Ian Edelman in Doha

Expat exploits in Qatar

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Foggy day driving

The early morning fog in Doha has again reduced visibility in some places down to around 30 metres. Whilst not all drivers appear to be slowing down or even turning on headlights, the common practice appears to be driving with hazard flashers turned on. I must look, but I am not even sure my car has a rear fog light. Either way fog lights are not being used.  I don’t know whether hazard lights are a legal requirement or just personal safety preference, however the practice does make cars in front much more visible, though rear fog lights would be even more effective.

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There are bunch of small tyre shops at the far end of the Salwa Road on the right side just before you get to the Industrial Area. They are called ‘Punctury’, that is a place to get a puncture fixed.


It’s an entirely new word to me. It sounds like it could have come from Indian English, although I don’t recall ever seeing the word in India. But its in common use here, and has a certain literal inventiveness.

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Shorter queues

I have no scientific evidence to support this theory, however here goes. There are more cars in Doha with the filler cap on the left (drivers side) than on the right side (passenger side) of the car.

My car has the petrol filler cap on the right side. Although I have the inconvenience of leaning across to pay the attendant, the longest queues are most often to the lines where the filler cap is on the drivers side of the car. Check this out for your self when you’re driving by.


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My car is just about to reach its third birthday. This means that it is due for the Qatari equivalent of the MOT test. But let’s roll back a week as at the same time the car needs to be re-registered and the insurance renewed.

I renewed the policy online, paying by credit card… very quick and straightforward. I received an email almost immediately, confirming the renewal with two attachments – the receipt and the policy document. However the policy document had spelled my name wrong. In place of a D in my last name was a P. I don’t know how this happened, but definitely not my typo as D and P are way apart on the keyboard.

Either way I needed to get it replaced, the car re-registered and tested, which meant a day off today, and a trip to the Beema offices which is what I had tried to avoid by renewing online. They issued a corrected certificate which I took to the Traffic Department to register the vehicle for another year. I’ve written about registration in an earlier post. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.

Then on to the Fahes Testing Station. There are two in the Industrial Area, but I hate the chaos of the place so I decided to drive to the testing station in Al Wakra instead. Although it’s further away, I hoped the journey would be quicker and easier than getting to the Industrial Area, and possibly quicker to get seen.

Google maps managed to misdirect several kilometres too far, in fact passing by the Fahes site. I turned round and drove some way towards Doha before I could U-turn back. If you intend to go the testing station, it’s currently a right turn at the  first Al Wakra roundabout, then a sharp right through the Woqod Petrol Station to the Testing Station behind.

I drove up to the kiosk, gave in my registration, paid 75QR and joined a short line of cars. There were 4 lines of cars moving slowly through the building.


The process was very efficient. I stayed in the car, moving to the passenger seat while the technician moved the car forward for each phase of testing. This included, exhaust gases, lights, brakes on a rolling road, and finally a visual inspection from a pit under the car. The results of each test were displayed on screen.


It was all over in 215 minutes. I passed, or at least the car did, and got a text to confirm it.



On the way out the guy in exit booth told me I had to go into the office with my registration and insurance. I parked and went in.

“What have you come for?” I was asked.
I told him and showed my shiny new registration card.
“You’ve got registration” he said, “Why do you come here?”
“Because the man in the booth told me to”

He said I could leave, which I did. I think you can also complete you registration at the same time, which would have been helpful to know.



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Best to check first

We went out for lunch today. It was a long time since we’d been to the St Regis so we decided to go for their Saturday buffet. Less choice than a Friday brunch, and much cheaper, but also less inclination to over indulge.

We decide not to book as there were plenty of free tables on every previous visit. I checked the website to make sure the Vine Restaurant was open and the buffet was happening. It was.



We were all set to enjoy “An extensive selection of international cuisine and a scenic terrace to dine on”. So we headed over, valet parked the car and into the restaurant, only to be told it wasn’t available. After three years in Qatar, I really shouldn’t have been surprised. Websites in Qatar are generally reliably inaccurate. I should have phoned to check.

Instead we ate at La Spiga in the W, which in my view is the best hotel restaurant in the city. Their ‘express’ lunch menu is extremely good value, available on Saturdays unlike most other places, and there is no sense of being hurried.

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Air Conditioning Part 2

The aircon in the car is now fixed. It took 3 days and now the car is cool again. Apparently the old compressor had been running at less than full capacity. In addition the technician reported that the heater unit was broken. Just like direction indicators, car heaters get little use in Qatar so I cannot guess why it was also defective. The bill came to 6,925QR, which thankfully I did not have to pay.

It took 4 days to get the air conditioning in our bedroom fixed. I am not an electrician, but that the thermostat frequentlty flashed 0°C and wouldn’t turn off suggested to me there was something wrong. There is a tendency here to try and repair faulty equipment. This is a laudable and green thing to do, however in my experience a replacement is a quicker and better alternative. The electrician dismantled it, while his assistant watched. He brushed out the electrical board and re-assembled. He went away. That evening the unit failed again and so the fan came out to try and keep us cool that night.

The electrician, along with the silent assistant came back the next day. We agreed that the thermostat needed to be replaced. We got them to swap the broken bedroom unit for the one in the living room to ensure that we got a good night’s sleep.

He returned the following day with the replacement, which he installed. It didn’t work. He called a colleague who came to check the wiring was correct. So now we have two electricians and one silent assistant. The two electricians agreed that the new unit was faulty and disappeared off to find a replacement. The silent assistant appeared not to have an opinion.

They returned 15 minutes later with a new thermostat, which they fixed. The air conditioning came on. The room began to cool, yet the temperature on the digital readout remained stubbornly at 26°C.

We called them back the following day to check why the temperature showing on the screen appeared not to change despite the room being appreciably cooler. The doorbell rang and we had the two electricians, the silent assistant and the electrician’s supervisor. They checked the room temperature and the air coming from the air conditioning vents. It was all OK. We should leave the air conditioning on all the following day and see what happened. When we returned from work, the readout had dropped to 22.5 C. Everything was good.

One of the differences with home rentals here and in the UK is that, although we did not have to pay for the labour, we had to pay 650QR for the replacement of the thermostat.

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Room with a view

The view from our bedroom looks down across the C Ring Road to the Corniche and beyond to West Bay. You can see exactly what I see in the photo at the top of the page.

When we moved in we expected to see a building gradually appear centre-right. The footings were there, and the beginnings of uprights to support the structure. In the middle of the site stood an orange crane. On windy days the crane swung round in line with the wind direction. We hoped the building would not be tall and obscure our view.
Three years later nothing has been built. Recently the crane disappeared. I’m not sure exactly when. It must have been a sizeable task to dismantle. One day I looked out and our crane was gone. I’m guessing that our view is now safe for the time being.