Doha is the capital city of the state of Qatar and is located along the coast of the Persian Gulf. It is not a large city and, when we first arrived in 2011, I had a much used little map to refer to whenever I went out visiting somewhere new. However, I was able to put that aside relatively quickly and was soon navigating this small, but quickly expanding city with ease (and that's saying something if you are to believe what my husband says about my navigational skills!).
In January 2012, the population of Qatar is reported to have exceeded 1.76 million people with over 60% of these people living in Doha. Men outnumber women greatly here (3 men to every lady!) and it is obvious to see straight away the huge diversity of nationalities here - in fact, Qatari nationals are in the minority and account for only about 20% of the country's entire population. The majority of residents are expatriates, coming in the main from South Asian countries - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Phillipines, etc. There are however a substantial number of Western folk here too and after the initial culture shock when we first moved here I have never felt particularly out of place when I am out and about in the City.
With some stunning buildings, Doha really is a beautiful place if you can look past the
dusty and unlandscaped roads that you often find yourself driving along when travelling away from the heart of the city and between landmarks. Don't get me wrong as some areas are beautiful and green with the same feel as Dubai, but with the hot climate here and the constant care these areas need to maintain them, I can forgive that not everywhere has been afforded that magic touch yet.
The City is a hive of activity in its drive for expansion and growth, with cranes and new buildings changing the skyline at an alarming rate. Everybody says that Qatar is about 10 years behind Dubai in its growth and development and it is obvious to see that the Qatari people are determined to fulfil their quest for continued expansion. New projects are starting daily and we know they will get finished.....eventually, but maybe not on quite the schedule that had initially been predicted. The long awaited IKEA is however now due to open in January 2013 and is currently the talk of the expat community - it's the little things that please us here!!
In Doha you have to drive pretty much everywhere. Gone are the days of just stepping out of the house and taking a pleasant little walk to school, to the shops or just to a friend's house (unless they live on your Compound that is!). It is a shame but I can no longer leave the house and simply go for a run like I used to in the UK. Instead I am confined to running on the treadmill, doing laps of the Compound or driving over to perhaps the Corniche or Aspire Park to get some exercise (when the heat is not too relentless). Needless to say I don't run as much as I used to and this is just one of the things I do miss about my old life.
And that is just it - for everything I like about my life here in the desert, there is always a gentle reminder of the life I have left behind. I have to hope that the new experiences we gain by moving to this foreign land will enrich our lives in such a way that we will not regret those years our family will inevitably have lost out on in the UK. I also want to change those blank faces and swap them for knowing looks and hope to achieve this by sharing snippets of our life in Doha through this site, so please do return to see new posts here soon!!