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.

 

Screenshot_20170610-154838
“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.

Living the Confused Expatriate Life

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
The Art of Being Humble
By: Ms. Hala

 

It wasn’t a difficult decision to present my resignation as I had accepted an offer  I simply couldn’t refuse. It was nonetheless, bittersweet. The automotive industry is a very tough and challenging industry in all of the Middle East. I faced some of the toughest challenges in my entire career and take great pride in what I was able to accomplish during this time. However, I was truly blessed to have worked in this company. Not for the money, the status que or even the perks that come with working in this industry. I was truly blessed because I worked with some genuinely good people, people whom expected nothing in return from you no matter what it may be. I consider many of the people here friends, if not family.

Just this past weekend, I had an appointment to get my car serviced. The perk of being in the automotive industry is the support you get throughout the process. However, it’s always way more than I expect when it comes to my fellow colleagues! Our main workshop, like many others in Qatar, is located in the Industrial Area, a good drive from Doha. After taking my car in, my colleague picked me up from the workshop and dropped me off at the office as I had to get some work done. Afterwards, one of our fellow drivers at the office dropped me off to where I needed to be. Another driver from the office went to the Industrial Area and picked up my car so that I didn’t have to make that trip via taxi. My colleagues at the workshop, after calling to explain everything to me, emailed me the invoice so that I can make my payment conveniently at my office the next day.

None of them had to do this for me, especially our drivers whom have a packed schedule on our busiest day of the week. Yet none of the drivers would take a single riyal from me as a “thank you”. What can I possibly do to show my appreciation?

Everyone at the office knows I love the American classic, Dunkin Donuts. Having a branch located so close to the office (and all over Doha) has not been so great for my hips but it hasn’t hurt my wallet to say the least. However, the same doesn’t apply to our fellow drivers. It isn’t the best paid job here and something as simple as Dunkin coffee and donuts is a far fetched luxury. Knowing this, from time to time, whenever we’ve had a rough or good month, I’ll walk in with something for the team. Dunkin is their favorite.

Light bulb!

Earlier this morning, and why I’m writing this rant, I was reminded of the blessing I had of working with such selfless people. It literally takes a minute for someone to just educate you on an art form many in this day and age of accepted selfishness and narcissism have forgotten.

“Madam, thank you so much! You bring us cakes and sweets, so good!” One of the two driver’s exclaimed to me this morning.

A bit surprised, I said, “For what my friend? THANK YOU! You helped me out big time yesterday, this is the least I can do.”

“No, no. Thank you!” and he walked away giving me the biggest smile.

We take a lot of things for granted in life and sometimes forget to be humble about it. If I was taught anything by my fellow colleagues I am bidding farewell this month, it was how to be humble, be grateful for the small things and listen empathetically for in more ways than one I am truly blessed. For that, my fellow colleagues at DOMASCO, I thank you.

Living the Confused Expatriate Life

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 7 of a Few… Expat Expectations
By: Ms. Hala

Now halfway through my third year of living in Qatar, I’m asked over and over (and over and over), “When do you plan on going home?” “How much longer do you think you can stay here?” “Why are you still here?”

What if I don’t have a set time planned? What if I don’t know how much longer I’m meant to be here? What if it’s because I want to be here? What if… why? Why should I even be answering these questions?

Originally, I had planned what was expected, to work in Qatar for one year and go home. From my discussions with fellow expats, that’s the expectation for most people that take a job aboard for the first time; one year of work to make the dollars then take a nonstop one-way flight home. Yet I don’t recall reading that in the invisible book, “Expat Expectations”.

I’m a firm believer of, “you want and I want but God (swt) does what He wants.”

I moved with that “Expat Expectations” plan in mind. There was this management position that provided an awesome apartment with a view, a top of the line car and an unbelievable salary package waiting for me like it’s nobody’s business!

Snap! Snap!

