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JustHere | December 3, 2016

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Born this way

Qatar is their home, not their country. In this series, we profile those of foreign origin who share their perspectives on the only home they know. Most of these 'Third Culture Kids' were born in Qatar, and all of them did their schooling here. Now, as young adults, they continue their Qatar journey.
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Raneem Husni Jabari

Born: March 17, 1993

Profession: Fourth year student studying business of Hospitality Management and an intern.

Nationality: American/Palestinian

In Qatar since: 1998

Annual residence permit renewal: March

Earliest Qatar Memory: The camping trips with family and friends around Qatar on weekends. Best memories of my life!

Those other places: One thing I noticed everywhere I travel is the diversity of fun things to do in one day.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: I missed the family gatherings we used to have on a daily basis in my grandparents’ house.

What must change here, now: The only aspect I wish was different or could change is the weather. It’s extremely hot in the summer.

What do you wish would never change: Feeling secure.

Home is: Where I have spent the most unforgettable memories along with the people I love (family and friends).

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Alaa Mohamad Ali

Born: September 29, 1990

Profession: Project Executive

Nationality: Lebanese by passport, Turkish and Syrian by blood

In Qatar since: One month old

Annual residence permit renewal: December

Earliest Qatar Memory: My most vivid memory is the shooting of the cannon in Ramadan 1994. I was 4 years old, and the Canon was at the old Post office location by the Corniche. After that day, every time I would watch it on TV I would understand the association of the cannon and my family breaking their fast. It was such a strange yet exciting feeling.

Those other places: Its traumatising to see how traffic signals were so easily crossed and how cars had no specific lane. The traffic was a complete mess. One thing I love about Qatar is the streets. It is so easy to drive here, and the distances are not as long as in Lebanon because of the fast traffic flow. Although at times in rush hour, traffic here gets congested, but its rush hour every hour at Lebanon!

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: I missed how Qatar’s culture brought family together. On most occasions, and in most events, it almost always revolves around family. Going away to study in Lebanon, I felt very independent and reliant on myself. I missed the cosiness of this country that made almost all outings family friendly.

What must change here, now: The difficulty to travel from one place to another without a car. Without a car, plans would be impossible. The streets do not encourage walking, and public transportation systems are extremely limited.

What do you wish would never change: Nothing! I love all the changes and developments in Qatar so far. Qatar has been progressing very quickly and becoming more modern every year.

Home is: Where my family and car is.

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Shiva Singh

Born: February 26, 1987

Profession: Digital marketing & Founder of TechView.me

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Since age 6

Annual residence permit renewal: November

Earliest Qatar Memory: Waiting for the school bus at 5:30am (MES Indian School); the Thursday evening dinner with family at Welcome Restaurant in Msheireb; visits to Al Bidda Park; getting new video games from New World Centre (Souq Nabina).

Those other places: Everything is so accessible – most of the things you need are always within a 5-10 minute drive. The one thing I wish Qatar was better at is being pedestrian friendly and have no-car zones, encouraging people to walk more.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Homemade food & how affordable everything is. Those late night drives and getting karak. The late opening hours of shops & restaurants. 

What must change here, now: Labour rights and the way labourers are treated by their employers. Pay discrimination based on nationality. Qatar also needs to become a lot more start-up friendly.

What do you wish would never change: Petrol prices!

Home is: Where the wifi connects automatically. Where the fridge is always full.

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Amr El Sherif

Born: February 15, 1994

Profession: Producer Assistant

Nationality: Egyptian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: May

Earliest Qatar Memory: My father taking me to Toys R Us when he saw me sitting alone in the house not doing much.

Those other places: Studying in Canada, I noticed that people’s race, ethnicity, nationality and religion did not influence who their group of friends were, unlike in Qatar where people are rather more segregated to their own group of friends depending on the previously mentioned factors.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Late night cruises with friends and chai karak.

What must change here, now: The hot weather.

What do you wish would never change: Qatar’s winter season.

Home is: where freedom exists.

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Zayne S Sayeed

Born: March 8, 1991

Profession: Project Executive

Nationality: Canadian passport, Iraqi heritage.

In Qatar since: Birth till 7 years, moved to Canada, back again at age 19.

Annual residence permit renewal: November

Earliest Qatar Memory: Going to the corniche, renting an electric toy car, and driving up and down the coast.

