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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Hungry yet? I promise there’s more! *sips coffee and types faster*
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!
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!
Are you an American living abroad like me? Are you following this year’s insane elections like the rest of the world is? Do you have any idea how to practice your voting rights aboard?
Please make sure to visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program, also known as FVAP, and follow the proper procedures for your state. Even if you missed the registration for the primaries, some states are still open until May or June. Otherwise, at least be sure you can vote, come November.
A kind reminder to my lady peeps… generations before us, ladies died for us to have a right to vote. Please do your part, make your vote count.
I get a lot of questions thanks to my blog series, Living the Confused Expatriate Life. Inspired by a few people I follow on Periscope, especially The Three Emiratis (@FakeSalt), I figured, why not answer your questions live!
Thus throughout September, I’ll be broadcasting live on Periscope about #MyExpatLife. During the broadcast, viewers can post questions and rewatch the broadcast on Periscope for 24 hours. I’ll also post parts of the broadcast right here for my peeps to check out later in the month.
So if you’re wondering what’s it like being an American in Qatar, have questions about the Middle East, or just want to check out my awesome foodie life, be sure to be on Periscope when I go live all this month!
Periscope handle is the same as Twitter, @MsHalaCo.
Disclaimer: There’s a 10 hour time difference between my hometown of San Francisco, California and Doha, Qatar.