Let me tell you, I ended up in the tiniest studio apartment with no windows, rented an ugly orange Kia Rio (it still hurts to think about that one) and was practically living out of my own pocket my first 6 months. I take a look back now and realize that my original plans and expectations were not realistic nor the right plans for me. God’s plans for me couldn’t have been better timed and executed.ExpatExpectations2

I’ve come to fall in love with this country – the region really – and after the first 6 months of testing the waters, I signed a long term contract with my current employer. No regrets. I’m weighing my options for my next move but the fact that I don’t know what that move may be yet, is all part of the excitement, the living spontaneously, the adventure I came seeking in the first place.

I’m not saying don’t be prepared for the worst or spend haphazardly or even to not have goal as an expat. Far from it! I’m saying one doesn’t need to abide by anyone’s own set of “expat expectations”. Live the moment on your own terms, period. I mean, if being an expat isn’t part of living on the ever expanding global horizon, what’s the point of being an expat?

Am I still a confused expat? TOTALLY! Would I have it any other way? Nope.

Snap! Snap!

Living the Confused Expatriate Life

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 6 of a Few… Two Years Already?
By: Ms. Hala

I’ve passed my two year mark as an American expatriate living in Qatar this past July. WOW! Taking a moment to evaluate some of the things I’ve learned and discovered throughout this ongoing adventure I call #InLivingQatar.

As an expat:

  • I’m to expect the unexpected, period.
  • I know now that nothing is like how it’s done back home (nor anywhere else for that matter) and sometimes that’s a good thing.
  • I’m grateful to this country for not taxing my anything.
  • Not everyone is obligated to speak YOUR language. You live in Qatar, make an effort to learn the language! If you don’t speak a second language, don’t miss out on the opportunity to do so.
  • Home is what you make of it. It’s the simple things from the food to the adventures that make being an expat in the Middle East oh so wonderful.

About myself:

  • Apparently, I enjoy shopping for things other than shoes, office supplies and kitchenware. I mean, when was I ever known to be one who wouldn’t miss a sale at Mango (my new found obsession) or appreciate Riva for the size 4 pants that fit my proudly curvy body? REJOICE!
  • My savings isn’t very happy with the above mentioned self discovery.
  • I simply don’t care anymore about the pettiest of things that just do not matter. I’m too busy laughing at the silliest of things.
  • I’ve always had a thing for men in thobs, living in Qatar solidified it. Seriously, ANY MAN can look amazing in a thob.
I mean, can you resist this "thobi"? No, no you can't (and you shouldn't). #JustSaying
I mean, can you resist this “thobi”? No, no you can’t (and you shouldn’t). #JustSaying

Speaking of men:

  • Dating it’s a coin toss which isn’t much different than it was back home. I’ve realized that when I decided to accept dating someone I probably wouldn’t have dated say three or four years ago.
  • I’m still the least romantic person I know and thanks to my ex for catching on to that. =P
  • Chivalry is not dead and a part of me is still caught by surprise.
  • “Momken netwaseel?” or “May we keep in touch?” has to be the funniest pickup line ever! So polite yet stupid and invasive in so many ways… especially when it’s the 20 year old kids almost every single time.
  • Wearing Ed Hardy outfits, I mean the whole covered from hat to shoes, never has and never ever will be cute. Walk away now.

In dealing with people:

  • If you are not amongst good company, start by being part of a social group be it through Twitter, MeetUp or otherwise.
  • For whatever reason, the most drama queens I’ve dealt with in this country have been men.
  • Don’t be surprised that there’s just as much fake people as there is fake designer wear floating around. It’s really a global epidemic sadly, get over it.
  • This may be the safest country in the world but stop taking it for granted. There are people that can still break into your car, knock on your door at odd hours and simply just not be safe for you to be around.

Here’s to another year of an adventurous #InLivingQatar! =)

Living the Confused Expatriate Life – Part 5

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 5 of a Few… Hot Water
By: Ms. Hala

When I first landed in Qatar, I knew I would be learning a great deal. I didn’t realize that my first lesson would be a survival one, as simple as turning on a faucet.

Landing in the peak of Qatar’s summer months in 2012, after a long 17+ hour flight, I exclaimed to my host and his daughter that I needed to take a nice cool shower. They in turn responded, “If you want to take a (semi) cool shower, turn the faucet to hot water.”

