies are censored and because the locals seem to favour horror/slasher movies.

    I think a lot of people will have either TV Boxes or VPNs that allow them to watch TV from their home countries.

    As for Amazon, amazon.co.uk will deliver to Qatar but amazon.com will not. There is however a workaround for this, and for all shopping online. There is a company in the Middle East called Aramex, the origin of which I believe is the internal postal system of the old Arab American Oil Company in Saudi. With an Aramex account I get a postal address in about 40 countries. I can shop online in the US and have it delivered to an Aramex address in the US. They'll then ship it to Qatar and I pay the Aramex charges - it's a bit cumbersome, but it works quite well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,497 ✭✭✭Yester


    Do you ever get people who don't have the necessary permissions to buy alcohol asking you to get some for them?


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


    Yester wrote: »
    Do you ever get people who don't have the necessary permissions to buy alcohol asking you to get some for them?

    Hi, and thanks for the question.

    I haven't had that experience, but I have given a gift of wine or spirits to a couple of people who were here on short term consultancies and were not able to get a liquor permit. We don't have a maid, but we do have someone who comes to our home a few days a week. She doesn't have a liquor permit, and we know she likes a glass of wine, so we will gift her a couple of bottles for Christmas/Easter/Birthday etc.

    I have no doubt that there is a black market in alcohol, but I have no interest in it. The risks of being caught are probably low but the consequences (deportation) are too high.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,130 ✭✭✭James Bond Junior


    Hi, and thanks for the question.

    I haven't had that experience, but I have given a gift of wine or spirits to a couple of people who were here on short term consultancies and were not able to get a liquor permit. We don't have a maid, but we do have someone who comes to our home a few days a week. She doesn't have a liquor permit, and we know she likes a glass of wine, so we will gift her a couple of bottles for Christmas/Easter/Birthday etc.

    I have no doubt that there is a black market in alcohol, but I have no interest in it. The risks of being caught are probably low but the consequences (deportation) are too high.

    I'm surprised to read that, I bring people along with me to the shop and they pick out what they want on my license. Nobody bats an eyelid. I even take my wife's and mine and juggle between the two in the one transaction.

    Great AMA, I'm following with interest to compare and contrast. I'd 1000% agree with early sentiments, ME cuisine is unbelievably good.


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


    I'm surprised to read that, I bring people along with me to the shop and they pick out what they want on my license. Nobody bats an eyelid. I even take my wife's and mine and juggle between the two in the one transaction.

    Great AMA, I'm following with interest to compare and contrast. I'd 1000% agree with early sentiments, ME cuisine is unbelievably good.

    Hi and thank you.

    I assume you're in the UAE?

    In Qatar you can't even go into the shop (and there is only one off-licence) without a permit. No other shop sells alcohol, and the hotels will not sell take-away.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,130 ✭✭✭James Bond Junior


    Hi and thank you.

    I assume you're in the UAE?

    In Qatar you can't even go into the shop (and there is only one off-licence) without a permit. No other shop sells alcohol, and the hotels will not sell take-away.

    Oman. Did UAE, wasn't for us, Muscat is the perfect alternative.


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


    Oman. Did UAE, wasn't for us, Muscat is the perfect alternative.

    I've only visited briefly, but I liked what I saw. Anyone who has lived in a few places in the Gulf talks about Oman.


  • Registered Users Posts: 709 ✭✭✭Sir Galahad


    Hello, my wife and I are 60, she's a nurse and I was in FInancial Services for 30 years (self employed). We fancy doing a stretch abroad as our kids are all grown up and moved on. Are we too old and where would I find details of agency to look for employment ? Thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 353 ✭✭Gerard93


    Thanks OP for doing this, finding it a great read and an interesting insight into life there.
    Good Luck !


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,435 ✭✭✭Scoundrel


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

    Ah fcuk up ya virtue signalling ballbag


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