In my experience of telling people about what we’re up to, there are some FAQ’s that are quite common:
1. “Is it safe?” Or similarly, “With all the turmoil going on in the Middle East are you sure that’s where you want to go right now?”
Our families have put up with some crazy antics from us. I find it amusing (I’m sure they do not) that the last time we went to live in another country it was 24 years ago and we went to Mexico and Honduras. Mexico, dangerous only in the size of the city and all that comes with that, but Honduras at the time was in the middle of the Sandinista Contra war. That’s not why we went there, and the turmoil in the Middle East is certainly not why we’re going there. It’s just a coincidence that I find amusing.
I’m going to defer this question to The Economist. They have an interactive chart called the Shoe Thrower’s Index. It takes several factors into account and makes predictions on the probability of an uprising in the Middle Eastern countries. Qatar is at the bottom of the list when the most meaningful indicators are used.
Here is the video:
2. “Will you and Honour have to cover up.” The answer is no…well, not really. Qatar is one of the most progressive of the Muslim countries. They have a partially elected government system in which women are allowed to vote and allowed to be voted in. The first time this was allowed was 13 years ago and a woman was voted in right away. Dave’s boss (the principle of the school) is a woman, when he met her she was dressed in a business suit. His school Qatar Academy Al Khor is a co-ed school offering classes in Arabic and English to Qatari children. But to the question about dress, the guideline is modesty. Covering shoulders and knees is appropriate. So maybe a little adjustment for Honour ,(but not for school because that would be the current dress code for her school here in Canada) and no adjustments for me.
There are a huge number of expats living in Qatar, in fact they outnumber the local Qataris. I’ve read a number of statistics and I don’t know which is correct. I’ve read 65/35 all the way to 85/15. I would imagine it’s hard to track given the number of expats coming and going each year. Maybe that explains the discrepancies. But suffice it to say that they are used to rubbing shoulders with people who are not exactly like themselves. Even amongst themselves there is quite a variety of acceptable ways to dress.
3. The third most common question I get asked (especially from my women friends who know that we’re going there for Dave’s job) is “Are YOU happy about this?” and the related “What will YOU do there?”
Yes, I’m really excited for a new adventure. I’m not sure what I’ll do for work yet. I can work (that’s also an FAQ). For the first little while I’ll be on the home front keeping things running smoothly while Dave and Honour transition to their new schools and we all transition to our new location. I have ideas about what to do with my days that involve taking courses (resuming my education through Athabasca University), spend more time with my neglected piano, write my blog (and maybe some other things) and keep in close touch with my girls back home and our friends. That should keep me busy for a while!
If there are other questions feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in the comment section and I’ll try to answer them.