“What?”

“Yes, hot water is warm, cold water is really hot.”

“Oh, OK? Was it installed wrong or is that just how it is here? I thought hot/left, cold/right was universal?”

“It is just not in the summer months. Qatar uses a water tank system, water gets hit by the heat pretty bad.”

Did I believe them? Yes but I had to see this for myself.  I turned the faucet right for cold and sure enough, without hesitation, steam of boiling water was rising. I then quickly turned it on right for hot and after a moment’s time, luke warm water was a flowing.

How am I going to survive this heat without cold water? I didn’t have this problem when I spent 4 long hot summer months in Egypt. If anything, the water was too cold and I’d turn on the water heater!

Sigh.

Here’s to my third summer living the confused expatriate life in Qatar. The water heater is turned off. The faucet is turned left for a sweet luke warm shower to start my day! Happy Thursday folks!

Living the Confused Expatriate Life – Part 2 of a Few

After my third month living in Qatar, I just stopped trying to answer to these people. Yes, I’m here alone with the blessings of my family. However, that’s when I came to realize that there are very few people like me in Qatar and most young ladies are living here either with family or a spouse, not alone. I miss my mommy.

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 2 of a Few… Marital Status
By: Ms. Hala

I am not married. I am not engaged. I am not in a relationship. I am single. It has followed me around to no end, even when I’ve moved thousands of miles away, to a conservative Arab country.

When it comes to my status here in Qatar, I’ve come across two reactions in people.

The first being the cheerleaders. They are the ones with nothing but kind and positive reinforcements. It’s even more astounding when it comes from those I least expect it from. For example, the older Egyptian gentlemen whom I work with that are always encouraging me.  In the last four months that I’ve worked with one of the managers, not a day goes by without him always complementing my strength and determination, especially during some of the challenges we’ve faced at the office, for doing what I do. With limited internet access in the past few months, when I do log on, I find a good number of emails and messages via social media from young people whom have noted how they follow-up on my latest Qatar adventures with inspiration. Some of them, already here in Qatar, have blessed me with their friendship.

The second being the haters. They are the ones with nothing but stupid, stereotypical and just plain envious words because I can’t find any other reason for their bad energy. These are the people that feel the need to say one of three things:

“You’re here, alone? No family? No husband? But why? You poor thing.”

“I could do what you’re doing now but so-and-so said men don’t like girls like that and I really want to get married.”

“I wish I was you! You’re doing everything I’m too dipshit*  to do on my own! People talk you know.”

Sigh.

After my third month living in Qatar, I just stopped trying to answer to these people. Yes, I’m here alone with the blessings of my family. However, that’s when I came to realize that there are very few people like me in Qatar and most young ladies are living here either with family or a spouse, not alone. I miss my mommy.

Please, don’t tell me of how you could do things for yourself if your life revolves around someone else. You people are more irritable to me than those whom keep trying to set me up with this “great guy”. Please realize that not all of us are living up to some odd standard of husband hunting. Some of us actually live for ourselves, have more meaning to life than just finding someone to accept us. I mean you want to get married, great, but life doesn’t need to revolve around the idea.

And for crying out loud, if you want to do something, just shut the fuck up and go for it. Trust me, when you don’t do nothing, people will have something to say about it. When you do anything, guess what? People will have something to say about it. Funny thing though, most people don’t give two shits about what you are (or aren’t) doing so I’m still trying to figure out why you even care about the opinion of those people.

Sigh.

As of last month though, I’ve come across the third reaction that has started to get under my skin.

The third being some of Qatar’s policies. Before I go on a rant here, I want to state that I understand why some of these policies are in play, to prevent human trafficking and prostitution. However, there’s got to be some kind of line of reasoning, understanding, common sensing (Is that even a word? Well it should be.) around here. And here’s where my rant begins.

Exhibit A: In order to obtain my Qatar Residency Permit (RP), I had to go through a medical screening. Mainly an X-ray of the chest for TB screening and two different blood tests. For those sponsored under employment, the company pays in advance for the fees or refunds you for it while all others usually pay upfront during their appointment. If you are born in Qatar, you don’t go through this lovely experience.