Those other places:  The strangest thing for me was seeing snow for the first time, I absolutely love snow.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: My father, because when we moved to Canada, my father stayed in the middle east region.

What must change here, now: The ability for expats to start their own business without such constricting regulations.

What do you wish would never change: I wish Aladdin’s Kingdom wasn’t turned into a hotel.

Home is: At this age, where I can make the most money.

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Malik Habayeb

Born: January 8, 1992

Profession: Research Assistant at Doha Institute

Nationality: Palestinian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: May

Earliest Qatar Memory: Riding my bicycle throughout the streets of the Old Airport area (where I grew up), playing street football with kids from the neighbourhood, and going to the Souq with my family every Friday afternoon.

Those other places: When I went away from Qatar, I was surprised by the distance between one place and another (although I must say Doha traffic makes up for it), the variety seen in landscape, weather, shopping and food outlets (again, which is compensated by the diversity of Qatar’s community).

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Hearing the Athan (call to prayer) almost anywhere and everywhere.

What must change here, now: Something we all ought to consistently aspire to do is treat people with dignity irrespective of nationality, faith, gender, or social status.

What do you wish would never change: The generosity and kindness of people and the view along the Corniche.

Home is: Where my family and loved ones are, where I yearn to return.

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Simone Meagan Desouza

Born: March 8, 1995

Profession: Journalism Intern

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: the age of 1

Annual residence permit renewal: December

Earliest Qatar Memory: Waiting for my school (Ideal Indian School) bus at 5.45 am outside my apartment in Mughalina

Those other places: When i went away from Qatar, i was surprised by the vastness and distance between places along with the change in culture – dressing style, accent, habits. Also, the fact that cars stopped for you to walk at the pedestrian crossing.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The luxury of everything being so easy – no long commute and no extravagant prices.

What must change here, now: The opportunities for youth need to be more widespread in Qatar, a country which is now booming and expanding at a rapid pace. The opportunities shouldn’t only start for students when they’re done with university, but right from school.

What do you wish would never change: The rate at which construction suddenly took over the entire country; it’s starting to look like Qatar will soon lose its Arabic heritage once this jungle of concrete buildings take over.

Home is: Where people who I connect on a deeper emotional level with are rather than just the acquaintances whom I meet infrequently.

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Asma Ahmed

Born: April 21, 1985

Profession: Freelance Make-up Artist

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: I was 2 months old

Annual residence permit renewal: March

Earliest Qatar Memory: Huge grounds where my siblings and I would play with our friends; longer routes were nice because there was not much traffic; watching Sesame Street and Art Attack, which were my favourite shows on QTV; shopping at Souq Nabina; visiting Aladdin’s Kingdom and Palm Tree Island; listening to Fauzia Rahman on QBS radio; Corniche every weekend and the Doha beach.

When I went away from Qatar, I was surprised by…: Life is very busy in Mumbai, not calm and luxurious like Doha, you have to struggle each day and I feel Doha is much safer.

When I went away what I missed most: Lazy Fridays, enjoying karak chai with friends, shawarmas, shisha and Ramadan celebrations

What must change…: Definitely the traffic, more greenery around, more fun events, sales and business opportunities for expats

What do you wish would never change: It’s hard to say as Qatar is changing and growing with the times, but to pick one, those would definitely be taxes! I hope we are never required to pay those.

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Hamdi Shoukath Abu Hussain

Born: October 15, 1988

Profession: Social Relations Officer at Qatar Football Association

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: March

Earliest Qatar Memory: When West Bay didn’t have towers, the Old Museum, Sheraton Hotel, Salam Plaza, Palm Tree Island, Post Office, Old Msheireb (boat roundabout), orange and white taxis, Aladdin Kingdom, Canon that fires right before Maghrib adhan in Ramadan at the Corniche, Eid shopping at Sana and New World Centre, when Al Meera was Al Muntaza Co-operative society, QTV, QCB building, Souq Aseiry Complex, Irani Souq (now Souq Waqif), Oryx roundabout, Crazy roundabout (now crazy signal), the traffic at Abu Hamour school rush hours, Young Times magazine.

Those other places: I was surprised by how people were not so conservative. There was freedom of speech/expression (among other list of ‘delusional’ freedom); pleasant weather, stronger work ethics, cordial relations between foreigners and locals, smiles from strangers. However, there was also lack of respect for women, higher crime rate, rampant consumption of alcohol and drugs, weak family relations.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: My family, friends and home. The food and karak. Celebrating Ramadan and Eid.

