In her latest column for the Expat Telegraph, Doha News editor-at-large Victoria Scott focuses on the life skills needed to settle comfortably into Qatar.
Figuring out to plan (way) in advance, network with new people and pack/unpack with swiftitude are among the more obvious ones.
But another critical skill expats need is a sense of good humor, said Scott, who has lived here for five years.
“Life is so much easier if you stop swimming against the tide,” she argues, meaning that while one cannot control the pace of bureaucracy here, or the heavy traffic or many other things, residents can at least temper their expectations and adjust their own reaction to such challenges.
“It really is worth remembering to smile. One of the aspects of Qatari society I admire most is their friendliness and hospitality, and this is just as true over the counter at a government office as it is in a majlis. If you’re desperate to get your paperwork done, you are much more likely to get a positive response if you’re warm and friendly, rather than walking up to the desk with conflict in your eyes.
The fluid nature of bureaucratic processes in Qatar has two sides. Whilst you may be caught out by changes, and infuriated by your many pointless journeys around town, you may also be able to take advantage of the pliability of the rules. This isn’t the UK, where “computer says no” – this is Qatar, where a smiling manager drinks tea with you, and might bend the rules if he feels you’re genuine and return his warmth.”
Other tips to decrease stress while living in Doha include managing expectations – “never expect to achieve anything on the first attempt” – and always keeping a file of important documents on hand.
“There’s nothing like being asked to produce your grandmother’s birth certificate and actually being able to bring it out with a flourish and a victorious smile,” Scott jokes.
How do you cope with stress in Qatar? Thoughts?
This advice is incorrect, when I deal with most government offices in a friendly and polite manner nothing gets done, when I start raging and get aggressive my work gets taken care of.
Government employees always seem to be on their best behavior when dealing with women, especially when the women are smiling at them.
Playing by the rules is really difficult. Mostly because the rules are’t written down anywhere and just when you think you know everything…they change for no apparent rhyme or reason.
I just can’t agree with the whole ‘hospitality and friendliness’ statement. My experiences have been at the opposite end of the spectrum. It was so nice to go home for the summer and actually have shop keepers smile at you and say hello as well as have a chat.
I thought only when you had to renew your UK passport in Doha they’d ask you for your grandparents birth certificate … Can’t think of any Qatari agency which would require it of an expat
You are forgetting your Friday brunch when you sink enough wine to sink the titanic and spend four hours complaining about the locals.
lol I came here thinking “MIMH must’ve made his obligatory, booz by the pool comment,” I’m not disappointed 🙂
I didn’t mention the pool in this one, that is during the week when the husband is work….
It’s getting old, man. Tory has a small baby and another child at home and a husband who has to travel a lot for work. No boozy Friday afternoons for her…
You don’t have to tell me, I love her blogs 🙂
I can’t say I do but each have their own opinion. Many don’t like my opinions either and that is fine as well.
I guess I hold Doha News to higher standards than I should and really should consider it an amateur publication. However compared to the usual printed media in Qatar it fills a niche.
Compared to the usual printed media, it’s the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal.
You get my up vote
“Swiftitude” ? Even my auto-correct is having seizures.
I do not pay tax, so everything I have the “right” to, is sort of a bonus. I do not vote either, and I accept these are not “my” rules. So I ask for everything, instead of demanding. And it does work to be humble about what you need. Anywhere in the world I guess. As for the smiling trick, it does help, not just in dealing with Qatar’s bureaucracy, but with… life in general. Regarding the driving jungle, if possible buy a big car, take a lot of deep breaths, do not give in to the temptation of driving as aggressively, and listen to relaxing music. Smiles won’t work.
I think the first picture sums up this article perfectly……especially the content. By the way Victoria , if you stop “Swimming against the tide”, you get swept away.
Any dead fish can go with the current, right?
The least you can say about governments’ agencies is that they are unpredictable!
Lengthy bureaucratic process are not logically justified in a country where its population just recently reached 2m.
My advice : be prepared to act as a walking archives for every ministry. Each document counts. They will ask you for copies of documents they have produced themselves! The system does not retrieve old data. And remember practice makes perfect!
“The least you can say about governments’ agencies is that they are unpredictable!” BINGO 😀
I think I will just employ a “life coach”.I wonder if Cesear Milan is available?
I am fed up with the phrase “lower your expectations” in Qatar. I’ve heard it countless times since being here.
When you continuously lower your expectations, nothing ever improves.
How do you cope with the stress?
A QDC licence.
Stop swimming against the tide=close your eyes and ears to everything you see around you.
I agree that one requires a sense of humor in Qatar. It’s where I learned to laugh hysterically at the notion that one was making any kind of commitment to follow through when saying “insha’allah.”
Before you complain about the shortfalls in Qatar, have you ever tried getting past red tape in the UK? Nightmare. Please stop the eternal whinging. If you don’t like it there, pack up and relocate somewhere else.
Just to sum up Victoria’s advice:
1. Stop trying
2. Stop making an effort
3. Lower your standards and expectations
4. Give up
From the Editor at Large. Doha News has a great future ahead 😉
One thing I’ve learned from moving here is that home is where your family is, and that having an attitude of patience and discovery can make all the difference. Having good podcasts and music makes a big difference, and using a stopwatch to discover that you were only waiting ten minutes at that roundabout, not five years.