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).

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).

The Sheraton Hotel – Doha.

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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 an iced latte awaited me in a café on the fifth floor. I was sitting with said drink 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 breeze of a nearby fan. Momentarily confused, I realised the man had been referring to the blue and white hoops of my Q.P.R. shirt.

Smiling, I confirmed that 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 follow 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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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. There was a gym, saunas, squash courts, a small store selling American snacks and a gargantuan swimming pool complete with wooden bridge and an illuminated waterfall that came on in the evenings.

Beverly Hills Gardens, Doha. August 2001.

Then there was our villa, a massive space that comfortably housed my parents, brother, sister, dog and I, without ever feeling restrictive or cramped. It was the most luxurious home we’d ever had and in those first weeks I remember feeling like the guy who’d won the lottery as I lounged about the house thinking about what I was going to do with myself in Doha.

Mum, Cory and Inde at home in Doha’s Beverly Hills Gardens.

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