Theater 4 – a short story from Qatar.

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In the summer of 2001 I boarded a near-empty Qatar Airways flight to Doha. Reuniting with my family who’d recently moved there for my father’s new job, it was my first time living abroad.

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Back in the early noughties Qatar wasn’t the most exciting place in the world for a single guy. There were virtually no pubs or nightclubs to speak of, a non-existent dating scene and as far as live music went things were drier than the city’s surrounding deserts. (I’m going to pretend UB40’s depressing stop in Doha never happened).

The Sheraton Hotel – Doha.

For those literally unable to survive a few days without a drink, (all my fellow English teachers) there were just two options. A) Get an expensive license that allowed you to drink alcohol strictly in the comfort of your own home. Or B) Drag yourself over to one of the city’s soulless hotel bars (usually The Marriot or The Sheraton).

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Khalifa Dreams – a short story from Qatar.

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In the summer of 2001 I boarded a near-empty Qatar Airways flight to Doha. Reuniting with my family who’d recently moved there for my father’s new job, it was my first time living abroad.

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It was another boiling hot afternoon. Ducking out of a taxi into the insane heat, I made the short dash over to City Center, Doha’s premier shopping mall, where a latte awaited me in a café on the fifth floor. I was sitting with a hot jumbo-sized mug in my clutches reading a magazine when a voice called across from a nearby table. ‘‘Hello friend, you are soccer fan?’’

Looking up, I saw two Qatari men dressed in traditional white ankle-length thobes, their red and white headdresses fluttering in the overzealous air-con. Momentarily confused, I realised the man had been referring to the blue and white hoops of my Q.P.R. shirt.

Smiling, I confirmed I was indeed an avid follower of the beautiful game, a revelation that saw the two men swiftly transfer the contents of their table to mine. ‘‘You know… Qatar now play qualify for World Cup. For South Korea-Japan” said the taller of the two, the owner of an impressive chest-level beard. ”You should support them!’’ 

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Ashraf – a short story from Qatar.

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In the summer of 2001 I boarded a near-empty Qatar Airways flight to Doha. Reuniting with my family who’d recently moved there for my father’s new job, it was my first time living abroad.

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Beverley Hills Gardens, Doha.

My first weeks in Doha were about as pleasant and stress free as I could have hoped for. I lived with my family in an expat compound called Beverly Hills Gardens, a fifteen minute drive from the city’s commercial district. Row after symmetrical row of terracotta villas, it had everything young unemployed me could have possibly needed. A gym, saunas, squash courts, a small shop and a gargantuan swimming pool complete with wooden bridge. Not to mention an illuminated waterfall that came on in the evenings.

Then there was our home, a massive space that easily housed my parents, brother, sister, dog and I, without ever feeling restrictive or cramped. Whenever I felt the need to escape this suburban bubble, I’d grab a lift into town with my dad. Or hail one of the many orange-white taxis driven by Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans.

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