Hot Enough To Fry An Egg



Sheikha Al Mayassa, reported to be the most powerful person in the art world, is (a) the sister of the emir of Qatar, (b) the chairperson for the Qatar Museum Authority, (c) has access to a LOT of money and (d) appears to have pretty good taste. She commissioned Richard Serra to create a dramatic sculpture in the middle of the Qatari desert. So he did; he developed East-West/West-East.

Using a drone, Alex Klim has made a beautiful short film called A Glimpse Of The Desert capturing East-West/West-East beautifully. You must watch it!

It shows the four 50ft steel sculptures which were craned in and planted in our ‘countryside’. They are truly stunning with the tallest being 16.7m to sit level with the gypsum plateaus either side. And at this time of year they are hot to touch! Scrambled eggs were cooked on them this spring, so if you’re planning a visit… pop to the shops first and then go fry yourself an egg in the desert!

GPS location for anyone local: N250 31.019’E050051.948′

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Niqabs, Thobes And Henna Fingers

All in-flight safety videos are not the same! The local versions really make me giggle – I’ve particularly enjoyed the different cultural references as the video production teams have had fun with different cultural characteristics of their passengers; hair styles, make up, clothing, body shape, even henna. Goodness only knows what they’d come up with if they created one in the UK to reflect British passengers.

My favourite has been Fly Dubai’s – here are some highlights from both theirs and Gulf Airways.

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 Here’s the Fly Dubai video – excuse the background noise (not our child I hasten to add).

Girls To The Left, Boys To The Right



It’s our ‘holiday vaccination day’ at a local medical centre. We enter the building through two separate entrances; one male, one female, only to be joined together again at one big reception desk the other side. Our family is separated by gender, at first by nightclub-rope, and then by a glass wall partition in the waiting area. Nearly a year in, and I still find this separation of genders odd.

We had tried and failed the day before to get vaccinations so we came back, this time more prepared – arriving 20 minutes ahead of opening time. We waited outside at our corresponding entrances, already 38 degrees at 8.40am.

It’s at times like these I respect our lifelong British training in how to queue. You see, not everyone receives that same training, so despite being first at the door, I find someone’s buggy wheel jammed in front of one foot and a sharp elbow at my waist on the other side, both vying for first place. It appears we all receive different personal space training too.

The men’s door is opened first, my husband gets the first ticket, we get the third. We are allowed to be seen as a family to assess what vaccinations we will need for a forthcoming trip. When it’s time for the actual injections…. it’s back to different gender areas we go.

The girl’s room to the left, the boy’s to the right. It seems I get the easier option as I have just one apprehensive child to calm. Twenty minutes later, we are all done and I reach for my credit card, between us we have received 15 vaccinations and five boxes of malaria tablets.

The balance is zero. It is free. And we… are free to go.

So, serious question, who just paid for that? We received 20 items, interacted with seven members of staff and occupied about an hour of their time – and we were only ticket number one. The waiting room is bustling with people, none of whom have paid a single penny in income tax. So who just paid for that?

Looking back, the state have received monies from us in the form of immigration visas, resident permits, driving licences, a few speeding fines – but overall, all small admin fees and nothing really significant. Not the kind of funds that would keep multiple medical centres in operation. I continue to be baffled, just how that works. There are now over 2 million non tax paying people living here, not all will have medical insurance, but many will need medical care.

So who pays? Answers on a postcard please.


Everybody’s looking for that something



Are you Christian?” I’ve been asked this more times since moving to Qatar than ever before. Interestingly, I don’t recall being asked “What religion are you?” or “Do you believe in God?”.

My children’s friends have asked me, our cleaner has asked me, her sister has asked me, the compound’s gardener has asked me, even the IKEA delivery man has asked me.

Is it a noun? Or an adjective? Another google search I never thought I’d do. Our son, L, recently asked, “Was he a Christian?” (adj) about a driver who caused a car crash at school. I was a little surprised by this question, but I now understand he was referring to his appearance and wanted to know whether or not he was wearing a thobe. He now knows you can indeed be muslim and not wear a thobe – I’d clearly missed that part in his education!

