Ian Edelman in Doha

Expat exploits in Qatar


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Training in India

A week ago I was in Goa in India on a short IT training course. My last visit to Goa was nearly 20 years ago.

It’s only a three hour plane flight from Doha to the west coast of India, though the daily Qatar airways flights are inconveniently scheduled to arrive in Goa at 3am and depart back to Doha at 4am.

The price of IT training is substantially lower than in the west, despite adding the costs of flights. Indian IT expertise is very high. I was with people who had travelled from the USA, UK and other bits of Europe for the various IT courses available.

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The training centre is on the top of a somewhat ramshackle building with small training rooms squashed into all available space. The journey up stairs to the centre was not inspiring.

Take a trip up the stairway with me

I spent three days in small air-conditioned training room. I learned a lot. The training was excellent. I also had a day or so either side of the training to be a tourist.

Goa has changed in the last 20 years since our last visit. From a few tourist flights a week and unspoiled villages and beaches, it is now a major winter sun destination attracting hoards of British and more recently Russian tourists.

Baga Beach where we stayed all those years ago has changed from a sleepy village with a few shops and restaurants and a handful of hotels all surrounded by fields, to a crowded, bustling and not too pleasant place. Sometimes it is best not to go back.

Our previous winter holidays were to escape the cold of the UK. As we get sun all year round in Doha, the weather in a vacation destination is now of far less significance. Nonetheless it was good to get out of Doha for a week after seven months in the city.


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Conspicuous wealth

An article in the local media reminded me that Qatar has the highest per capita GDP in the world… which simply put means it has more of the richest people in the world.

McLaren

The same day that I read the report, I saw a McLaren parked outside on of the shopping malls. I know this supercar would set you back a small fortune.

Qatar has vast numbers of poorly paid manual workers earning between £150 and £190 per month. The reality of this wealth statistic is put into a clearer perspective when you understand that GDP is an averaged figure.


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Washes blacker

Qatari women wear the Abaya, a black, long, loose robe-like over-garment. Three of my work colleagues wear it. In addition they wrap a long black headscarf around their heads and over the shoulder. It’s the traditional attire of most Qatari women.

The black material is often subtly patterned or had added embroidery to embellish what is essentially monochrome. They look extremely elegant, but underneath they wear jeans, leggings and blouses.

Washing detergent

Whereas most detergents claim to wash whiter, the supermarket shelves include this product intended to keep black, black.


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Down the chute

We live on the 10th floor. In the basement of the building are a number of small rubbish skips which sit beneath a rubbish chute.

The rubbish chute starts in a small room along the corridor on our floor, through each of the other 9 floors and deposits our rubbish into the skip.

Rubbish chute

The door of the chute has a light, which is occasionally red. I have no idea what this means, but I avoid placing anything in the chute when it is on.

At other times I throw our rubbish, carefully sealed in small carrier bags, down the chute  It is a small and childish pleasure, but I do enjoy listening to the bag as it bumps the sides of the chute down all 10 floors.


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Charity box

Once every so often the Portsmouth News would run a short story about ‘heartless thieves’ who had stolen charity boxes. These boxes were easy pickings, but probably not very lucrative.

We shop at Carrefour every Friday morning at 8am. The underground car park and the entire shopping mall are almost deserted except for supermarket staff and the early risers like us.

Charity stand

In the lobby where you leave the car park and enter the mall are the lifts, there are a couple of small kiosks, one cutting keys and the other selling balloons. There are also two charity desks…. nobody is manning the desks.

Charity box

On the desk for the Qatar Society for Rehabilitation of Special Needs is a perspex box containing banknotes. The box is there when we arrive and 45 minutes later it is still there.