What must change here, now: Qatar being a country destined to reach greater heights must embrace and appreciate the people that work to run the place. Doha mustn’t  imitate Dubai, Doha is good being Doha.

What do you wish would never change: Back in the days, there were fewer people.  This meant getting things done at work/home/school was easier. I believed Qatar was the safest place on the planet then with zero crime rate. Qatar’s still relatively safe compared to its peers and other advanced countries.  However, the old sense of security is somehow missing.

Home is: Home is where you’ve lived all your life. You’ve got family; you’ve got friends and connections. Home is where you know the place inside out, top to bottom. No matter what part of the world you travel to, home is the place that you would be longing to get back to. Home is where the heart is.

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Dawood Mohammed Al-Anwari

Born: March 3, 1992

Profession: Graphic Designer and Game Producer

Nationality: Iranian

In Qatar since: I was six months old

Annual residence permit renewal: October

Earliest Qatar Memory: My dad taking us to Sanna’ theme park, and when I went on a school trip to Alladin’s Kingdom in the 3rd grade.

Those other places: The longest I’ve been away from Qatar was for a month, I’m always here. But I have visited a couple of countries and saw a lot of different cultures. The main difference I saw was in Cambodia – the citizens over there are the poor and weak ones, while the expats are rich and powerful. It was such a strange thing to see that Cambodians lived on the poor side of their own country, and actually work for the foreigners. I realised how grateful I should be to live in a rich country like Qatar and be one with the citizens.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Whenever I travel, I always miss the quiet streets at night and how everyone is always around you.

What must change here, now:  I wish they change the Qatari passport issuing laws, and start giving them to the people who deserve it, and I’m speaking on behalf of these people, because I am one of them.

What do you wish would never change: I wish that Qatar would never change its path and continue to become one of the best countries in the world.

Home is: Where I feel that I belong to, and where everyone around you supports you to reach your goals.

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Abhishek Jayaprakash

Born: February 1, 1984

Profession: Designer, Illustrator, Branding consultant

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: 1988

Annual residence permit renewal: October

Earliest Qatar Memory:  Going to the Corniche and the original old souk with my parents and kid brother in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Doha had a small-town charm to it then—it’s still there, but is gradually fading away.

Those other places: You only notice that small-town charm when you’ve lived elsewhere for a while. Living and working in India was an eye-opening experience. Being in a country of people that number well over a billion, you’re forced to reassess your personal issues against those that surround you.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The calm and my family. And more recently, the otherworldly quiet that the desert can be.

What must change here, now: Attitudes need to be adjusted in pace with the speed at which the country seems to want to grow. Thankfully, it’s happening, regardless of whether or not it is voluntary.

What do you wish would never change:  The peaceful pace of life here.

Home is:  Simaisma

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Mahmoud Jahami

Born: August 10, 1976

Profession: Entrepreneur

Nationality: Lebanese

In Qatar since: My father was about 18 when he first arrived in Doha where he was destined to meet my mother a number of years later – I’ll let you do the math.

Annual residence permit renewal: April

Earliest Qatar Memory: Childhood at Al Bidaa and the old Lebanese School at Jaidah flyover.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Serenity.

What must change here, now:  Us – we should learn how to adapt to the rapid transformation.

What do you wish would never change: Most of us are averse to change – I’ve learnt to embrace it.

Home is: When and where one unwinds in silence.

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Jorell Legaspi

Born: February 19, 1980

Profession: Head of Publications

Nationality: Filipino

In Qatar since: I was three years old

Annual residence permit renewal: October

Earliest Qatar Memory: View of the Corniche from the Sheraton Doha’s rooftop restaurant, Al Shaheen

Those other places: Population density and noise

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: My friends and activities at school. I was fortunate to have been brought up in a multicultural environment.

What must change here, now: Conservation of resources. There is an abundance of natural resources in Qatar that we often take for granted.

What do you wish would never change: The sea view from the Corniche

Home is: Where you feel the comfort and support of family and friends

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Hani Arif

Born: December 1, 1983

Profession: Retail change and controls assistant in a bank, and the Co-founder of Doha Tweetups

Nationality: Pakistani

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: February

Earliest Qatar Memory: Hail stones and large orange shaped juice stalls on the corniche.

