Ian Edelman in Doha

Expat exploits in Qatar


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Online fraud

This morning I woke up to an email telling me that my QNB Mastercard had been cancelled. My initial thought was that it was one of a series of regular spam emails I receive from banks where I have no accounts. I checked for the ‘click here to logon’ link, where my username and password would be stolen, but there was none.

My phone also had two SMS messages about small transactions made in the middle of the night. One for 6.9 Euro to Xing Events, the other, half an hour later was made at the Ramada Plaza for $4.33. The latter had been declined as a suspicious transaction.

The first thing I did was to phone QNB to find out what was going on. I had assumed that Ramada Plaza transaction had taken place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Doha, as it was formerly named Ramada Plaza… the crossroads near the hotel is still called Ramada Junction even though the hotel changed names a few years ago, but it was the Ramada Plaza in New York. The fraudster will, apparently, first attempt to use the card for small transactions. If these work, the next will be a major purchase.

I was told that both payments would be refunded but that I would need to get a new card from one of the two local card centres. The nearest, at the Qatar Sports Club, was only a 15 minute drive. I arrived there, filled in two forms and five minutes later I had a new credit card. I am impressed by the efficiency of QNB in catching the fraud at an early stage and getting the card replaced so quickly.

I have no idea where my card details were compromised, however I have moved from a Titanium card to a Platinum card which I will interpret as an increase in status.

 

 


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End of the Summer

There are clear signs that the hot summer is ending and cooler times beginning. The air from the air-con vents in my car is now cold. When outside air temperatures are in the high 40s, the cooling system can do little more than make the air inside less hot than outside, cooling the car enough to keep the windows closed, but not sufficiently to feel comfortable.

Walkers on the Corniche

Walkers on the Corniche are another sign of Autumn. This morning we took our first walk since May, along with a whole bunch of other Qatar residents who have also come out to enjoy the more temperate weather.

Dawn

At 5.30am the temperature was in the mid 30s. There was a light breeze. It was not too hot for an hour and quarter walk from the Emiri Diwan round to West Bay and back, and although as the sun rose it warmed up, we enjoyed the walk and the much needed exercise.

Fishermen

Hopefully our weekend routine will now be back to the early morning walks. It will also be cool enough in the evening to eat outdoors again.


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Back to the old phone

Yesterday I received an international shipment which included my new iPhone 6. I turned it on and left it to download all my apps and settings from the cloud. By late morning it was up and running.

I thought I would be one of the first people in Doha to have this new technological wonder, but the newspapers report that several of the local hypermarkets already have iPhones selling at inflated prices.  The two local network operators are due to begin selling iPhone 6 on 27 September, so you have to be really keen to be the first one in your street to own one if you are prepared to pay 2000QR (£336) over the odds.

Last night I upgraded the operating software to 8.0.1 as suggested by Apple. This morning my phone has the ‘no service’ message.

no service message

The international news if full of reports that my problem affects everyone with an iPhone 6 who updated the software. So until they release a fix, I will have to use the old one and J will have to wait for the ‘hand-me-down’ iPhone 5.

Update

My phone is now fixed after having to download the older software and reload apps etc all over again.

 


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First world problems

As I leave our apartment in the morning for work, I pass by a number of construction sites where the workers are already busy. The temperature at 7am is around 40C, rising to 45C as the day moves on.

Whilst I leave our air-conditioned flat, and drive in my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned office, on more than a few occasions I embarrass myself by moaning about things that are only experienced by the more privileged residents of Doha. It maybe that one of our favourite restaurants changed the menu, the car cleaners left a smudge on the windscreen, the supermarket is out of Kalamata olives, the valet parking is taking too long to return our car.

Each time I have to remind myself of how well we live in this country as compared to the large number of construction, manual and domestic workers, and I must not whinge anymore.

 

 

 

 

 


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Doha Dozen

It seems like only a few months ago that I wrote that I had been in Doha for one year… now two years have passed.

Looking back over some of the posts I have written since moving here, I realise that I’ve avoided talking about food or eating out in Doha. There are plenty of people who write about their meals, recorded with a photo of each course and comments on the quality/ambiance etc of the restaurant.

We’ve eaten at a range of places, including various Friday brunches at the 5-star hotels to home delivery from the various local ethnic and chain restaurants. At the top end, it is very expensive. Take-out and home delivery is reasonably priced and saves on the effort of home cooking.

What I believe offers the very best value are the ‘Business’ or ‘Express’ lunches. For the most part a three course meal at some of the best restaurants will cost less than 100QR (£17 or $27). I can recommend La Spiga where we are today, or Market, both at the W, as probably having the best food, and unlike may of the other establishments, the Express lunch is also available on Saturday.

If I’d remembered to take photos of the food before I started eating, you could see each of the three courses, however here is the menu. Although they call it express, our lunch took around an hour and a quarter… it was neither rushed nor did we have to wait too long between courses.

I am now twenty-four months older than when I arrived and a few kilos heavier. The additional age is unavoidable, but the extra weight is down to the availability of restaurants in the city… the ‘Doha Dozen’ is a phrase referring to the pounds/kilos that most expats gain in Qatar.