Yogesh is a seeker of the simple, the spiritual and essentially the enriching experiences that can help us through the more critical moments in life. As a long-time affiliate of the travel industry, he moved to Qatar in 2007 as an atypical expat – an ordinary man in search of an extraordinary Arab culture.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Pune, India
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Doha, Qatar
Q: How long have you lived here?
A: I’ve lived in Qatar for two years; I arrived in November 2007.
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: Simply to experience Arabic culture. I’ve been associated with the travel industry since 1994.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your host city? How’s the quality of life in Qatar?
A: The city has some incredibly grand shopping malls. They are huge, awesome, beautiful & attractive structures. The months from October to March are the loveliest to experience in a region where the weather can wear you thin.
I congratulate the local Public Works Dept for maintaining this city, and I applaud their constant endeavour to beautify every roadside by planting colourful flowers even during a 50+ degrees Celsius hot summer.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: I miss the monsoon season most. We don’t have those heavy showers in this part of the world.
Q: Is Doha safe?
A: Doha is extremely safe.
About living in Qatar
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Doha as an expat?
A: In Doha, West Bay is majorly preferred by expat families due to its Western look and feel. Otherwise, Gharafa is another suburb to enjoy a peaceful life away from the chaos of traffic.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Qatar?
A: I rate the standard of accommodation 7 out of 10 – though taking care to make note that this is depending on the type of accommodation we are negotiating.
Generally though, the houses are well-built and very spacious.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Qatar compared to India? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: There has been sharp inflation in the past three years. Compared to India, I find this place more expensive when it comes to shopping for popular brands and labels.
The cheapest commodity is fresh olives, which we don’t get in India.
It’s mind-bogglingly expensive to own a house in Doha. Just two years ago, the government permitted expats to own property if purchased from particular builders. But if you can afford and buy a villa, then you automatically qualify for Qatari citizenship (which is just impossible otherwise). So to those who’d like to stay, the cost is worthwhile.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: Locals are really a good community. They are very friendly, except for spoilt kids of rich Arabs whom you may come across on roads rallying using their Lamborghinis or Ferraris and Ford Mustangs.
I have more local friends than expats, as I involved myself with a few of the local organisations to understand the people, culture and work practices.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Yes, there are local communities for every nationality, and they all meet on weekends in various venues, networking with each other to make their stay exciting.
About working in Qatar
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
Q: What’s the economic climate like in Doha? Is there plenty of work?
A: Qatar is growing rapidly, and there are plenty of jobs around. As reality goes though, applicants must prove their mantle.
Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: The local Qataris lack professionalism. They have a very easygoing, laid-back attitude, which is not seen in new-age India.
Family and children in Doha
Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A: Yes, my wife took a bit more time to adjust to this dry but very humid environment. The absence of humans and animals around the house – something we were very accustomed to in India – made her homesick for a long time.
Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: Yes, my 3-year-old son enjoyed the new place from day one. It was 18 hours of fun for him.
Q: What are the schools like? Do you have any particular suggestions?
A: There are many options available for schooling, but it definitely costs depending on what facilities you plan to use for your kids.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Qatar?
A: The hospitals are not really reliable. Though there are big names in this sector, I found expats going back to their home countries or heading to India for available cheaper and quality healthcare.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: It’s important to remember as an expat interested in moving to Qatar that the emirate is certainly not a tourist destination.
Expats have literally flocked to the Gulf after the recession hit globally. It is growing, and expats are negotiating incredible salaries which were never possible even in their home countries or around.
Qatar is developing very fast, and the Emir of Qatar is not missing any opportunity to put this small country on the world map and make sure he’s noticed by global citizens, travellers & their families.
~Interviewed May 2010