Lately I’ve been looking back over the past year and what it felt to be a newbie in Doha. So this post seems fitting. I wrote it just under a year ago (you can tell because I refer to the, now dry, Mango Tree Sun Downers). This really was a huge issue when I was trying to settle in and make friends. I began to contemplate the outcome of never connecting with anyone who felt grateful like I do. To an extent I still feel this way, but I’m a bit more sympathetic to the people who are miserable. However, I still think it’s unacceptable to tell someone how miserable you are as soon as you’ve shaken hands for the first time!
By far and away the biggest shock and the hardest thing for me to deal with since arriving in Doha is the overwhelming negativity of my fellow expats. Never in my life have I met so many miserable and unhappy people in one place. It is like a magnet for moaners.
Before I came I was told that the best thing about this place was the energy of both a city that is changing so fast, and of a community of smart, healthy, optimistic expats from all corners of the world who are doing what they love in a country that’s treating them well. I’d say that is true of about 50% of people. Maybe less.
People really hate it here. They hate the weather. They hate the driving. They hate the rules. They hate the lack of rules. They hate the locals. They hate their jobs. They hate the people they meet.
And they’re not afraid to tell you about it.
When did it become ok to tell a complete stranger your opinion on every taboo topic under the desert sun? When did it become ok to reveal the worst parts of yourself within the first half hour of meeting someone?
Let me give you a peek into 24 hours of my life. Last Thursday afternoon, after leaving work at 4.30, I drove with The Coach to The Pearl, to a beautiful Mexican restaurant where we enjoyed happy hour drinks by the harbor with a group of people we had recently met. The next morning we woke to perfect blue skies and started the day with a refreshing swim in the pool near our house. We had the whole pool to ourselves. That day we Skyped with family and friends back home, ate a delicious lunch that cost US$6, had another swim and generally chilled out. That afternoon we popped round to a friend’s house for tea and were home in time to be picked up by a lovely driver who chauffeured us back to The Pearl for another night of outdoor cocktails, this time at a bar that was offering free sangria.
My (long-winded) point is that life is good here. Really good. There is very little to complain about. So why do people find so much to grumble about? I don’t know yet. But I do know that it’s awful and draining and a real shame.
Image from here