Ian Edelman in Doha

Expat exploits in Qatar


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When the real and virtual worlds collide

This morning we did our Friday shop at Monoprix. As I was buying bread, a woman asked me if I was Ian, which clearly I was. She introduced herself as Cynthia.

Cynthia is an avid reader of my blog and one of my early followers… she recognised me from pictures I have posted over the last four years.

cynthia

I should point out that Cynthia lives in Canada and is a regular visitor to Doha, staying with family who live here, and was not in Qatar specifically in the hope of seeing me.

It was really nice to meet her, however briefly, in person and know that people out there are actually reading and enjoying what I have written.

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All good things…

A couple of weeks ago, I handed in my letter of resignation to my employer. Over the coming couple of months, I will have to go through the byzantine bureaucratic processes that will allow my work contract to formally end, my visa and residency to be cancelled and permission to leave the country approved. Towards the end of June we will be boarding a Qatar Airways plane on a one-way ticket to London, and leaving Qatar for good.

In the meantime, we have started to sell the belongings that we won’t be bringing home… that is all the furniture and the car, and packing boxes with the things we are shipping back to the UK.

The exit has been planned for a while so we got a head start. Two beds, two wardrobes, a chest of drawers, 8-seater dining table and chairs, sideboard, coffee table and some small items have all be sold. The flat is looking very bare. You can see what’s left for sale on Qatar Living.

Selling furniture has been an interesting exercise. There are two types of buyer. The easiest is the expat who arrives at our apartment at the appointed time, looks at the item, says yes I’ll take it (or occasionally no), and pays exactly what I asked.

The other type of buyer sees the listed price as the starting point for negotiation, often by WhatsApp or SMS. Once the sale is agreed, they invariably arrive at our apartment a minimum of an hour after the agreed time.

The conversation (all actually happened) goes like this…

How much is the wardrobe?
Me: It’s 500QR
What’s your last price?
Me: My last price is 400QR. Please don’t ask for less as I will say no.
I can give you 300QR

What is the last price for your car?
Me: I have it listed for 48999QR but I will sell it for 46000QR
I will give you 44000QR
Me: No, I said 46000QR
But it’s only 2000QR
Me: Yes but it’s my 2000QR

If have been asked for heavy discounts because
it’s a present for my son‘.
Me: But it’s not my present to your son, so pay the full price.

How much is the bed?
Me: 700QR
What is your last price?
Me: 500QR
But I will have to pay 200QR to have it transported to Al Khor (a town outside Doha), so can I have it for 300QR.
Me: No, I will sell it someone in Doha for 500 who doesn’t have to pay the transport costs.

I sold the car for 46000 which was what I wanted. With the change in exchange rate between the Riyal and the Pound over three years and three months that I owned the car, means that the total cost of ownership was only £3400. A rental car for the same period would have cost £18500.

The buyer paid for the car to be examined at one of the testing stations on the Salwa Road. They pointed out the paint job on the doors, but as I had already told the prospective buyer there were no surprises.

He paid in cash with a block of 500QR notes. Using the Metrash 2 app, we transferred ownership at our soon to be sold coffee table. It was as simple as that.

So we still have a few things to sell, some of which, such as the bed, fridge and washing machine that we’ll need to keep until the day before we leave. So why not make me an offer!


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Removing the bumps

Yesterday I took my car to get the two driver side doors fixed. For the last three years I paid an additional insurance premium so that any repairs would be carried out by the main dealer. This year I decided not to pay the extra 750QR, which means I have a repairer allocated by the insurance company.

I headed off to the Village Car repairers located at Street 11 Gate 44 in the Industrial Area. This is one of my least favourite places in Doha. Being based on a grid layout ought to make it easy to find your way around, but it doesn’t work that way. The roads are narrow, often lined with trucks and cars. Many are still unpaved with huge, deep potholes.

I managed to find Village Car repairers.village1
The area outside is littered with some very broken cars. Inside was little different except they were in various stages of repair. There were an awful lot of damaged taxis.

village2
I asked when it would be ready. “Wednesday”. “But I need it on Monday as I will be out of the country from Tuesday”. “Can you do it by Monday?” I asked. They said they would try, but I don’t expect to see it again until we return to Qatar in February.


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A little bump on the road

I managed just three years and four accident-free months on the roads of Doha. But last week, on the way home from work, a large old 4×4 (not a Landcruiser I should say) clipped the drivers side doors while we were both on the Al Rumailah roundabout. I ought to point out that I was not at fault – I have a witness who will support this assertion!

In circumstances like this, both cars are legally obliged to stop, however the other driver decided to rapidly speed off. We didn’t get his number, or more precisely we sort of had a set of numbers but they might not necessarily have been in the correct order or perhaps even the right numbers as it all happened so fast. Unfortunately the first time my car-cam was required, the number plate in the video is unclear. Watch for the bump!

We reported the accident by phone straight away. I was told to go to the Traffic Department at Madinat Al Khalifa. It’s the building next to the one where you register your car.

I picked my number 392. A guy came up to me and gave me his ticket 390 as he couldn’t wait any longer. The screen showed they were up to 384 so not too long to wait. As I waited and watched as drivers went to the counter and completed the process, I noticed that the police officer would occasionally accompany the driver out of the office. I asked what was happening, and apparently they need to see the damage to the vehicle. My car was not parked closeby, as I had thought I was going to the main traffic building. So I rushed off to move the car to the car park outside the building. When I got back ticket number 393 had been called, so I picked a new number – 409.

bump1
My turn came around, and I explained the details of the incident to the traffic officer.
bump2
As I could not identify the other vehicle, I was told to come back the following morning to see if the accident had been reported by anyone else.

So this morning I went off again, this time parking in the correct car park. No numbers needed this time, and in a couple of minutes I saw a different officer. I explained the collision and showed him the video. He watched the short clip of the accident, and identified the car as a Chevrolet.

He asked where the car was. I told him it was outside the building in the car park. “Please get a photo of the damage”, he said. Below you can see the same image I showed him.

bump3

Not a huge amount of damage, but nonetheless annoying and inconvenient.

He gave me a document and said that I should return in one week, during which time they will see if they can identify the other car… very unlikely, but then, hopefully I will have the correct form to take to my insurer to authorise the repairs.

So back seven days later and I was given the documents for my insurance company. The papers are in Arabic so I have no idea what they say. I went to the insurance company, who filled in more paperwork, made copies of my ID, driving licence and car registration, photographed the damage and gave me the documents for the car repairer. I will only have to pay the 20% excess.

So on Wednesday, I will head off to the Industrial Area to book the car in to have the dents removed and the doors resprayed… and that will be another story for you.

 

 

 


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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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Punctury 

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.

punctury

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.