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Life in Qatar
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jiyu



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

millie18 wrote:
I've never been jumped in the queue at the traffic department anywhere in the GCC in 13 years (7 here in Qatar) but I am female, which plays a huge role in any social interaction in the GCC.



Thanks for the responses, everyone.

Millie18 can you please elaborate on your comment above? This is exactly what I'm trying to understand: how does being female affect social interactions in Qatar?

Have you found that religion is pervasive in the region, and does it affect your teaching? For example, are there topics we're not permitted to discuss with students and are students very religion-oriented? (I've seen this in the South Pacific islands - the legacy of decades of missionary work).
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16125
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jiyu wrote:
Millie18 can you please elaborate on your comment above? This is exactly what I'm trying to understand: how does being female affect social interactions in Qatar?

In much of the Gulf women go immediately to the front of a line. Post office, paying electric or phone bill... I think that it is so that we are done and leave quickly. Basically, it is not culturally appropriate for you to be standing around with unrelated males. There are places that have women only lines.

jiyu wrote:
Have you found that religion is pervasive in the region, and does it affect your teaching? For example, are there topics we're not permitted to discuss with students and are students very religion-oriented? (I've seen this in the South Pacific islands - the legacy of decades of missionary work).

Yes and yes. One avoids anything that has to do with religion if possible.

For instance, in my first year or so, I had a group that was coming directly from their required "Comparative Religion" class... and I was their captive "Christian." (I'm actually not, but that is a detail that I never brought up) They seemed to show up with daily questions for me. I would answer in a short, politically correct way... usually ask them what they had learned in their class... refer them back to their religion teacher for further discussion... and tell them to open their books to page whatever. If my US/UK textbook had a chapter on religion, I always skipped it. There are major minefields in this area.

The religion is pervasive as it is a state religion and the local religious authorities are referred to and have power over laws. Everything happens "insha'Allah" (if God is willing) and the results are "ilhamdulillah" (thanks to God). You will hear these two phrases all day, every day, from everyone. Soon you are doing it too. Cool They find it incomprehensible that someone is not "religious."

VS
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4855
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

millie18 wrote:
I've never been jumped in the queue at the traffic department anywhere in the GCC in 13 years (7 here in Qatar) but I am female, which plays a huge role in any social interaction in the GCC.

That reminds me of my experience in Syria; women were expected to go ahead of the men standing in line---to be served before them. Also, I once was with a Syrian female friend waiting for a minibus to pass by. One pulled over but it was full. My friend told two men to get off, and sure enough they did without hesitation and we took their seats. But again that was Syria not Qatar and certainly not the case in conservative Saudi Arabia with its separate facilities for women.

jiyu wrote:
Have you found that religion is pervasive in the region, and does it affect your teaching? For example, are there topics we're not permitted to discuss with students and are students very religion-oriented?

Cultural awareness is the name of the game, but frankly, you adjust your teaching style to each situation anyway. Your university will provide you with guidelines on what's not culturally appropriate for classroom discussion relevant to their insitution and the course being taught as well as what to do to avoid such topics. If they don't, then you definitely need to ask. But generally in the Gulf, topics like politics, personal relationships (i.e., dating, sex...), and religion are off limits. That's not to say students aren't interested in talking about these topics. However, it only takes that one offended student who ends up complaining to the higher ups. Teachers risk getting booted if they stray into "forbidden territory" in their classrooms. It happens.

By the way, depending on when you're expected to arrive in Qatar, be aware that this year, Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, starts around July 9 and ends August 8. Do an Internet search on ramadan qatar expat experience if you're unfamiliar with Ramadan.
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jiyu



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So these cultural events and festivals that you mention, can women attend them alone? Is it acceptable for women to wander around town, go to restaurants, movies, etc alone? Or are there restrictions to where and when they can be seen?

Also, what would say is the attitude towards academics? Do they get the respect they get in some Asian countries? Are there incentives and opportunities for research and publishing that would make coming there a good "career move?"

At this stage I still haven't accepted the position (I have a few days more to think about it). I'm trying to find an incentive other than the tax-free salary to attract me to the place.

Thanks for your patience with my endless questions!
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4855
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jiyu wrote:
So these cultural events and festivals that you mention, can women attend them alone? Is it acceptable for women to wander around town, go to restaurants, movies, etc alone? Or are there restrictions to where and when they can be seen?

Wander all you want---go to restaurants alone or meet up with friends. Doha even has clubs. Qatar is not Saudi Arabia. Yet, even in the Kingdom, single women get out and about. (By the way, these questions have been answered ad nauseam on those expat women forums I mentioned in one of my earlier posts.)

and wrote:
Also, what would say is the attitude towards academics? Do they get the respect they get in some Asian countries? Are there incentives and opportunities for research and publishing that would make coming there a good "career move?"

You never stated what content/subject you'd be teaching (I assume EFL) nor what your qualifications are. Obviously, if you're a PhD holder teaching something like linguistics to grad students, your "Dr." will garner more respect than someone with an MA who teaches English in a foundation year program. Anyway, these types of questions should have been asked during your interview.

and wrote:
At this stage I still haven't accepted the position (I have a few days more to think about it). I'm trying to find an incentive other than the tax-free salary to attract me to the place.