Those other places: The strict rules that we complain about sometimes ensures our safety. In other countries, though developed, it’s hard to feel safe.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Never left Qatar.

What must change here, now: The bad driving habits from back home that people bring along when they come to Qatar.

What do you wish would never change: The calm.

Home is: Where the heart is… Seriously? Where one can kick back and relax.

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Hooriya Hussain

Born: September 13, 1991

Profession: Senior Account Executive

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: January

Earliest Qatar Memory: My father would get us samosas (fried Indian snack) in brown paper bags while we went shopping for vegetables at the market, which is now Souq Waqif. Every time we went to the General Post Office, the ride up through the steep parking gave me an adrenalin rush I will never forget. I watched Qatar TV (QTV) all my life and that probably explains my neutralised accent. Al Bidda Park, was my go-to spot. The sliding space in the park was my favourite, now I’m too big for it!

Those other places: I haven’t travelled much, but I found it easy to walk to places or hire a tuk tuk to go over long distances. It was easier to reach places, even if it was a big city! Doha is so small, but I need to plan a great deal to reach places, especially since I don’t drive.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Where can I start! I missed the cuisine, access to safe drinking water and properly packaged food.  Security for single women. Women are safer in Doha and regulations make it easy for us to have access to services. Living alone in India, I had to get used to being followed or harassed, it is so common – nobody cares.

What must change here, now: While it is great to see how Qatar is changing, so quickly. This has also changed the way people used to be. People can be very racist and inconsiderate. This also affects how pay scales are determined, preferences are given. It makes me very sad. An Indian is much likely to receive lower pay benefits for the same job his non-Asian colleague performs.

What do you wish would never change: I wish there were fewer cars in Doha. The traffic is growing exponentially, I miss the emptier roads. Back then, I only needed 15 to 20 minutes to go anywhere.

Home is: Any place I have access to mums food. I remember at university, my mother came to live with me for a few days. Coming back to my place to find a home cooked meal was innately therapeutic.

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Mayouf Rouf

Born: May 19, 1988

Profession: Senior Account Executive at Memac Ogilvy Public Relations

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: December

Earliest Qatar Memory: Farij Al Ghanem – the neighborhood, where we grew up. Beaches, Corniche, trips to Muntazah park, New World Centre (Souq Nabina), my old school at Abu Hamour.

Those other places: People! Lots of them. I left Qatar when it was at population of 800,000 and went to a city of 22 million people. I am still amazed by how an ocean of humans can co-habit together in one place and order in chaos, unravels.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Doha, family, friends. Cheap-fuel too. I think we have the best deal on that, compared to anywhere in the world.

What must change here, now: We are young nation and a work in progress in the right direction. I do wish the silos in which each nationalities box themselves into would fall down. Then we’d have this truly amazing society. Another aspect that must change would be easy and cost-effective access to Arabic language lessons for those who wish to learn. After all, language is the key to cultural understanding.

What do you wish would never change: That relaxed pace of life in the 90s. Where people would come back home for a break, siestas and then go back to work again. Times when you could reach the furthest parts of Doha in less than 25 minutes.  Times when phone numbers used to be 6 digits. I wish they would still wrap the palm trees with lights like they used to during Eid.

Home is: It’s a fluid concept. It could be anywhere. For me, I made home for myself in all the places I’ve lived before and still do go back and forth, between all of them.

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Omar Allouba

Born: October 17, 1986

Profession: Senior Sales Representative at Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing

Nationality: Egyptian

In Qatar since: November, 1986

Annual residence permit renewal: February

Earliest Qatar Memory: Going to ‘The Centre’ Mall on a Friday, followed by Pizza Hut (in Sterling Square) lunch.

Those other places: When I went away from Qatar, I was surprised by how ‘set in place’ every other city was. Places that were built a while back did not look like their infrastructure was going to change anytime soon whereas there wasn’t a place in Qatar, road or building, that wasn’t at risk of restructure or re-building.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The calm that came with living in Qatar; my time with friends in school.

What must change here, now: The sponsorship law makes no distinction between someone who’s lived here forever and someone who just came. This causes someone like me, who’s been in the country forever (literally), to feel like a stranger, when I love it probably as much as a citizen. The law should make a distinction.

Home is: Where I can sit with a family member or one of my close friends who I’ve known for over 10 years and just ‘be’ away from the traffic and the noise.

