Ian Edelman in Doha

Expat exploits in Qatar

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Medical check up

On Wednesday I went for the mandatory medical check up which is the first step in getting a residency permit.

I queue up with a large number of Asians and a few Europeans waiting to be called for the blood test. I get a numbered ticket on arrival. My number is 1826.

The number on the board says 1782, however after a few minutes the security man queue-jumps me to the window where I am checked in.

The barcode on my form is scanned, my ID photo appears on the computer screen. The form is stamped and I head to the blood queue. I’m though in about 10 minutes. The form is stamped again and I go to get a chest x-ray.

The x-ray queue is much longer. Every ten minutes or so, 5 people go into the x-ray anteroom and we all shuffle five seats closer to the front of the line.

It takes about an hour before my turn comes. We take off our shirts in the anteroom and line up to be called in one by one. Another ID check, form stamped, 20 seconds in front of the x-ray machine and it’s all over.

On the journey back we stop at another clinic for blood typing… B Positive in case you are interested.

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Mistaken identity

Today I decided to look up someone I had corresponded with a few times by email. He is an English expat who was already working for my new employer. He’d given me lots of useful advice which helped me through the recruitment process. I had never met him in person.

I asked the reception staff where I could find John Bull… that’s his name… thirteenth floor I was told. I got the lift and went to his office. I asked the guy behind the desk if he was John Bull. He said was.

He wasn’t quite what I was expecting… slightly older and with a distinct foreign accent. I said who I was and reminded him that he’d been very helpful when he emailed me information plus a few other reasons why he should remember me. He looked slightly nonplussed but then nodded as if it was all coming back to him. We had a brief conversation, I said my goodbyes.

But something was definately wrong. So I double checked the office listings… he wasn’t John Bull, he was Jean Paul, hence the accent.I decided it was perhaps best to email him and admit the error, so at least he didn’t think he was losing his memory. Now I still have to find the real John Bull.

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Anyone for Tea

There are a number of large supermarkets in Doha.

One such chain of supermarkets is called Lulu. I think it’s so nice that they chose to name a shop after our own little Scottish singer. I have yet to visit a Lulu, but a couple of days ago I spent a while wandering the produce aisles of the French chain Carrefour in the Landmark Mall.

No alcohol of course, but there is little you’d be unfamiliar with on sale. Because of the large Asian population there are ranges of what in the UK would consider exotic fruits and vegetables, lots of products to suit Arabic tastes, but also most of the familiar brands from the UK.

One product which I have never seen in Sainsbury’s is ‘Flatulence Tea’. I am assuming it is to relieve the symptoms…I didn’t buy a packet, but if anyone is in need of relief from this afflication, please let me know and I will mail a packet to you straight away.

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Saturday morning walk

Doha is built around a series of bays. My hotel is in the older part of the city across the bay from the main business area known as West Bay.

I walked along the seawall which curves around this little part of the MIA Park which surrounds the museum. At the end of the park there is an opening air cafe. From here I took a panoramic 360 photo showing the park, the cafe, and the views across to West Bay.


On the move again

I will have had three hotel rooms today.

Since my arrival room 302 has been my home. It’s a corner room looking at a tower block from one window and up the street towards the art gallery from the other. Unfortunately the room was also above what must be an alarm bell which rang with enough frequency to be annoying. So when it rang at 5am this morning I decided it was time to request another quieter room.

So I was moved to room 409. I unpacked everything, hid the suitcases in the cupboard ready enjoy the peace and quiet. Unfortunately my new room was across from the mosque and the call to prayer was carried into my room by a loud speaker. As I am out most of the day anyway, I though that a couple of times in the early evening would not be a problem… however first call to prayer of the day is at 4pm so I am now sitting in 409 waiting to be moved again.

I should also have noticed the little packet of ear plugs on the bedside table.

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Today is my first day working for Qatar Museums Authority. The day began at 9am with the induction meeting.

There were three of us new starters…  an English woman who is managing eduction for the Museum of Islamic Art, me and a young Qatari woman who is starting her first job as a designer.

We had a Prezi slideshow presentation where the vision, structure, facilities, services, it systems and employee benefits were explained. Contracts and other documents were signed.

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Tomorrow will be when I actually begin working.