Out of the Frying Pan

Breaking news klaxon: we’re leaving Qatar…

Life, so they say, is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

Kid A and Amnesiac ride in to the sunset
I’ve waited ages to use this photo as a setting sun metaphor

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.

“Baby I could build a castle / Out of all the bricks they threw at me…” You tell ’em, Taylor

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…

51C / 123F
Hot as it was in Qatar this week (123F), it was even hotter in the UAE…

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.)

Logistical blur

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.

It all just adds to the fun

(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…

Once bitten

Al Difaaf Street
The view this week from Lo Spaghetto on Al Difaaf St, where I ate on my first night in Doha. The regeneration of Al Waab (and the rest of Doha) is constant

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!


11 thoughts on “Out of the Frying Pan

  1. lovetotrav June 5, 2015 / 1:35 pm

    Best of luck on your move. It sounds promising that you want to stay in the region. My daughter and I are moving to Cairo in Aug. and hopefully, in the end, the good will outweigh the negative and that the experience will be rewarding.

    • littlecity June 5, 2015 / 3:42 pm

      Thanks! I think that’s the perfect way to approach your move: assume there will be chaos and craziness, but that the benefits will outweigh both. Good luck yourself!

  2. dreamdaysblog June 5, 2015 / 6:19 pm

    Good luck with the move, it sounds like it’ll be a great opportunity for you. Will you continue to blog? I’ll be keen to read about it.

    • littlecity June 6, 2015 / 9:09 am

      Thanks! That’s very kind of you. As ofr the blogging – definitely. Helps me organise my thoughts and will be interesting to compare experiences (in what are fairly similar environments) as a second-timer vs. newbie 🙂

  3. kumari June 7, 2015 / 2:59 pm

    wish you all the best for your new destination and the sad part is this is my first blog reading. take care and experience the world

    • littlecity June 7, 2015 / 5:36 pm

      Cheers, that’s v kind of you. Don’t worry about missing out, though – the blogging will continue!

  4. 24vs100 June 11, 2015 / 10:06 am

    Sounds exciting and congratulations on the new opportunity that you worked so hard for! I heard Abu Dhabi is a big town and quite expat-friendly. I’m sure the LC family will still have a lot of fun wherever you all go!

    • littlecity June 12, 2015 / 4:51 am

      Thanks, that’s very kind of you. Whatever else happens, fun, adventure and introspective blog posts will surely follow!

  5. Colin June 12, 2015 / 3:51 am

    Fear not. My three sons and I are joining my wife and daughter in Doha in July so reinforcements have (or will) arrived! I will look for work but seek adventure and welcome chaos.

    • littlecity June 12, 2015 / 5:39 am

      Wow, you sound just like me c. summer 2012! (apart from the three sons bit, obviously).

      Embrace the chaos; you can’t fight it and trying to will only tire you out – but go with the flow, and adventure will definitely follow. Good luck!

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