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Zeinab Hammoud

Born: August 18, 1991

Profession: Freelance PR Executive

Nationality: Lebanon

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: June

Earliest Qatar Memory: Orange and white coloured taxis. They were hilarious.

Those other places: Of all the countries I have been to, Qatar has the hottest weather. It’s crazy.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Security, safety.

What must change here, now: Qatar lacks proper communication. Back in Beirut by just riding the elevator with someone random, a conversation has to definitely take place. We need to open up a little bit more to each other, nationals and expatriates, and be more sociable.

Home is: A place where you can sleep and have no nightmares.

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Rasha Wajih Mkachar

Born: September 21, 1987

Profession: Freelancer, Business and Filmmaking industries.

Nationality: Lebanese

In Qatar since: A month after I was born

Annual residence permit renewal: January

Earliest Qatar Memory: Riding my bike on the Corniche; swimming and bowling at the Falcon Club.

Those other places: Qatar brings together all nationalities and cultures from around the world. Travelling to a country with a lack of cultural diversity feels strange.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: My friends and my lifestyle here.

What must change here, now: I’m sure this currently tops everyone’s list – the traffic and construction. Otherwise, I love Qatar as it is.

What do you wish would never change: My stay in Qatar.

Home is… Doha

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Nitin Ferdinand Jadhav

Born: September 25, 1985

Profession: Petroleum Engineer

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: June

Earliest Qatar Memory: My elder sister walking me up to school and teaching me to write my name. Also cycle rides on the Corniche which would usually end with my dad treating me to a nice chilled can of laban.

Those other places: When I went away from Qatar, I was surprised by the fact that commuting from point A to point B on foot was also an option.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Mom’s food. Also, knowing you have your parents to watch your back and a general feeling of safety.

What must change here, now: The never-finding-parking space scene. No decent bookstores in Qatar. This place definitely needs more bookstores.

What do you wish would never change: The way Ramadan and Eid are followed & celebrated here. Love those months of the year.

Home is… Where I feel safe, secure and have the freedom to just be myself. No pretense.

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Neha Ratti

Born: April 12, 1989

Profession: Financial Analyst

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: October

Earliest Qatar Memory: The family picnics to “Palm Tree Island” and the school trips to Aladdin Kingdom (used to be the only theme park with just one roller coaster).

Those other places: The strangest thing for me were the taxes and the struggle in other countries.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The luxurious lifestyle this country provides.

What must change here, now: A permanent residence permit for people born here, better customer service in all sectors and this preference of one nationality over another.

What do you wish would never change: Taxes! Should never have to pay it.

Home is… where I grew up making memories worth a lifetime.

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Mostafa Saeed Sheshtawy

Born: July 21, 1988

Profession: Engineering graduate

Nationality: Egyptian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: April

Earliest Qatar Memory: Going cycling to Pizza Hut that used to be in the middle of the corniche stretch, near Orry statue.

Those other places: It’s easier to strike a conservation with strangers. People are comfortable talking to each other

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The cosy atmosphere.

What must change here, now: Traffic and treatment of migrant workers.

What do you wish would never changed: I wish my old school building hadn’t been demolished.

Home is… where my bed is!

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Deliah Amira Roque

Born: March 2, 1981

Profession: Sales & Marketing Manager at ABODE & Qatar Happening

Nationality: Filipino

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: March

Earliest Qatar Memory: Garangao with neighbourhood kids and wet kisses from veiled Qatari women.

Those other places: I was surprised by how distant people had become.  I grew up knowing everyone in the neighbourhood personally and vice-versa –the shop keeper around the corner, the doorman at mom’s office, the manager at the local exchange, the tailor, the gardener etc.  Now, people rarely strike a smile. It is also very difficult to keep in touch with friends as everyone is just so busy.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The sunsets. Doha has beautiful sunsets that are so unique and somewhat peaceful in its own way.

What must change here, now: I feel currently there is a huge lack of understanding with so much change going on.  People in general haven’t had time to digestthe progression. This obviously requires a lot of time and patience both of which are acquired skills.

What do you wish would never changed: The authenticity of this great city.

Home is… Where my heart and spirit is happy!