The Medical Commission that I was blessed to attend through my place of work was the most disgusting place in Qatar. It starts out nice, divided into a section for the ladies and a section for the men. Or I thought, until I drove towards the ladies section to find swarms of men waiting outside the ladies’ only entrance. I entered alone, passing the many odd stares and glares. Once inside, there were two lines, those pre-paid and those needing to pay. The pre-paid line was empty. Showed the lady at the counter my blue passport, got the up and down look before the lovely question, “You’re here through work? You’re here alone?”

“Yes” I answered back smiling sarcastically and annoyed. She kept rolling her eyes as she processed my papers and directed me to the x-ray room. After the lovely experience of being herded like animals and watched by others as I took the x-ray, twice, I picked up what was left of my dignity and went to get my first blood test. Upon looking me up on the computer, the lovely lady at the counter made stupid remarks about me being work sponsored before handing me a few documents plus a little booklet.

Not paying attention, I walked  towards the exam room where a kind nurse was assisting me in getting my blood test. Having small talk and looking at the booklet because I hate needles (don’t ask me how I got my lip pierced!), I realized what the booklet was, “Prayers for the Dead”. Really? Bitch gave me a prayer book for the dead? Kind nurse laughed at a comment I made as she instructed me to go to a private clinic for my second blood test. I gave the bitch the booklet back stating, “I’m not dead!”

Throughout the short drive to the clinic I kept thinking what the hell was her intention giving me that booklet? Am I as good as dead? Or did she just run out of “Prayers for the Living” booklets?

Deeply annoyed sigh.

Exhibit B: I finally found a nice little apartment, comfortable for myself and my little devil child, Ms. Doha in a brand new gated community. Upon registering and signing, it was brought to the attention of the gentleman handling my application that the contract would be under my happy name.

Ms. Doha had a hard time adapting to the new place. She did her best to get comfy on her first rough night... #FirstWorldKittyProblems
Ms. Doha is having a hard time adapting to the new place. She did her best to get comfy on her first night… #FirstWorldKittyProblems

“Ma’am, are you registering under your name?”

“Yeeeeeees. I’m the one whom will live here.”

“Do you have an ID?”

“Yes! Here’s my Qatar ID and my passport as well.”

“Do you have a letter of employment verification?”

“No, I wasn’t told I needed one when I inquired over the phone.”

“You need a letter of employment verification to complete your application.”

“Why? My Qatar ID specifically states my place of employment as my sponsor.”

“Yes but you’re special.” He joked politely seeing my disapproved reaction. I’ve been told that reaction scares a lot of people. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing so I tried to make a curious face. It didn’t work. Poor guy continued with his charming self, “Company policy requires that you bring a letter of employment verification because you’re a single lady. We’ll extend your booking time and follow-up with you, don’t worry.”

I just stared blankly, watching other people register without a hitch. The gentleman assured that the apartment was mine and that he would follow-up with me but to please bring that letter from my employers. I left a little disappointment and fearful I was going to lose this nice place. I had to move out of my place and my lifestyle choice was the reason for the delay? Akh!

I have to say that the lovely people of our HR department were understanding and produced the necessary documentations for me within the hour. The apartment company did continuously follow-up with me until I showed up with the letter later that evening. They were generous enough to expedite my move-in date upon knowing my circumstances. People here are helpful towards a single lady, especially if she’s willing to follow company policy.

Sigh.

* Disclaimer: none of those whom made that statement actually called themselves “dipshit”, but I think they should have.

Read: Living the Confused Expatriate Life – Part 1 of a Few

Living the Confused Expatriate Life – Part 1 of a Few

However, living this expatriate life comes with a couple of interesting confusions. Maybe I just lived in this wonderful tolerant city that is San Francisco to have to deal with this identity confusion that I’m dealing with now. I’m a Muslim Egyptian American expatriate who talks in a lovely California accent but “looks” and talks Arabic like an Egyptian. Confusing much? Apparently so!

