Tips for new arrivals in Qatar

Published:  30 May at 6 PM
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In the minds of a good many expats who’ve recently relocated to Qatar, the culture is about as foreign as it can possibly get.

It’s possible that adjusting to a Gulf State relocation is one of the biggest challenges of international expat life, but the experience doesn’t have to be a nightmare and unfamiliarity doesn’t have to be a threat. One key to unlocking the secrets of this fascinating region is to expect the unexpected and stay open-minded rather than sticking to a preconceived plan. In reality, life in Qatar can be amazingly spontaneous, even although everything seems so different from life back in the home country.

English is a widely-used language in Qatar, but Arabic is the official language and untold numbers of brownie points are given to expats who at least attempt to speak this difficult tongue. Language exchange groups are popular and begin with the basics, and for more focused learning there are programmes offered in Education City as well as at the Sheikh Abdulla bin Zaid al Mahmoud Ilmaic Cultural Center. If simply looking at the Arabic script gives you the horrors, concentrating on speaking and understanding Arabic is perfectly acceptable.

Living in Qatar is an adventure, with trying just about everything at least once the best way to enjoy the ride. There’s a great deal you can do, including getting to know and love the emirate’s distinctive cuisine in a local souk. Walking the sand dunes close by Sea Line is good exercise as well as a unique experience and volunteering to walk the rescued dogs at their Shamal Road farm has its rewards in doggy love. The Museum of Islamic Art is fascinating, and a classical music concert held by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra is an unforgettable experience.

To truly understand the culture of these unique desert states, you’ll need to befriend a Qatari and walk for a while in his shoes. Connecting with locals on social media is the way forward, and asking questions, starting conversations and being genuinely curious about Qatar’s culture, history and lifestyle will open your mind as well as hopefully improving your Arabic conversational skills.
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