“You’re moving WHERE?” asked another one of my friends, after I informed him that I’m planning to settle down in Qatar, back in 2012.
Once again, I had to explain that I’m not set to live in a village in the middle of the desert, rolling my eyes at lousy jokes about being sold to a desert tribe for 10 camels. Once again, I had to hear about how different living in Qatar will be for me and how I’ll be hopping on a plane back to Poland in no time. Such confrontations had always left me frustrated. I had suddenly become a centre of attention for people who wouldn’t even bother to have a decent conversation with me a month earlier. Boarding a plane to Doha felt like a huge relief – I was going to finally join my amazing husband, even if it was in a country I had little idea about.
Back in Poland, I had been happily pursuing what I then considered as “the only viable career path”: law. I was prepared to enter the world of smart talk, fancy business suits and posh dinners. But the Universe had other plans… My whole life flipped upside down when I got involved with a handsome Tunisian guy, who I ended up marrying in 2012. Khaled had been living in Doha already and I spontaneously made a decision to join him.
In general, I do not enjoy staying idle, so after landing in Qatar I immediately started looking for something to do. I knew I’ll have to redefine my career, since Polish law graduates are not exactly sought after in the Middle East. Luckily, Qatar is a perfect place to start over. What I’ve noticed is that many employers here tend to be much more open minded and willing to hire people with “potential”, even if they lack the experience. I began by learning how to order German luxury vehicles for the local market, which became my day job for the next 6 years. I then meddled a bit in Chinese trucks & heavy machinery, and ended up running a local real estate platform. Meanwhile, I’ve also started my very own blog which became surprisingly successful among families living in Doha, as well as Polish expats in other Asian countries.
In a rare surge of spontaneity back in 2019, our family made a joint decision to move back to Poland. We thought it’s the next logical step for us, but turned out it wasn’t, for many reasons. We’ve only lasted 8 months before promptly returning to Doha!
Among many things which I love about Qatar, safety is the most important one. How amazing it is that if you accidentally leave your stuff behind in a restaurant, it will still be there when you return, safeguarded by an employee who stumbled upon it. That you can stroll alone in the middle of the night without having to look over your shoulder in fear of getting mugged. That if you forget to lock your car, it won’t immediately get stolen.
Money is, obviously, another important factor. Even though the cost of living in Qatar is quite high, saving money is much easier than in Europe. It all comes at a price, but it’s definitely easier to get “filthy rich” in the Middle East than it is in Poland. Did I also mention that income tax doesn’t exist here?
So here we are now, still in the sandpit, still making the most of our time in the Middle East, together with our three wonderful boys and one lazy cat. What was supposed to be “a year or two”, turned into almost 10 years, and counting!
-Joanna & Khaled (Poland, Tunisia)