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Nabil Al Nashar

Born: August 1, 1990

Profession: Radio presenter on QF Radio English and Arabic

Nationality: Egyptian

In Qatar since: 1995

Annual residence permit renewal: February

Earliest Qatar Memory: It’s got to be looking outside the car’s window during the sunrise. I must’ve been no more than 5. My family was driving my sister and me to spend the day with my grandfather at the Sheraton. The sun had that specific golden glare in it that was reflecting off of everything, making even the least noticeable objects that you would dismiss even when directly in your line vision, look so magical as if they came from some Asgardian realm. But the most glorious looking of them all was the Doha skyline. It was nowhere near as complete, high or staggeringly futuristic as it is today. But to my child eyes it looked mighty from that angle with that light.

Those other places: Lack of hospitality and certain mannerisms. That’s the one thing I instantly notice anywhere else I go.  And it’s not particularly something you get from the Qataris but you get it mostly from the Southeast Asian population that works within most of the service sectors.
In Qatar the people really try to make you feel at home. It’s not what they do for you as much as it’s how they do it It isn’t about smiling and saying: “Have a wonderful day”. It’s a lot more than that.

The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: After my friends and family, it is definitely my car and the general streets of Doha. It’s the fact that I have confidence in saying things like: “This is my town” or “I know the streets of this town like the back of my hands” that gives me some kind of solace and reassurance that I do and do NOT belong here at the same time.

What must change here, now: I don’t want the continuous fear of the future that I might not be here if for some reason my visa expires. I don’t want to be a Qatari either because I’m not. There are so many third culture kids like myself, who grew up in this town, yet we don’t have that security.

What do you wish would never changed: Karak at Corniche. I can’t lose that place.

Home is… the place of firsts, I always thought. It’s your first kiss, first love, first time driving a car, first time learning a bad word and go tell your friends about it because you thought it made you look cool. That’s what it’s all about.

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Abdul Rabb Fazal

Born: September 22, 1977

Profession: Self-employed contractor

Nationality: Pakistani

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: August

Earliest Qatar Memory: Going to Corniche early in the morning when it was still just a beach; visiting Al Khor garden; orange and white taxis ; watching my favourite cartoons on Channel 37 or Iftah Ya Sim Sim on the Arabic Channel.
Those other places… Even the villages are crowded. There’s greenery everywhere. I realised there are actually more than two season. But no one stops to help you out if you are stranded (here, almost everyone does).
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: My home and Ramadan. No other place is like Qatar during Ramadan.
What must change here, now: More entertainment and theme parks needed; enough malls already. Discrimination in all its aspects.
Home is… Where I can leave my door open at night and still sleep peacefully knowing that people I love are safe. Where I can never get lost. Where my family and friends are just a call away if I need them.

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Gazanfarulla Khan

Born: April 3, 1987

Profession: Aviator working as a Social Media Consultant

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: June

Earliest Qatar Memory: Visiting the Zoo which seemed to be very far from Doha back then; waiting for Friday when QTV would play Bollywood movies; visiting Aladdin Kingdom (where Katara is now) on a school trip. Those other places… I could enjoy the clear blue skies with not-so high temperatures and the sun hanging around the horizon till 9pm. A very diverse and open culture where I fitted in without any issues.
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The hospitality Qatar offered, the harsh summers and my circle of friends as I had called Doha home.
What must change here, now: Exploring new businesses and equality for expats in the country.
Home is… a person to me, rather than a place, to whom I would go back to always.

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Jehad Hamad

Born: November 22, 1989

Profession: 3D artist

Nationality: Palestinian with a Jordanian passport

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: December

Earliest Qatar Memory: I used to go to the park at Al Khor Park with my family or cousins. We used to spend the whole day there playing football.
Those other places… I did my higher studies in Sharjah, UAE. There’s an even more diverse crowd in UAE. I also felt the locals were more approachable.
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The Corniche. In UAE, the corniche is blocked by building/towers, so you don’t get a good view of it while driving unlike here in Qatar.
What must change here, now: The kafala system for expats. It’s quite strict.
Home is: where I feel secure.

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Reema Venkataramakrishnan

Born: November 30, 1989

Profession: Marketing

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: December

Earliest Qatar Memory: Going to the sand dunes with my family; camping out in the open and sleeping under the stars.
Those other places… When I was growing up in Qatar, I had to depend on my parents to drop and pick me up every time I went out, but in Mumbai, kids start travelling by public transport at a very early age and become extremely self-sufficient in that sense.
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The luxury of living in this country. Everything from air-conditioners everywhere to being able to take long drives without having to worry about how much petrol you are using.
What must change here, now: I think we should have more dog-friendly zones in Qatar, parks and recreation areas for pets.
Home is… Where I can get go and just be.

