Living the Confused Expatriate Life

Has it Been Five Years Already? – My thoughts on what I’ve learned as I hit five years of expat living in Qatar.

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Has It Been Five Years Already?
By: Ms. Hala

On June 30th, 2012, I landed in Qatar thinking I knew what to expect. I had never lived in another city in America before, let alone another country so… of course, I was wrong! I thought I was only going to be expat living for a year, a year and a half tops. Of course, I was wrong. I thought I was going to make a dollar out of 15 cents, gold out of dirt, something out of nothing. Of course, I was wrong.

 

It has been five years –FIVE YEARS– since I got off that plane and was hit by the summer’s humid air, freaked out when the cold water taps were boiling hot and learning to sleep with the AC on full blast. I have learned to expect the unexpected and struggled through those last five years to make something out of myself.

 

Along this journey, I’ve made life long friends, laughed my heart out and experienced things I don’t think I would have staying at home, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, the world is so grand but our bubble is so small. If I learned anything, anything at all, from being living the expat life, it’s to go beyond the bubble, even for just a moment and live a little in this grand world. Despite it all, for the things I’ve learned, it’s so worth it.

 

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“Qatar” – image courtesy of @ftmalthani

Qatar has an odd charm to it, flaws and all. The expat life here is not perfect but it’s a blessing to experience. As I start packing, not knowing how much longer I’m staying in Qatar (more on that later), I’m at peace. Alhamdulillah, I worked hard, surrounded myself with good people, ate some delicious food and discovered as much of the region as I could.

 

My time in Qatar will always be unforgettable. I can’t image having the experiences I’ve had else where. I’ll always pray for God to continue blessing this beautiful nation and the people within it that make it up it’s beauty. Qatar may be small but mighty and come to think of it, so am I.

Iftar @ Streets of Arabia – A Snapchat Story

Streets of Arabia Ramadan Tent - Doha Marriott Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Inspired by the success of Street Food Doha, the lovely Doha Marriott is at it again for the second year with Streets of Arabia. Dishes from all corners of the region, such as Sudan, Morocco and Qatar, are the stars of the streets. I started with the Moroccan harira soup and was tempted to go for seconds but there was much to discover throughout the restaurant gallery turned street food galore.

Headed to Sudan for stew, Egypt for hawashy, Lebanon for grills, Qatar for majbous, Turkey for kavurma and India for dahi vada. I was not disappointed in the least bit! Desserts were good, the qatayef were a hit for me. I just wish they had them in serving sizes rather than “serve yourself” type setup, people get a little too excited around desserts. #JustSaying

Service, as always, was professional and friendly. I just wish some of the serving staff were more knowledgable of some of the dishes they were serving. The setup is simple, nothing over the top, but nothing plain either. It’s a very chill and casual space for iftar, my kind of chill to be honest. It’s so chill, even the famous Ramadan camels, Bashoosh and Sahara were just chilling in the warm breeze outside the hotel with their new baby girl, Samara. Yep, it’s a girl! Woohoo!

Iftar @ Al Jawhara – A Snapchat Story

Al Jawhara Oasis Ramadan Tent - InterContinental The City Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato For the third year running, Al Jawhara of The Intercontinental The City has been a hidden gem of the Ramadan season. Not a ridiculously expansive buffet, just the good stuff in the beautifully decorated hall.

The decor remains as the classic Arabian night theme. Seatings are set up nicely and rearrange accordingly, giving you space to move and every seat was a good seat to see the live band and tanora dancer during suhour. On the sides, you have tent like booth seatings and lit lanterns throughout the hall.

The service within the tent is very attentive, friendly and always with a smile. Management and marketing teams passed by to genuinely check on us, which did not just happen because we were invited guests but it’s consistent to how we’ve been treated as paying guests as well. I very much appreciate the consistency in the service provided.

For 195QR, you’re getting your money’s worth! Desserts was probably my favorite this time around, especially the fresh crepes with orange sauce which I topped with chocolate ice cream and nuts. Qatayef were made fresh as well and probably the best I’ve had in a very long time in Qatar. Last year, the freshly made shawarma wraps here was my favorite, done to absolute perfection. Sadly this time around, didn’t get my hands on the shawarma as it seemed to have run out on my two visits to the station.

Overall, I believe the buffet menu changes so you don’t necessarily get the same thing twice in one week. The only constant is the live cooking stations dedicated to pasta, shawarma and one of the dessert sections. Yep, there are two dessert sections!

I have to give them props for monitoring not only the food’s freshness but preventing waste. In speaking with the team, they noted that food was made almost to order (quantity to bookings with fresh additions as needed) to help prevent waste. Suhour was a la carte last year but by popular demand, the buffet is back but on a smaller scale to prevent waste. Kudos ICTC team!

 

Note: I’ve been to Al Jawhara Ramadan Tent a few times over the years, both as a guest and customer. My opinions on my blog and social media are strictly my own. Please contact if you’d like permission to share/repost this content.

Iftar Tasting @ L’auberge – A Snapchat Story

L'auberge - Warwick Doha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato In case you missed it, here’s my Snapchat story from the Iftar Tasting at L’auberge in Warwick Hotel Doha.

Throughout the month of Ramadan, L’auberge will be hosting an Arabian iftar with a Turkish flair. Have to say my favorite dish was the chicken maqluba and of course the dessert selection by renowned Egyptian pastry chef, Amin Wahba. Do not miss out on his famous feteer or oum ali, made fresh every night. #YumminessAchieved!