Dear Faithful Readers,

Thank you all for your kind messages after noticing my absence for the last month. It’s been rough living with limited access at my place and working hard to prove myself at this new turn in my career. I have been writing a lot, believe me! I’ve written a few parts about my expatriate life in Qatar. Let’s start it off with the piece I wrote about identity…

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 1 of a Few… Identity
By: Ms. Hala

I have lived the expatriate life here in Qatar for over 8 months now. There’s still a few bumps in the road to smooth out but overall, life is good. I’m enjoying my very busy and challenging job in a new industry. I’m apartment hunting for a third time now that my temp rent will be up soon. I’m following my 2013 resolution to a tee thus far… so life is good! Oh, did I mention I’m a legal resident of Qatar now? Oh yes baby I am! Got my residency permit a couple of weeks ago, now I can do stuff like get a monthly mobile phone service… hehehe Yes, mobile not cell… I’m catching on to the popular Euro lingo here. 😉

However, living this expatriate life comes with a couple of interesting confusions. Maybe I just lived in this wonderful tolerant city that is San Francisco to have to deal with this identity confusion that I’m dealing with now. I’m a Muslim Egyptian American expatriate who talks in a lovely California accent but “looks” and talks Arabic like an Egyptian. Confusing much? Apparently so!

When I first took on my new job, the grapevines of the office announced there’s an American among them. Aside from the fact that everyone thought the American was getting paid a bazillion dollars (that’s another entry, I promise you!), no one could tell whom the American was. Many didn’t realize until I started talking to everyone, introducing myself and getting the question, “Where’s your accent from?”

Say Whaaat?
Say Whaaat?

I reply, “I’m American”.

“Really?”

“Yes, I’m from Calfornia.”

“How long did you live there?”

“Born and raised.”

“Wow…”

“Uh huh…”

The major problem in Qatar is that everyone here is labeled based on their nationality. Even those born and raised in Qatar don’t even get a Qatar citizenship. They do get treated like Qataris with regards to “Qatarization” but aside from that, they are not even legally Qatari.

There’s this thinking that one or the other has a look, has a personality, has a way of thinking or a way of doing… and everyone’s judging you based mostely on those ideologies and stereotypes. There are so many ridiculous notions about every ethnicity out here, it’s unbelievable.

Let’s start with being an American girl and how exhausting it is to overcome that terrible stereotype. What’s the stereotype here about American girls you ask? Drum roll please… American girls have non-stop wild parties, get drunk all the time and the rest is flushed down a toilet in the morning. Mind you, many conservative expatriates here have come to this conclusion from the many movies and television shows that “always show you American girls drinking and having crrrazy parties.”

*sighing and shaking my head*

Finding an apartment under the American girl banner has simply been the most annoying experience of my life, twice! Having to do it so many times now is just torture at this point. I’m repeatedly asked where I’m from and have to answer with Egypt just to get a viewing appointment. Once they see my “Egyptian look” but hear my “berfect ingelesh”, I get asked, “Where are you from, exactly?” After going through an identity explanation, I have to further explain that the idea that us American girls are drunk party animals is just plain false. I’ve even had to emphasis that family will be joining me in Qatar permanently just so that they don’t think I will be in fact living alone and using this “extra space” for my wild parties.

*sighing angrily*

During my time as a temporary English instructor, I was asked to take on a group of young children. To my hesitation, I accepted and on the first day, disaster. One of the parents whom signed up his very disrespectful son only signed him up because it was exclaimed that the instructor was an American lady. Seeing that I wasn’t up to par, the Egyptian expatriate bee lined it to the director’s office exclaiming false advertisement. What did he expect? A tall blonde woman like the Americans he sees on television. Upon hearing this, I rolled my eyes and walked away before the ghetto San Francisco girl in me came out to bitch slap the stupid outta him!

