20 September 2016

Sumaica Asad - Expat in Doha, Qatar

Sumaica Asad - Expat in Doha, Qatar

We’ve had the chance to talk to Sumaica Asad, 19, a Pakistani expat who has moved to Qatar with her family. Ms. Asad who has been living there for eight years is a student.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Pakistan.


Q: What made you move out of Pakistan?

A: My dad was travelling a lot for his job, living for six months in one country, then a year in the other. At first, it was okay. But after a while, it was really hard for us as a family. My parents wanted to be together so then we also moved out.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: Doha, Qatar.


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Basically, my father's company had an office in Qatar as well, and they needed an architect really badly so my father got the opportunity to come here and bring us as well.


Q: How long have you been living in Qatar?

A: It’s been eight years.


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in Qatar?

A: We moved here from KSA. I was only 11 years old at the time. I didn't like the school and the people there. It was really hot here. And Doha does not have the wide variety of theme parks and rides that Jeddah offers. And at that time, Doha did not have a lot of indoor activities.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in Qatar? What was your experience with these?

A: Getting the visa was hard. My dad got the Resident Permit within six months. But we, as a family were on Visit Visa for almost 1 and a half year. We had to go to the border which connects KSA with Qatar to have our visit visa re-issued. At that time we had a Saudi visa because my father had previously worked there. In the Middle East, you cannot keep permanent visa of two countries at the same time. So sometimes family visas can be a hassle, but as an employee, it’s up to the company to get you the required visa.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: I am living with my family which includes my parents and three brothers.


Q: How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: As a family, I have to say that we all love it. Qatar has become like a home to us now. We have had the chance to travel and explore a lot. My younger brother opted to go back to Pakistan for further studies, but my elder brother and I decided to stay here. 


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Qatar? How did you manage to find a social circle in Qatar?

A: This was a sour point for me as a kid because the kids were very different than my friends back home. But my dad came here three months before us. So, he had already socialised and made a few friends. His office used to have a lot of dinners and parties where all the families met and got acquainted. I found my friends through school, and some became family friends.

As an expat, meeting people and making friends is a little hard at first but then you get used to it. And you make friends in all kinds of places, be it hospitals or parking lots.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: The first thing is beaches. If you are coming to Qatar, you have to love the beach. Qatar is only connected to KSA by land on one side. The rest is surrounded by water. Other things include water sports, dune bashing, etc. There are tons of malls for shopping if you are a shopaholic and a great variety of food available. We have some five-star cinemas over here.


Q: How does the cost of living in Qatar compared to your home?

A: The cost of living is more expensive than back home. One of the things is that fruits and vegetables are not as fresh and cheap as back home.  

  • How much is a cup of coffee?

A: A cup of Starbucks is QR 20, almost 5 dollars.

  •  How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: Fast food options are unlimited. They are inexpensive and a meal costs from QR 25 to 60.

  • How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: In a more expensive restaurant a meal would cost 150 to 200 QR per person.


Q: How do you find the local culture and people in Qatar?

A: I absolutely love the locals. They are very humble and down to earth considering, I do live in the richest country in the world. I was once admiring a Ferrari in front of a hotel, and the guy driving offered me to drive it. That is how amazing these people are. They are trying to preserve the culture but in my eight years that I have been here, it’s dying. But there are Museums for you to explore and see what this country is all about.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Qatar?

A: The positive thing is that compared to Pakistan, it’s very safe. My mom always says that the reason I live in Qatar is that I can go out leaving my front door open without a care in the world. That is exaggeration. But it is safe. It’s very clean. Where ever you go, you will find it spic and span. The culture is so diverse; you will find all nationalities of people here.

The only negative side is the weather. It’s hot ten months of the year. So after a while it gets annoying.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Yes, I miss home and my extended family. Especially at special occasions like weddings and Eid holidays. I miss all of our family friends that I grew up with because I am not there for their big days. And I miss the food. Pakistan has awesome food where ever you go from a roadside "Dhaba" to a five-star restaurant.


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I don't get homesick as such, because, for me, home is where I live at the moment. It’s where my parents and siblings are. So for me, Qatar is home. But when I miss my extended family, I just recall all the memories that we have together.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: I do not have any plans for moving back home. But I would love to move to a different country. I love travelling. And expat life is perfect for that. So in the future, hopefully, I will be moving somewhere else and exploring more.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: The hardest aspect I would say is missing out on important occasions back home, and missing the food over there. It’s also coping with your loved ones deaths. As an expat that is a reality that you have to live with. You might not make it to your loved one’s funeral let alone to say goodbye.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: Qatar is VERY hot. I am not kidding. We have a 40 C temperature all year long going to 50 C in summers. It’s boiling hot, and then there is not a lot you can do in that weather. So invest in sunglasses, sunblock, etc.

Explore Qatar. It has a lot to offer. Get out of the city and see the different beaches. Go dune bashing or on a desert safari.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Qatar?

A: Yes, I do. My favourite is 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle. I have recently discovered Clumsy Chic and Dream Days.