 

Note: I was a guest of L’auberge but my opinions on my blog and social media are strictly my own. Please contact if you’d like permission to share/repost this content.

Ladies’ Night @ Trader Vic’s – A Snapchat Story

In case you missed it, here’s my Snapchat story from last week’s Ladies’ Night at Trader Vics!

Trader Vic's - Hilton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato In case you didn’t know, every Wednesday night is Ladies’ Night at Trader Vics, Hilton Doha! Unlimited drinks and bites for two hours for 100QR! Even us hijabis and/or non drinkers can join in on the fun!🍹

You can read my review on Zomato and watch the full Snapchat story below!

 

Note: I’ve been to Trader Vic’s for Ladies’ night a few times, both as a guest and customer. My opinions on my blog and social media are strictly my own. Please contact if you’d like permission to share/repost this content.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

mshala-pinkribbonWith the month of October being Breast Cancer Awareness in most parts of the world, I encourage all my peeps to show their support for the cause. Even if it’s as simple as wearing a pink ribbon, someone will ask you about it and you’ve started a dialogue.

Ladies, please go get screened!! Early detection is key to a peace of mind, treatment and recovery. You are never too old it too young, it’s 20 minutes every year, that’s all it takes.

If you’re in the US, visit the American Cancer Society or call the National Cancer Information Center at 1800.227.2345, any day, any time.

If you’re in Qatar, visit Screen For Life or call 8001112. There are three clinics as well as a mobile clinic.

Wherever you are in the world peeps, there is a resource out there for you to utilize. For more resources and information, please visit the World Health Organization.

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The sweet set up at InterContinental The City for the launch of Pink Afternoon Tea.

Earlier this week, I was invited to the launch of the informative Pink Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental The City. Throughout the month, the Pink Afternoon Tea will be held at The Lobby Lounge, amongst other “Pink” servings in the hotel, to support the initiative here in Qatar. If you know of any place doing anything in Qatar, the US or anywhere in the world, kindly share them in the comments below.

My goal this month is to start the dialogue on early screening and prevention. I’ll be wearing my pink ribbon and visitng outlets that are providing support to the initiative.

Will you be joining me?

For those whom missed the Pink Afternoon Tea Snapchat story from earlier this week, here it is. Forgive the neck breaking turns but it’s worth it, I promise!

#QatarLinkUp – My Favorite Restaurant(s) in Doha

Every month, bloggers across Qatar come together for what’s called #QatarLinkUp. This is a fantastic way for bloggers to write about a particular theme, read and share each other’s posts on the theme. This month’s theme is, “My Favorite Restaurant in Doha.” My first blog for the link up and I’m already struggling. How can I pick just one? Have you met me? I’m always hungry!

Since I’m an equal opportunity foodie, I decided to go through my Zomato collections and randomly pick a few restaurants to showcase. They are in no particular order other than being under the collection I have them in. Here’s a sampling of what makes Doha the great gastronomic city that it is.

When I had snails & loved it! via Instagram @MsHalaCo

Best Eats, Qatar Edition

IDAM by Alan Ducasse is literally the most luxurious dining experience you will have in Qatar. On the fifth floor of the Museum of Islamic Art, the architecture, the view, the decor, the service and of course, the fusion of French and Qatari cuisine is an experience to be had at least twice in Doha. And any place that has me craving snails, has done something right!

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Parmesan truffle ravioli! #JustDrooling

However, when we aren’t spending up to 1,000QR ($275) on a meal, there are a plenty good casual spots I enjoy going to on a regular basis. For Italian, try Papermoon and go for the truffle ravioli. For Indian, Caravan Bukhara has some delicious curry dishes. For Egyptian, Layali Al Qahira always hits the spot for me.

Just want the basics? Flavorful sandwiches, salads and good coffee can be found at Monte’s or Shades Cafe in West Bay. For the best hazelnut chai latte in all of Qatar, the drive to Coffee Time in Wakrah is totally worth it. On the other side in Al Rayyan? Al Shafi Street has you covered and is accessible despite all the Metro construction happening.

My favorite quinoa salad is at Shades Cafe! via SnapChat @MsHala.co
My favorite quinoa salad is at Shades Cafe. via SnapChat @MsHala.co

Hungry yet? I promise there’s more! *sips coffee and types faster*

Small but Mighty, Qatar Edition

Places like Gokul Gujarati and Thai Corner make you not only appreciate the diversity of cuisines in Doha, but the hidden gems throughout the city.

Seriously, who would’ve thought that a thali of vegetarian dishes can be so drool worthy. Or that delivery/take out from a store front in a plaza parking lot would be delicious and sufficient. Seriously, don’t ever doubt the small guys!

For My Sweet Tooth, Qatar Edition

Oreo flavored popcorn from Let's Popcorn
Oreos flavored popcorn via Zomato @MsHala

Qatar has an abundance of dessert shops with the perfect recipes for that sweet tooth of yours. From the ones that remind me of visiting family in New York to the innovative Qatari start ups, you really can’t go wrong here. Magnolia Bakery of New York has some great selections of cakes and cupcakes, especially in the fall when pumpkin pie is in season.

For the popcorn lovers, you will get addicted to Let’s Popcorn! My favorite from the shop has to be the Oreos flavored popcorn. Also try the caramel or even the nacho’s if you are keen on the spicy side of things. Again, it’s very addictive, you’ve been warned!

Hungry yet, because I sure am now. Then again, I’m always hungry!

*gets up to eat*