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!

Things You Just Don’t See In Qatar



Apart from the obvious, such as the colour green, lush rolling meadows, craggy mountains, lakes, woods and forests, here’s a collection of things we just don’t see here. The list is ongoing, so feel free to add to it.


1. Roadkill. Unless you count street kittens and that one flattened lizard out in the middle of the desert. Poor thing – what were the odds?!

2. Beggars (illegal).

3. Homeless people (illegal).

4. Recycle bins. Not one thing from our household waste is recycled. Not. One. Thing.

5. Drunken behaviour on the street (illegal). Ahem.*

6. Westerners walking on the pavements. It’s too hot and everything’s too far.

7. A peloton of cyclists, not even a small one. We’ll see maybe one, lone, crazy guy, once a week, with no helmet.

8. Motorbikes. Well… maybe one a month, and he (I’m yet to see a she) is usually just doing tricks in the traffic – standing on the seat or maybe just doing long distance wheelies.

9. Trains (in plan).

10. Phone booths and pay-phones.

11. Pregnant single mothers (illegal). Someone I know just had a very very quick marriage at the ‘religious city compound’ – and you know what? Babies tend to be born quite early in her family! Ahem.

12. Tattoo parlours (illegal).

13. People leafleting (illegal).

14. Fog lights. They use their hazzards instead.

15. Letterboxes. There’s no house-to-house postal service.

16. Same sex couples (illegal).

17. Unmarried co-habiting couples (illegal).

18. Overt public displays of affection (illegal). You don’t even see people holding hands that often. All sexual content is edited out of TV and films here.  I even noticed a Chandler and Monica kiss had been edited to look more like a peck.  

19. Boobs and bare naked flesh in general.  You become conditioned very quickly, so much so, that some of the MTV videos now look truly pornographic.

20. Percy Pigs in M&S.


* This obviously excludes the golf club, the rugby club, and a few of the licensed hotels as the assumption is that you’ll be driven there and back and no one sees you. You just hope your driver doesn’t crash on the way as not only have you been drinking, you’re probably wearing something ‘inappropriate’ too!