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Nezar Abdel Hadi

Born: October 20, 1988

Profession: Digital Account Executive

Nationality: Jordanian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: June

Earliest memory of Qatar: Going to the dunes to with my father to watch the rally.
Those other places… When I went to Lebanon for higher studies, I felt people were very nosy. But later on I figured it was the people in Qatar who kept to themselves a lot.
The thing I’d missed the most about Qatar: My family and friends.
What must change here, now: The traffic management.
Home is… a place where I can do anything without being judged by anyone.

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Fadi Sulaiman

Born: July 27, 1990

Profession: Sales & Marketing Executive

Nationality: Syrian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: January

Earliest Memory of Qatar: Playing with my sister in the yard, she kept following me, while I just wanted to get away
Those other places… People in other countries start working earlier in life than they do here and become financially independent at an earlier age. I have friends here who are even older than me, and they’re still getting an allowance from their parents.
The thing I’d missed the most about Qatar: I missed living at home with my parents and not having to think about the responsibilities that I had while I was away.
What must change here, now: It would be nice if we could all have more affordable places to go to, get to easily, and do something fun. Also, I wish the government would develop the other cities and towns in Qatar, which would hopefully reduce traffic in Doha.
Home is… a place you feel that you belong in and prosper and grow into while learning from your experiences.

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Aakash Jayaprakash

Born: August 21, 1988

Profession: Research Associate, Migrant Worker Welfare Initiative

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: October

Earliest Qatar Memory: I used to go to the Corniche with my family very often. I learnt how to ride a bicycle there. There used to be this large orange shaped juice stall in the middle of the Corniche that my brother and I would walk to and get drinks. They should bring it back!
Those other places… While living in Washington, I enjoyed being an anonymous face in the city. Being Indian in the US was more interesting than being Indian here (there are so many of us!).
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: There was no place I could go for my delicious Sarooq chicken shawarma, and had to settle for pita rolls masquerading as falafel sandwich.
What must change here, now: Equal pay for equal work in all jobs. Pay discrimination for non-Qataris make no sense, as everyone has the same cost of living here.
Home is… Wherever my family is, and I can feel comfortable enough to not care about a thing.

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Mays Ibrahim

Born: July 11, 1989

Profession: Accountant

Nationality: Jordanian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: June

Earliest Qatar Memory: Going to the Corniche with my family. It looked so different back then.
Those other places… The weather in Jordan is so pleasant. When I went there for higher studies, I had to take care of so many responsibilities that I never had to bother about when I was in Qatar.
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The beautiful view of the Corniche while driving.
What must change here, now: The cost of living. The prices of commodities have increased so much in the past years.
Home is: where my family and friends are.

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Sukanya Seshadri

Born: March 27, 1987

Profession: Reporter

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: six-months old

Annual residence permit renewal: February

Earliest Qatar Memory: Watching Sesame Street on QTV; family weekend trips to Dukhan; reading Roald Dahl and others at the Falcon Club library; the lion at the Doha Zoo.
Those other places… Being away from Qatar, some of the things that I experienced (many for the first time) were: actual blue skies; walking on streets with the sun only nearing the horizon at 10.30pm; enjoying -33 Celsius weather; seeing cherry blossoms bloom every spring; live music performances.
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The peaceful afternoons in Doha and the view of the sea from along the Corniche strip.
What must change here, now: The traffic and the light pollution and a little more urban planning might be nice…
Home is… My 22-year-old apartment in Muntazah, where I’ve spent all those years loathing 6am wake-ups for school, doing homework, turning thirteen etc.

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Rawan Mkashar

Born: August 15, 1991

Profession: Production Assistant

Nationality: Lebanese

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: January

Earliest Qatar Memory: Our old home and the Falcon Club in Rumailah where we used to do all sorts of indoor and outdoor activities, visiting Qatar Post, picnics on the Corniche and trips to Dukhan.
Those other places… Back in Lebanon, you can sip a hot cup of tea while sitting on a balcony enjoying the weather and watching as people pass by, kids playing under the building, and if you’re up in the mountains you’ll be able to get a gorgeous top shot view of the city and the sea. It’s easier to enjoy outdoor activities through the year.
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: My family and home, as well as the cultural diversity.
What must change here, now: More greenery around homes, driving here could get dangerous, and it would add more to the country if old places could be revived.
Home is… that cosy place where my family and friends are.

