We have all heard the news on TV of the blockade in Qatar. I am the type of person refreshing the news pages for updates. Now that it has been some weeks since it took place, I thought I would write up a few points on what it’s like living in Doha (the capital of Qatar) at the moment. We have been living in Doha for 6 months and so far, we have really enjoyed settling in. Before coming here, I had mixed feelings due to reading all these other blogs and forums and hearing various opinions. Once I stopped doing so and starting learning about Doha for myself, things changed.
The first day the blockade was announced, many people started to panic. Coincidently we had moved apartments and we didn’t have any food so I had to make a trip to the supermarket. It was by far the longest queue I had ever had to wait in during my time in Doha. Some people were panic buying, whilst others were just doing their daily/ weekly shop. Everyone was expressing their own opinions of what would happen. Now, everything is back to normal in the supermarket and there is no panic buying. We did have a very short (2 day) ‘dairy produce’ shortage but they quite efficiently imported some from Turkey. The funny thing is that some people didn’t like the Turkish milk since they weren’t used to the strong smell. I prefer it because I find it closer to the “real deal.” If anything though, it was funny to read some of the comments about how Qataris reacted to the changes in the food and produce.
With this, people continue with their daily routines and continue to express support and hoping that things will work out for the best. We all go to work, have meals with family and go for walks, albeit they are very sweaty ones since humidity now is high! I love the fact that people just go on about their daily lives and on the outside nothing seems to have changed.
One thing I love about Doha is that it’s very safe. On the weekend, I went with a friend to Souq Waqif and even at 1 am, the area was buzzing with people. Another thing that was nice to see was that there were quite a few tourists in the souq as well. I would have thought that people would have cancelled their flights or visits amidst fears, especially in the first few days. And on that topic, the one major change which I know affected a lot of people was the airspace blockade. For us, we had to cancel our Umrah trip because Saudi didn’t issue visas and many people had to change their flights. Many of our friends going to countries such as Egypt, UAE, Bahrain had problems finding flights as most were booked up.
Thankfully, many airlines were understanding, even the ones that were not immediately affected. Dubai is a major hub and many times you can find cheaper flights from there to Asia or Europe than from Doha, so a lot of the expats book via Dubai. Of course, another factor is the extra time it takes to circulate around the blocked countries which can add up to the flight time. I almost forgot this and when booking connecting flights I would have still been in the air while my next flight was taking off! I didn’t have any issues finding tickets with Qatar Airways out of Doha, though flights to popular destinations such as the UK are already booked.
Overall life here is moving along, people are hopeful that diplomacy can solve the issues and that life will be back to normal, which for some means Saudi dairy products too!