It’s a well known fact that 90% of us here in Qatar are expatriates. Here are my 8 types of expat I’ve encountered in my short time here. What kind of expat are you? Do you know any of these people? Tell me if I’ve missed some glaringly obvious examples and most importantly, I hope no one takes offence. This is only meant in jest and I happily admit I could fall into many of these categories myself!
The Flash Gordons
You know the ones. They drive around in that fancy new 4 wheel drive bought with a freshly minted bank loan, parking in the underground garage in their luxury Pearl/West Bay apartment and dressed in designer gear that costs more than your monthly rent from head to toe. Doha is their Beverly Hills. A chance to dress to the nines and cavort around town like the rock stars they’ve always dreamed of. No one would ever have known they lived in an ex council flat in Bradford.
Where to find them? Washing their face with Bollinger and Caviar infused soap in a gold plated bathroom somewhere in the Pearl.
The Souq Wa-cheaps
From one extreme to the other. These folk have come to Doha for one reason only. To save as much as they can, as fast as they can. All other concerns are secondary to them. To them, brunch is last night’s leftovers and only because they woke up too late for breakfast. They become physically ill if they are within a 500 metre radius of a Megamart, Monoprix or Spinney’s. Will walk great distances to avoid bartering with a Karwa driver. If you invite them out to anything, they’ll tell you they’re working late, need to tidy up their apartment or have been to that place before and see no need to go again. Or they may not contact you back at all as they won’t have any credit on their phone. If you do manage to persuade them to join you, they conveniently disappear just before the bill arrives. Their main source of entertainment in Doha is the joy and contentment of having another crisp 100 riyal note in their collection that they can hold onto just a little bit longer.
Where to find them? At home bragging about how much they’ve saved converting their farts into gas for the stove while watching a film from a free streaming website on their 10 inch laptop screen that they bought 8 years ago.
The Big Brunchers
The big brunchers see employment as a means of funding 18 course meals and liquid refreshment for 2 days a week. Stick thin when they first came to Doha, they now resemble pink faced beached whales sporting a Hawaiian shirt. Studies on regular brunchers found their chemical composition was around 75% Stella Artois, 15% Beef Bacon, 9% Crème Brulee and 0.02% Water.
Where to find them? Screaming raucous obscenities at a Doha hotel somewhere near you. Falling off their chair or stumbling out of an elevator in said hotel or passed out in the toilet round the corner.
The Culture Vultures
Have made it their mission to come here to uncover the chapters of Qatar’s history and immerse themselves in the lives of the locals. Having realized that the chapters are rather short and local people are rather hard to find, they will expand their criteria to include anyone ‘arab looking’. They will insist on correcting you if you don’t refer to the country as ‘Cutrrr’ or the neighbouring island of ‘Backrain’. They have attempted at least 3 Arabic courses and can now confidently say ‘hummus’ and ‘tabouleh’ in an Egyptian accent.
Where to find them? Ordering a plate of ‘slow cooked horse testicle’ from a Lebanese restaurant in broken Arabic while a bemused waiter is patiently listening.
The Oily/Gassy People
If you don’t work in the industry, they will usually tell you about a job you don’t understand with lots of big words and long acronyms. Will often talk about other companies you’ve never heard of and rumours of their impending doom.
Where to find them? Commuting in a 3 minute walk from their apartment to their office or the local petrol station, taking in the aromas of some premium unleaded after setting fire to a tree and a bin bag full of plastic.
Whatever the problem is, they claim they know someone in Doha who can fix it. However long it took you to process some papers, it took them half the time because they had a ‘fixer’ to ease the process. You’ll hear all about their dinner last night because the guests were ‘seriously high up’ and ‘big players over here’. At some point in any of their stories, there will be reference to a Sheikh or a head of a government ministry that you have never heard of and potentially may not exist.
Although you didn’t ask for their initial story, when you ask for more details out of politeness, you won’t get them because the Wasta-farian is sworn to secrecy never to divulge this information.
Where to find them? They would have you believe they spend their evenings in the company of the well-connected in Doha, although the reality is probably less sheikhs and more Shake Shack.
The unemployed bums/spouses
Will often be full of glowing praise for life in Doha and how wonderful it is over here. Feel a need to do something meaningful with their time between manicure appointments so will volunteer to initiatives like raising awareness of oryxes who suffer from amnesia or shelters for vegan pigeons.
Will react angrily to suggestions that they are living a life of leisure at their husband (or wife’s) expense and will be quick to remind you of their homemaking duties and their hectic schedule of delegating duties to their maid and driver.
Where to find them? During the day you probably won’t because YOU’LL be at work. If you had the day off you’d find them lounging by the pool soaking up the Doha sun.
The annoying parent and accompanying child
This mum or dad believes in a liberal approach to managing a child’s behavior in a public place. They actively encourage their child to run as fast as they can around people who carry hot plates of food and wish to channel their child’s inner animal spirits by allowing them to clamber onto tables full of sharp cutlery like monkeys. The parents feel no need to listen to music anymore as the sound of their small child screaming at 110 decibels is a beautiful melody to their ears.
Where to find them? You will hear them before you see them, often sitting directly next to you, minutes after you’ve taken your own table/seat on the plane/seat at the cinema.