When it was announced that Stomp were coming to Doha, there was a real buzz about the place. I knew nothing about the musical theatre show but quickly realised it must be something pretty special once I started reading up about it, although quite how a group of 8 people were going to entertain a full auditorium by making music with everyday objects - brooms, dustbins, kitchen sinks, etc still remained a bit of a mystery but hey ho I was interested to find out!!
Simon purchased two tickets for the first show on the evening of the 6th June - they were the cheapest tickets at QR300 (that's over £50 each!) but in a prime position on the front row of the upper balcony and slap bang right in the middle of the theatre hall. I printed the tickets and took them to Virgin Megastore to be authenticated and waited for the date of the show to arrive.
However, a week or so before the anticipated event Si came home from work and announced that he had been invited to a stag do in Bahrain that weekend and would be flying out on the afternoon of the 6th, missing the show! Two of our children also then came home with party invitations for the same afternoon/evening, add the regular meetings at Cubs and Beavers into the mix and it started to look like I would have to miss out and just sell the tickets for the show to someone else. But for once my selfish streak emerged and instead I somewhat guiltily told the children that they would have to turn down their party invites!
On the morning of that first show the year 5 children at DESS (Ben and Matthew's school) were really lucky to have a visit from the performers of Stomp who came into the school to run a workshop for them (see the photos below - taken by a member of staff). This was to give just a small taster of what was in store later that evening.
So that night, after finding a friend who was happy to come along to the show with me, we headed off to the QNCC (Qatar National Convention Centre), an amazing building with a rather interesting spider sculpture inside it. We then sat spellbound for an hour and a half as the most fantastic performance was played out before us. There was humor, a few acrobatic tricks and the most amazing musical beats created from the most bizarre everyday objects, including shopping trolleys! When you put together a list of all the objects that were used in the show it sounds very peculiar, but I absolutely loved the entire show, which tours worldwide, and can't recommend it highly enough if it comes to a City near you (unfortunately we were not permitted to take photos of the performance)!
I am now forever hopeful that Matthew will soon forget about the laser wars party he missed out on and Rebecca will shrug off the pool party she missed with friends at, not just anybodys Villa/pool, but at an al Thani home (important people here in Doha)! - kids I am truly sorry but at least Mum had a fun night out!!
Standing outside the main entrance at DESS
When contemplating our move to Qatar, schooling for the children was right at the top of our list of things that were important to consider. We were extremely lucky that the children were in fantastic state schools in the UK and it was essential that we were able to find equally as good schools for them out in the Middle East, otherwise the move quite simply wasn't going to happen.
Simon did a lot of research on-line (it was essential to us that the schools followed the British curriculum) and together we then came up with a short list of potential schools we wanted to find out more about.
Subsequently, during our fact finding trip to Qatar in Jan 2011, we asked to be shown around 4 schools - DESS, Doha College, Sherborne and the Doha British School.
Our outright favourite school was DESS (for children aged 3-11), which had a wonderful feel to it as soon as you walked through the school gate, and immediately I knew this was where I wanted the boys to go. We were also impressed by the Secondary school at Doha College and earmarked that for Rebecca. The other 2 schools had certain positives but unfortunately just didn't tick quite enough boxes for us.
Having chosen the 2 most popular British schools here in Doha, we then had to actually get the children places at the schools for the start of the academic year in Sept 2011. We had read about the huge waiting lists and heard stories about people waiting over a year or more to get a place so anxiously submitted our applications as soon as we returned to the UK.
Rebecca's application for Doha College went through relatively smoothly as we were applying for a place for Year 7, which is the first year of Secondary School. As an academically selective school, no-one had an automatic right of entry into this year group at Doha College and our timing was such that she was able to sit the on-line entrance tests through her Junior School in the UK and be offered her place alongside all other applicants. Her place was secured in the March.
In terms of anxiety, getting the places for the boys at DESS was the most frustrating. We submitted the applications for Ben and Matthew to start in Years 3 and 1 respectively in the Autumn Term but then had to simply play a waiting game. Based on their UK school reports we were not required to attend an interview and the boys were immediately put on the waiting list. We were advised that Ben was 8th on the list for entry into his year group and Matthew was 30th for his!!
As time ticked by, Simon was under pressure to accept and negotiate a date to start his new job. We wanted to move as a family but we didn't want to move without having secured the schooling. We were also not prepared to start the boys in a different school in Doha while waiting for their places at DESS to be confirmed.
We couldn't believe our luck, therefore, when Ben was offered a place in the May. Fees were paid for the rest of the Summer term to secure this place and we continued to wait for news about Matthew. According to the sibling rule, Matthew was now able to be moved right up to the top of the list for his age group and just a couple of weeks later we had the much awaited email that he was in too!
First day in Year 7 at Doha College - Sept 2011
In the 18 months we have been here in Doha I have never been in any doubt about the decisions we made about their schooling as all three children are happy and excelling where they are. As a Primary school, I spend a lot of time at the DESS site and it really is a lovely school. There is obviously less parental involvement at Doha College Secondary, which is to be expected when your children are older, but we know Rebecca is receiving an excellent education there and has made a wide circle of friends. She also has opportunities to participate in a wide selection of activities and there are good communication links between us and the school.
Check out the school websites using the links below for further details.http://www.dess.org/http://www.dohacollege.com/