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!

New Chapter in Life, Flight Required

“إنت تريد وأنا أريد، والله يفعل ما يريد”

“You want and I want, but God reflects what He wants.”

It has been an exciting, stressful, joyful and challenging last couple of years. You think you have all your bases covered, plans A, B and C set in order but a moment in time truly changes it all. If I knew last year, last month, last week the adventures I would’ve had and continue to have, I may not have been able to appreciate these blessings being bestowed upon me as much as I do right this instant… Alhamdulillah (Praises to God)!!

I still stand by my many beliefs and convictions but I know today that I’ve grown to come a long way then where I was just in the past two years. Being in our 30s, as my wise cousin Nora tells me, is truly where the adventures begin. Nora, thanks! You’re advice has gotten me to realize what a blast I’m having thus far! You are without a doubt one of my inspirations!

With that said, I’m going to be embarking on a new chapter in my life. To those with their fingers crossed, NO I’m not getting married! hehehe This chapter had been thought out for a while but God had me waiting patiently until the opportune moment for it to be written. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way honestly.

Insha’Allah (God willing), I’ll be relocating from San Francisco, CA to Doha, Qatar where I’ll be working with an American-Qatari company. I plan to live out there for the next year with ample time to travel across the Middle East, parts of Asia and Europe. I personally couldn’t be happier, especially when the most important people in my life are even more happier for me and the decision I’ve so suddenly taken.

Suddenly as in leaving the country in less than two weeks!

Yes, it all happened that fast! Like I said, it literally takes a moment to realize that your plans must change so that God’s more perfected plan takes place. For those upset that things don’t go their way, please give it time. I promise you, the best will come forward. You’ll realize, as I am right now, that had you known then what you know right now, you wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Have faith in God and He’ll never give you a chance to doubt Him.

It’s funny that my Baba wants me to stay put despite being so proud of me because he’s worried about my comfort. Yet I keep thinking about it, had he not taken that big step 45 years ago and relocated to America from Egypt, stepping out of his comfort zone, would he or his family be where they are today? My Mama couldn’t be happier despite hating that I’m leaving so soon. My siblings are acting like I’m not going anywhere by not being around as I frantically pack my things. However, they’ve already made travel plans to visit me and Mama is coming with me to Los Angelos to see me off.

To my parents, my siblings and family… I thank you for teaching me that life indeed is too short to not take on new adventures and to step out of my own comfort zone. To my close friends and confidants, you know who you are… THANK YOU! I love you and already miss you!

I do solemnly promise to continue blogging on this new chapter in my life while continuously posting pieces of my Egyptian Summer journal. Until next time, back to frantically packing.

Until next time, from Doha! =)
Ms. Hala

Egyptian Summer – Update?

I’m two months into my Egyptian summer now. I know, I promised to post blogs on my adventures here but with extremely slow internet in the country side where I’m spending most of my time, I opted to update via Twitter & Facebook. I’m still getting the hang of blogging via my Blackberry phone so please bare with me. (I’m extremely tempted to purchase a Blackberry Playbook. I know, I’m getting sucked into the tablet market but what can I do, I’m a nerd!)

In the meantime, everyone’s been asking me, how’s Tahrir Square? Sadly, I haven’t been allowed to go as of yet. Yes, for safety reasons, my father and cousins have not encouraged my passion to be part of the Egyptian protests. However, my other cousins and I have a plan of our own… let’s just hope it works.

FREE AL-MOLOUHY NOW!!

In 2009, Syrian government arrested 17 year old Tal Al-Molouhy for posting “anti-government” sentiments on her blog. Later she was charged for spying for the USA for a post where she asks US President Barack Obama to do more in support of the Palestinean cause.

Today, now 19 years old, Al-Molouhy was taken to court in blindfolded and in chains to receive a 5 year sentence.

This is NOT acceptable!! Please sign this online petition to help voice your solidarity with Al-Molouhy and demand her release!

More information on Al-Molouhy’s case will be posted here as well as via Twitter.

Sources: Reuters Africa

Why This News Junkie is Boycotting CNN

I’ve been deemed a news junkie by family and friends for many years. In one seating, I’ll switch between CNN and Aljazeera while reading local news and news blogs online while getting alerts on my Blackberry for specific stories I’m following. Almost every day, another news media has showed its biased ways. This time around belonged to CNN.

Octavia Nasr has been with CNN for 20 years as the Middle Eastern Affairs Senior Editor. She was the reason behind CNN’s ability to report on Iran’s elections last year. She has always been the primary go to person for Rick Sanchez, Anderson Cooper and others on CNN whenever reporting on anything Middle East arose. The importance of her work and friendly demeanor has granted her a mass following on Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

Last weekend, Nasr tweeted:

Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot. #Lebanon

That tweet has since been removed and replaced with:

Regret tweet about Fadlallah death bc I didn’t explain specific respect for standing up for Muslim women. http://bit.ly/adrp95

The link takes you to her CNN blog where Nasr not only explains why she had some “respect” for Fadlallah but also apologizes for her “error in judgement” when it came to her former tweet. However, that blog came in response to the anti-anything-pro-Arab-and/or-Muslim-without-any-form-of-understanding right winged fanatics who immediately bashed CNN over her “biased” tweet. They seem to have forgotten her work and contributions to the American and international media on the issues involving the Middle East. They also seem to have either forgotten or cared less to remember that Fadlallah was not part of Hezbollah. He was pushed out by the group for his “moderate” views and disagreement on many of their ideologies. Nasr’s feelings was simply in relation to the things they did agree on, especially when it came to women’s rights.

Of course, that doesn’t matter. Just like it doesn’t matter that the Lebanese people voted for Hezbollah in their parliament; the Palestinian people voted for Hamas to govern Gaza and are now suffering the consequences of acting upon their right to vote.

Personally, I don’t agree with either group or most of their ideologies. However, who am I to tell a people how to vote, how to believe, what to speak or what to think? The line between speaking your mind (with respect of course) and being politically correct has some how vanished.

The fact is, if we don’t like them, we deem them as terrorists and forbid anyone to think of them as otherwise. Yet if we like them, we deem them as friends and forbid anyone to think of them as otherwise. Now that’s what I call, “freedom of speech!”

According to CNN’s internal memo posted by Mediaite yesterday, it was agreed that Nasr is “to leave the company”. For CNN to advertise that they are a network that showcases all points of views, firing Nasr contradicts just that. To basically do to Nasr what Hearst did to Helen Thomas is absurd and simply stupid. Just like the Hearst lost me as a reader, CNN has lost me as a long time viewer.

Other Sources:

Octavia Nasr’s Twitter Page

Salon – 8 July 2010

MEDIAite – 7 July 2010

NY Times – 7 July 2010

NY Times – 8 July 2010