I’m trying my best to overcome this stupid ideology that I can only be either Egyptian or American. I had an argument with an Egyptian fellow a while back over a remark I found quite offensive. He went on to say, “oh, is your American turned on? I forgot you don’t get some of our jokes.” I didn’t even know we could switch between our bicultural identities… WTF? Apparently, there’s a stupid stereotype about bicultural Americans, especially Arabs… Those whom hold an American citizenship think they are better than everyone else, act like they don’t get some traditional lingo and will use their American identity for beneficial purposes. As a first generation born Arab American, this stereotype is so far from the truth, you’ve got to wait for the six o’clock train to get there! Half my family from both sides hold an American citizenship after immigrating from Egypt in the early 70’s and 80’s. They’ve all worked tirelessly, raised their children and grandchildren, paid their taxes, contributed to the American society just like any other immigrant family from any corner of the world. They all deserve the same respect as every other American out there.

I’ve learned over time that I’m not alone in this odd confusion. The citizens of Qatar themselves are also in this weird situation where stereotypes about them isn’t only false, but many act upon it to the point of disgraceful. The stereotypes about Qataris… they are extremely conservative, snubby, spoiled and unkind individuals seeing all others as second class citizens. Not only is this stupidity far from the truth, but many dress in traditional Qatari attire in an attempt to act upon these stereotypes and intimidate others. Yes, this includes bullying people on road to outrageous behavior towards others… just disgraceful!

On New Year’s Eve, a Qatari lady was discriminated against for, get this, looking and dressing Qatari… WTF? According to Doha News, a Qatari lady was not allowed into a hotel restaurant on the said day because it was deemed inappropriate for Qatari ladies to attend. Again, WTF? Sadly, this this happens a lot across Qatar.

I must say however, for the most part, Qataris are the complete opposite of these stereotypes just like any other ethnicity being treated according to whatever stereotype is drawn up of them. Qataris are quite polite, kind and generous. They may be wealthy but not many act like it’s their forsaken right to the wealth or OK the ill treatment upon others.

An interesting example I see all the time: in Qatar, you are not to fuel your own vehicle (similar to the law in New Jersey), you are to stay in your vehicle or go to the many shops at the station while an station employee fuels your vehicle. On any given day, as I sit comfortably while another fuels my car, I’ll see a Qatari gentleman step out of his vehicle, have a small talk conversation with the employee fueling and washing down his car, before tipping and driving off. Every time I see that scene, I see the employee with a huge smile on his face. Many of these employees can use the extra tip for phone cards to call home or even save up for an occasion.

Other times, I hear of stories of how someone had their tires blown out and a Qatari pulled over in their designer attire to help out hands on. That I’ve personally experienced personally when I had my car accident. Yes, people from various backgrounds pulled over and offered to help but I gotta say, the Qataris were the ones whom stepped out of their vehicles, yelled at the rude police officer on my behalf and moved my car because, “She’s a lady and should be treated with respect.” Chivalry is still alive and kicking! Even the Qatari police officers at the police station gave it to the non-Qatari police officer for discriminating against me because I was American. “That doesn’t matter, she’s still a lady, have some manners brother!” Thank you. =)

I do have to admit that my identity has brought up many a  funny conversations.

At an event a few months ago, I was blessed to meet some wonderful people. One of them was an elder businessman whom owns one of Egypt’s first timeshare businesses. We got to talking business until I mentioned how the timeshare business in the USA works. Once I stated that yes, I was an Egyptian American, he just stared at me. “And you wear hijab?” I couldn’t stop laughing before it was like, man you just opened Pandora’s box! I went on and on about the wonderful community that is the Muslim American community; from the San Francisco Islamic School where I volunteered to the advocacy work of CAIR to the masjids where I’ve prayed at. I had to stop myself at one point because I realized I was missing my community to the brink of tears.

I know Qatar is trying really hard to create a tolerant, diverse and welcoming community. I know it will not happen over night and not by one feeling superior or the other feeling intimidated. I see the problem in Qatar as people coming from the many corners of the world with ignorant, close-minded and/or just confused and conflicted as I am. The thing is, it’s going to take a long time before the ignorant to be educated, the close-minded to be tolerant and the confused to take it all in one day at a time.

I’m in the process still of taking it all in, one day at a time.