However, my absolute favourite of these encounters was with one of the IKEA delivery men. After offering the team a drink, I was asked if I was Christian. The truth… “It’s complicated. Let’s discuss dinosaurs, the evolution of man and the big bang theory…” was not what was needed right at that moment, so for ease, I went with a simple “Yes”. He put his drink down and started singing. And I mean full-on-singing. From his lungs. His arms out wide.

His song of choice? Flying without wings. So in less than a month of landing in the Middle East, I found myself in my lounge, holding a plate of custard creams, confused at myself for answering yes… and Westlife had entered the building.



Photo: taken at Conrad Rangali beach, Maldives

Family Life in Qatar



We’ve nearly completed one academic year and it’s clear this is the time of year for many to move on. Furniture is being sold, gift collections are being passed around, last nights out have been booked, plants are being re-homed, animals are being shipped and cars are being polished to sell.

Qatar can be a tricky place to live as an expat, however it can also offer the most fantastic family experience, ripe with adventure and opportunity. Here are some of the things we love about living in Qatar:

  1. The feeling of sunshine on your face, everyday.
  2. Cloudless blue skies.
  3. A newfound appreciation for things we simply took for granted. My current favourites are green grass and big old trees. Actually any green vegetation. Oh, and Autumn.
  4. Seeing camels. Camels are just comedy.
  5. Seeing palm trees. For me, they will always be reminiscent of summer holidays.
  6. The sea and knowing you can dip your toes in it everyday if you wanted – and knowing it will be warm.
  7. Stunning sand dunes are your new landscape – plus you’ll experience the exhilaration of driving down them in a 4×4.
  8. Camping in the desert and learning that a shovel, 10 litres of water and tyre traction pads will become your new best friends.
  9. The freedom of the ‘compound kid’. Seeing our children playing out with friends, on bikes, in the playground, at each other’s houses. Children knock for each other all the time here. No doors are locked behind them. No texts are exchanged. No diaries are checked. No numbers are given. No pickup arrangements are made. They just go out and play… until they need to come in for dinner. Those who can tell the time may have a watch, some will have a phone, while some will simply use the evening call to prayer or the powering up of street lights as their indicator to make their way home. It’s a simple life.
  10. Seeing our children grow in a multi-cultural environment.  On average there are 11 nationalities in each of our children’s classes.
  11. The speed in which friendships are made.
  12. Sitting by the pool with friends, a glass of wine in hand and an occasional quick dip.
  13. Fridays always feel like you’re on a skive as Thursday night marks the end of the week.
  14. Being part of a neighbourhood community, where people say hello and often know your name.
  15. Going swimming without getting in a car or packing a change of clothes.
  16. Access to sports. Our children’s school sports day was held in one of the leading sports arenas. They have learnt to sail, play tennis, football, gymnastics and of course swim.
  17. Staff! There’s always someone willing to fill your petrol tank, your shopping bags, your car, your washing machine.
  18. Throwback radio stations – being reminded of some pure classic tunes each day. (Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of dross too, but this is a positive list!)
  19. The warmth of the sun on my left arm in the car, while my right is almost frozen by the air conditioning.
  20. The need to wear sunglasses every day – it’s not even an option. The quickest, easiest way to hide your 5.30am eye-bags.
  21. Dry air and no drizzle sees the end to frizzy hair.
  22. Access to a new list of travel destinations, all within a two hour plane ride.
  23. Languages. Our children study French and Arabic as part of their national curriculum.
  24. Watching our children’s confidence grow with all of these new life experiences.
  25. Easy access to some top rated restaurants.
  26. Cheap petrol.
  27. Cheap energy bills.
  28. Free parking (99.9% of the time).
  29. Cheap or free arts and culture.
  30. No tax. Of course. No tax!