Mum in Qatar
From our Women in Qatar series.
Blow, Baby, Blow!
When it became obvious that we would receive a direct blow from Hurricane Ike I was thrilled. Really, I was. I prayed for roof damage, hoped the fence would be blown apart and envisioned a tree on our garage.
Hurricane damage, I was convinced, would add another month or so to my existing five-month delay in joining my husband in Qatar. Friends had told me that Doha was a horrible place to live, and I did not want to go.
Friends had told me that Doha was a horrible place to live, and I did not want to go.
They said it was hot, beige and dusty and there was nothing - absolutely nothing -for mums and their kids to do. And let's not even talk about their perceptions of the driving.
I knew they were right, and the hurricane was my last hope for an extension. So I prayed.
Throughout the night I listened to the wind howling, the rain pounding and (best of all) a tall tree slamming into the house - wham wham wham wham, for a solid eight hours, and I was smugly convinced that I had hit the Home Damage Lottery. Storm over, I dashed outside only to find that the tree's bark (so to speak) was much worse than its bite.
And with that realization, but without electricity, we began to pack for Doha.
Going to the Market
Hot, beige and dusty it is - they were spot-on in that respect. And the driving? Let's call it a combat sport. But nothing to do? Hmm.
During my first couple of weeks I explored the city bit, met up for a few coffees, met some very friendly women and even attended (and hosted) several playgroups with my two young children. Not a bad start - and nothing like the picture painted by our friends. Turns out they were wrong, and so was I.
it's the healthy black market trade supplying most of the children's activities and services
Most of the activities that mums seek for their children do exist in Doha, and some of them - like soccer, swimming & martial arts - are quite easy to find. Others, though, require a bit of effort to locate. Local laws make it virtually impossible for these small, home-based businesses to become 'legal', so it's the healthy black market trade supplying most of the children's activities and services - be it baby music, drum lessons or speech therapy. These mums understandably do not want to hang out their shingle, so underground they go.
Knock, knock? Who's there?
As a seasoned expat, the one piece of advice I always offer to new arrivals is to get involved in something immediately. Don't wait until the kids get settled or the house is unpacked, and don't wait for others to come to you. Get out there and meet other mums - attend the socials at your children's nurseries & schools, volunteer with QAWS, join some of the social clubs and check in with the Qatar Professional Women's Network.
the one piece of advice I always offer to new arrivals is to get involved in something immediately.
Doha Mums is a tremendously popular outlet as well. Representing 70 nations, the nearly 800 members organize 70-100 events per month - some including the kids, some not. The newly launched Doha Mums Children's Library (the only children's library in Doha) can't be beat, either.
If you don't fall in love with the crowd at particular event the first time then try again, and again and again. Your new best friend is here - you just have to find her.
All Roads Lead to Salwa
Life for mums in Doha is undeniably different than life back home, wherever 'home' may be. The inconveniences of everyday life loom large here in Doha, and finding the things that you need - whether it be Occupational Therapists, art classes or frozen blueberries - can be challenging.
The time spent driving around looking for places and 'stuff' in this address-free city doesn't exactly add to the joy, either.
Or does it?
Had I not driven up and down Salwa Road a million times would I have ever discovered the Kitchen & Co store, which sells commercial grade cooking & baking equipment? The Saeco dealer who cheerfully (and frequently) repairs my temperamental cappuccino machine without charge? Or the Al Rifai store that sells the freshest and tastiest nuts in Doha?
The Rabbit In the Hat
One of the best things about living in Doha is the opportunity to completely reinvent yourself. Take the time to reassess your life, reinvest in your strengths and realize your goals. You'll be surprised at the possibilities in Doha.
Just ask the Special Olympics planner turned personal trainer - the corporate strategist turned children's art therapist - or the banker turned caterer. There are stories abound, and yours might be next.
The Calm Before the Storm
Having been here for two years, I am finding so much to do and have met so many fabulous people. 'Bored' is one word that does not describe me.
Now I'm just hoping for another hurricane to prevent us from leaving Doha. (One can dream, right?)
Roxanne Piper Davis morphed from being long-haul truck driver to a corporate litigation consultant. Her most recent transformation resulted in establishing Doha Mums in October 2008, one month after the arrival of Hurricane Ike.