Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Month 9 in Qatar - To New Beginnings

Dear All,

My apologies for being a few days late on this letter. It has been a very busy week. It has been the week I returned to the US after 9 months living in Doha, Qatar.

Before I summarize my adventure, here are the high points of my final month abroad:

It rained. A lot. A few weeks before I left, Doha had its biggest thunderstorm in years. Unfortunately, with rain rare in Qatar, drainage is minimal or non-existent in the buildings or roads.

Although for Florida, the rain would not be a big deal, for Qatar, the rain made a mess. Roads were completely impassable; debris from construction sites floated into intersections; and parking garages were flooded. The rain even made its way into my apartment, causing puddles in my living room and bedroom.

A few days after the great flood, I visited the Mall of Qatar. As I’ve mentioned before, Qatar is huge on mall culture. Their malls are cultural gathering centers and celebrations of commercialism. Bigger than many airports, the Mall of Qatar is the biggest mall of them all. It is extravagant. During my visit, I ate at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant because nothing screams local Qatari culture more than a Texas-themed chain restaurant.

The next weekend, I finally did sightseeing at The Pearl, Qatar’s giant man-made residential islands. Very little at The Pearl is genuinely Qatari. The buildings are made to look like European architecture to attract European residents. But the prices at The Pearl are so high only senior level personnel or the Qataris themselves can afford to live there. But the architecture and development is very impressive. Not my type of neighborhood, but impressive nonetheless. And the food is delicious.

During my final weeks, I met three international professional basketball players. They were American, new to Qatar, and preparing to play in the Qatari National Basketball League. While probably not good enough to play in the NBA, they were still fulfilling their dreams of playing professional basketball and seeing the world one basketball season at a time. How cool is that?

Concluding my final days in Qatar, I saw another symphony performance, this time at the Islamic Museum of Art. The museum oversees the city skyline, so as you can see in the link below, I was able to get some more great pictures. 

Then it was off to the airport for my return home. It was a long flight, but I watched several in-flight movies and was even able to get some sleep.

It is weird for me to say I headed “home” as I made Qatar my home for 9 months. But Florida is home, even if I don’t have my own place to rest my head at the moment. I am working on that.

Overall, this was an experience I will not soon forget. I did a lot in 9 months. I saw the sights (over 500 pictures!), ate awesome food, made great friends, and met many amazing people. Living overseas was something I had always wanted to do and I embraced the experience. Given the right opportunity, I would definitely do it again. But for now, I’m back. Time to see family and friends, find another job and another place to live, and enjoy the holidays.

Again, many thanks to everyone who followed along. Thanks for reading, replying, and staying in touch.