Breaking news klaxon: we’re leaving Qatar…
Life, so they say, is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
In our case, the plan when we moved to Qatar in 2012 was that, having given up my job back in the UK, I would find a permanent role once I got out here.
And although I have been keeping myself busy professionally with plenty of short-term contracts, the anticipated full-time job proved elusive.
But I never stopped looking, searching, networking and applying and now, finally, I’ve been offered a great job…
…down the road (sort of) in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE.
Which means that, in a mirror of our arrival, Mrs LC will be leaving her job here for pastures new, and an excitingly uncertain future.
Same same but different
So it’ll mean some changes; come September, I won’t be doing the school run any more (which means I’ll need to cook up an excuse as to why I’ve still got 1989 on repeat in the car).
It’ll mean new schools, neighbours, classmates and colleagues. The fun of accidentally discovering a city because you keep getting lost again. I’ll need to call Family Little City something else, as well…
A lot of daily life will be very familiar, from the heat to the exchange rate to the sound of the call to prayer. One of the biggest pluses of moving to Qatar has been the way the structure of the days gives you so much more time together as a family.
That was something we wanted to retain, if we could. It’s one of the biggest reasons why the only thing we could say for sure about where next? was ‘not back to the UK’.
So although this development may seem sudden (and judging from typical recruitment speeds in the Gulf, it is) it’s also been three years in the making for me.
(Unfortunately it wasn’t something I could share when Doha Heat interviewed me recently. Towards the end I was asked: ‘What’s coming up for the rest of 2015?’ Listen carefully and you’ll hear the sound of a man desperately trying to disguise the fact that he couldn’t, at that time, talk about the only thing on his mind.)
We’re confident we’re making a good move for our family. Which is what I need to focus on, because the next few weeks are going to be another blur of logistics. The stories we’ve heard from departing friends of just how much administrative bureaucracy there is to untangle yourself from here appears to be depressingly accurate.
(Classic example: Mrs LC’s employer insists she visit her workplace library – somewhere she has never set foot in – so that someone can tick a box of her Clearance Certificate to say she has no books still out on loan. Ditto transport to say you don’t have a company car. Ditto the laundry to say you don’t have a uniform…and that’s just her employer.)
All of which has to be done in person, and all of which is complicated by the fact that she’s hobbling around on crutches following a minor foot operation.
But the wheels are most definitely in motion: she has handed in her notice and surrendered her passport (she gets it back in exchange for her completed Clearance Certificate)
Meanwhile, the kids have stoically sat a second set of school entrance exams (Kid A was already gearing up to switch schools anyway, as she’s moving up to secondary school from September) and we are in the thick of getting removal quotes, trying to sell our cars etc…
There will, I’m sure, be plenty more reactions and observations to come as we work our way through the queues to cancel credit cards and utility accounts, and as we start to do things for the last time.
But for now, I’ll just share one observation that has stood out for me.
Whilst some people have expressed surprise when we’ve told them we’re leaving Qatar, more have been surprised by the fact that we aren’t going ‘home’.
It’s as if the experience of living here would be enough to put anyone off doing this again anywhere else.
But whilst I think Qatar is one of the more challenging places to be expats at all, let alone as newbie first timers, it strikes me as a waste of effort to not put all those lessons we’ve learned – good and bad – to use somewhere else.
The expat bug has bitten us; here’s to new adventures!