A new adventure in the desert
We have been here in Qatar for 6 months on March 3, 2013 - I cannot believe it! Time flies when having fun, right?
Qatar seems like the new frontier. I feel like a pioneer. There is a lot of getting used to - things we take for granted are not yet set up. In a way - that can be frustrating. In another, that means possibilities of helping set it up to best practice is there!
Initially navigating through the unfamiliar bureaucracy of a foreign land was uncomfortable. I was fortunate to be supported by the patience of my manager and his family, and a community of expats who are so willing to help my family and I settle in.
The spirit of simply having faith has been a new attitude that has been my saving grace: Insha'Allah (meaning 'God Willing'), as the locals usually respond. This has been a discipline of being present, patient and receptive to things in a timely manner. What used to bug me because I am always wanting it all yesterday - has melted away as I learnt to slow down. It has even been healthier for me - it has literally lessened my blood pressure.
I have observed that verbal covenants seemed more valuable and important than written contracts. Hence, relationship building is key to surviving - I stand corrected - thriving in this part of the world. This has been a new map to navigate for me. It seemed a more intuitive and natural way to be - and I am loving this adaption.
My children, Xian and Jett, are enjoying their new school from Day 1. That's simply so comforting. They had been so apprehensive about coming to a strange place. Now, they look forward to meeting their new friends who have welcomed them so wholeheartedly into the community of 75 nationalities, and working with their passionate teachers at the American School of Doha. They described them as friendly, helpful, kind and supportive. That's a nice culture to move into. That does not mean they do not MISS their family, friends and teachers in Sydney. We still have moments of high emotion (and tears). Overall, this has been the best reason for them being here. The experience of learning in a positive environment of such diversity is priceless.
My work environment is stimulating, and my colleagues warm, welcoming and encouraging. Work begins at 7am - that took a bit of getting used to. 3.30pm is quitting time and I can usually leave on time. (Kids are 8-3pm) Except for duty travel which could be quite regular now that we have sort of settled down into a routine and my manager is comfortable I can leave my family (family values are very strong here) for an extended period - I have lots of daylight and family time at home. How refreshing!
I get to go on duty travel at least once a month for 4-7 days. I have been to Frankfurt to meet my European counterparts. Then Bangkok for our Asia Pacific connection. I was recently in Tunis and excited as this was my first sojourn to the African continent.
It has been hardest on my husband Ken - as he has to straddle 2 continents. He has been getting here every 3-4 weeks, staying about 2-3 weeks and heading back. That's the beauty of being part of the aviation industry. Still we miss him heaps. As another chapter of Intentional Parenting opens here, we are firmly setting out minds that he will be here more than he is there - reversing the ratio. Insha'Allah (God Willling) as we say it here in the Middle East.
During our relocation, the kids thought it was a great start to fly Business (and we unanimously voted Qatar Airways the best Business Class experience to date), and to be put up for a week in the 5-star Oryx Rotana hotel. As much as it was nice to luxuriate in our 5-star abode, we were glad to move to an apartment and cook-and-clean (Never thought I'd admit to that!)....What a relief to be settled, unpacking our boxes and making it feel like home....
Because I haven't gotten my head around the roads yet - we have a driver who take Xian & Jett to school (and they adore him), for my work, and the errands I need to get to. In time, I will get a car ....most expats pick up a gas guzzler here that they will never do so back home as the price of petrol is one Qatari riyal per litre (ie about 30cents equivalent)! On top of that, the price of tax-free luxury vehicles is easily 30-40% cheaper than back home, and the bank loans are very attractive - works out at about 2% p.a. for a car lease! However, even with my driver and cabs to get around - this works out quite economical and convenient at present. Still better than thinking about car leases, registration or insurance! (Not to mention manouvring the chaos of peak hour road traffic in an unfamiliar city.)... At this rate, I can get used to just being chauffeured around!
It is interesting that barely 60 yrs ago - this country was traveling on boat and camel. It has leapt to jumbo jets in that time, and roads. Rail is the next network due to open in 2016. Kind of the reverse of how transport and communications developed in the rest of the world! Like this country, the organisation I am working for has had a meteoric rise to success under the leadership of The Chief, as the CEO has been endearingly called. He has taken this little regional airline of 4 aircraft to a 2-time winner of "best 5-star airline in the world" (voted by Skytrax) in 2011 and 2012. This is such an opportunity to work with and under his leadership - to be able to contribute and learn at the same time. I have been drawn to study the leadership of Mr Akbar Al Baker and to add value to his vision.
Overall settling into A Whole New World has been a great start to our new adventure as a family - albeit quite a few unsettling adjustments. But that is all so good for the soul. I am looking forward to more exciting discoveries over the next six months.