“Qatar, eh? Wow. So, er…”

…and that’s the point at which the voices usually trail off. But I’ve seen and heard this enough times now; I’m getting good at reading between the lines.

Most people’s first question is usually: “Where’s that?” Don’t worry, it was ours too, way back when. But there are those who don’t want to sound unworldly, so they leave the comment hanging in the hope that you’ll fill in the blanks. I’m happy to oblige.

“It’s a thumb-shaped peninsula projecting into the Arabian Gulf. Over the water from Iran. About half the size of Wales.”

(We only realised the limitations of using Wales as a unit of measurement when we were telling a Polish friend about the move. A few days later we received a lovely card from her wishing us all the best for our new life in…Wales.)

“Hot, then.”

“Yup. Total desert – no inland water whatsoever. 50 degrees in the summer. Sandstorms. About three days of rain a year. Residents photograph it like we do snow.”

[Pause] “So..?”

This hanging consonant is either about to become a question about money or religion. At which point you can combine two answers and point out that restricted supply means that a pint will set you back about £8 in the hotel bars, you need a tax-free salary to make ends meet.

[Some face pulling. A longer pause this time.] “Why?”
And there’s the biggie. Why indeed?

Well, because it’s where Mrs Little City’s job is. Because of the country’s ambition and attitude, in that its going places but not in the same garish way as Dubai. Because it’s friendly and sunny. Because the kids are still young and portable. Because of the opportunity to live and work in another culture and climate.

And because it’s finally time to embrace the power of ‘what if?’ and ‘what have we got to lose?’

You say “why?” I say: “why not?”


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