You need to decide what's most important to you instead of fishing for an incentive by asking random, basic questions. Otherwise, no one on ths forum will have a clue as to what your "must haves" are in order for you to feel comfortable living and working in Qatar. Frankly, I get the sense you're not really keen on the position, especially since you didn't do any research about the country/culture before applying and interviewing for the job---not being proactive.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 820
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:39 pm    Post subject: Take the job Reply with quote

I spent 3 years in Qatar and enjoyed it.

1-Get yourself a reliable driver-colleagues will help you. Driving isn't that bad just use your mirrors.

2-There's loads to do and see there from concerts, to camping to poolside life and it's a great place for sailing,fishing, scuba and so on.

3-There are loads of great restaurants there, so eating out is common.

4-I never had any probs with the net or sat TV.

5-The weather is fantastic for 9 months...of the 3 hotties, you'll probably be on holiday for half of it.

6-Don't trouble yourself with grand ideas like human rights and equality....enjoy your life and let them live how they live..you're the outsider.
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jiyu



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Take the job Reply with quote

dragonpiwo wrote:
I spent 3 years in Qatar and enjoyed it.

1-Get yourself a reliable driver-colleagues will help you. Driving isn't that bad just use your mirrors.

2-There's loads to do and see there from concerts, to camping to poolside life and it's a great place for sailing,fishing, scuba and so on.

3-There are loads of great restaurants there, so eating out is common.

4-I never had any probs with the net or sat TV.

5-The weather is fantastic for 9 months...of the 3 hotties, you'll probably be on holiday for half of it.

6-Don't trouble yourself with grand ideas like human rights and equality....enjoy your life and let them live how they live..you're the outsider.


Thank you very much. This is a very useful summary.

With regard to the weather, I know what the temperatures are outside. I was just curious as to how well organized Qatar is in keeping the weather outside. For example, in Hong Kong you practically never have to be in open air because everything is connected through tunnels, malls, etc. You can walk from practically one end of the city to the other without needing to go outside at all.When that's the case, the actual weather doesn't matter because airconditioning covers it.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 820
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:46 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

My route was house to car to office to bar to mall to restaurant or a variation thereof.......every link in that chain had an AC in it. Smile
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jiyu



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How's the stress level in Doha? Can you find places to relax? I'm wondering with all the construction I hear is going on that everywhere would be like a construction site and the noise pollution would be unbearable (I've lived in such places...not nice).
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 820
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 6:23 pm    Post subject: depends on you Reply with quote

It all depends on you and just how pro-active you are. I joined the Sheraton beach club and gym on my second day...it wasn't cheap....but was a great investment. I spent an hour in the gym most nights followed by a peaceful swim and then a few sundowners Wink. I also bought a 4x4 and went down south from time to time. There is a beach resort at Sealine and the dunes beyond, perfect for watching the sun go down and the skies were amazing. The thing is this-once you've made the decision to stay a while, invest in things that will facilitate your good times. Some people go there and steal the tea bags and loo paper from work and complain there's naff all to do. There's loads to do, but life ain't a free lunch and things rarely come to you except students loans demands. I used to eat out a lot, which could mean a ritzy 5* affair or a delicious $4 curry. There were endless drinks parties and food nights at people's houses.

Regarding safety-just take all the usual steps and if you are a woman, never trust a local and better to take taxis with people, especially at night.
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jiyu



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does anyone here work at Qatar U? I'd be working in a mainstream department as an Associate Prof, so it's not EFL.

I've tried to find forums for non EFL academics working in Qatar, but haven't found any. Please direct me to them if they exist.

I've been trying to get some info on housing from them (housing will be provided) but with no success. I've seen their site on housing but, again, there's too many compounds so I have no idea where they'd put me. Apparently all their faculty accommodation is 3 bedrooms.

If anyone on this forum works there and lives in one of the compounds I'd love to hear from you.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 671
Location: US

PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jiyu wrote:
I've tried to find forums for non EFL academics working in Qatar, but haven't found any. Please direct me to them if they exist.

Did you try the Chronicle of Higher Ed. fora? There's an "Academics in the Middle East" sub-forum inside of the "Working Abroad" forum. Not sure what kind of response you'll get, but it's probably worth a try.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16125
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jiyu wrote:
I've been trying to get some info on housing from them (housing will be provided) but with no success. I've seen their site on housing but, again, there's too many compounds so I have no idea where they'd put me. Apparently all their faculty accommodation is 3 bedrooms.

Housing in the Gulf is always kind of unpredictable. I suspect that no one, including their HR department, knows where you will be placed. If you arrive at the end of the new incoming staff, you have fewer options. About all you can do is cross your fingers... and if you learn that better options are available... you can try getting a move the next academic year.

We TEFLers are the bottom of the education food chain, so your chance of getting one of the better options is better than ours. I wouldn't worry too much about it myself... just be flexible and remember... you're not in Kansas (or England or wherever) any more...

VS
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 510

PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

veiledsentiments wrote:
you're not in Kansas anymore...

even Saudi has to be better than the endless plains of Kansas... surely!
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12866
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear sicklyman,

Having lived in both, I'll take Saudi. No chiggers and the locals tend to be more open-minded. Very Happy

Regards,
John
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