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Haneen Al Sharif

Born: June 14, 1989

Profession: Graphic designer

Nationality: Palestinian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: February

Earliest Qatar Memory: Playing on the Corniche and spending my Fridays there.
Those other places… Qatar has a more family-oriented society as compared to the West.
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: The safe and cosy atmosphere of the country.
What must change here, now: I think adapting to new technologies and systems at a faster pace would help Qatar to grow faster and be a more diverse country.
Home is… where I feel that I can express myself freely and love the society and the people around me.

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Sarah Mahmoud

Born: October 22, 1990

Profession: Account Executive

Nationality: Jordanian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: February

Earliest Qatar Memory: Playing on the Corniche with my siblings, and having barbeque nights there.
Those other places… Studying in the UAE had opened my eyes to a great cultural diversity. Also, in UAE, I think people are more open to new ideas especially in terms of business.
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Ramadan in Qatar, and my mother’s food. Celebrating Ramadan in UAE doesn’t have the same magic like that in Qatar.
What must change here, now: Discrimination towards certain nationalities.
Home is: where family is.

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Zakaria Mansour

Born: November 18, 1987

Profession: Graphic designer

Nationality: Palestinian with a Lebanese passport

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: June

Earliest Qatar Memory: Watching the military demonstration along the Corniche road as a kid.
Those other places… I completed University in Lebanon. But I don’t think there’s peace and security like Qatar anywhere else.
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: My home in Wakrah, and family.
What must change here, now: Traffic. It’s crazy.
Home is: where I feel safe and happy, where my friends and family are.

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Tamara Anwar

Born: February 16, 1983

Profession: Copywriter

Nationality: Palestinian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: September

Earliest memory of Qatar: The Centre was the only shopping mall that I used to go to every Thursday, though it was always crowded, I used to enjoy shopping there with my friends.
Those other places… You don’t see black (abaya) and white (thobes) elsewhere. People are a lot more colourfully dressed.
The thing I’d missed the most about Qatar: Clean roads, peace of mind, safety and luxury.
What must change here, now: Entertainment options in Qatar. We need more.
Home is… Where you feel safe.

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Fares Shokair

Born: May 20, 1987

Profession: Architect

Nationality: Syrian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: June

Earliest memory of Qatar: Walking on the Corniche with my family
Those other places… The weather. It’s so hot in Qatar. Back home the weather is pleasant. It’s nice to walk outside.
The thing I’d missed the most about Qatar: My school friends and family. Also, my swimming pool at the JBK compound.
What must change here, now: The traffic can get crazy in Doha. I wish they would find a way to reduce congestion.
Home is… a place which has my memories and my dreams.

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Cassey Oliveira

Born: November 11, 1988

Profession: Senior Reporter

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: June

Earliest memory of Qatar: My time at the nursery which was just opposite my apartment building in Mansoura. And when my mother would come to collect me, it was almost every day that I would force her to take me to the neighbourhood grocery store to buy chocolates.
Those other places… Life in Mumbai is completely different. It’s crowded and noisy. There are people everywhere. The strangest thing for me was to use public transport.
The thing I’d missed the most about Qatar: The multicultural aspect of the country.
What must change here, now: Rather than malls, there should be more souqs around the city. It’s nice to walk through places like Souq Waqif rather than high-end malls where you end up buying nothing.
Home is… where family and friends are, where beautiful memories are, and where you feel safe.

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Fadi Darweesh

Born: May 22, 1988

Profession: Senior Account Executive

Nationality: Jordanian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: April

Those other places…There’s more outdoor activity. People actually walk to places they want to go to. If it’s too far they take public transportation.
The thing I’d missed the most about Qatar: Bandar beach, where the panoramic view of Doha skyline displays the entire history of the country in less than 30 seconds.
What must change here, now: The mentality of people – both expats and locals. They need to be more grounded and not take luxurious and comfortable life we lead for granted.
Home is… the place I know inside out, where I can tell what people think or how they will act without much effort. A place that I wouldn’t replace with anything else no matter what.

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Shrikala Kashyap

Born: May 16, 1989

Profession: Programme Producer for a local radio station

Nationality: Indian

In Qatar since: Birth

Annual residence permit renewal: March

Earliest Qatar Memory: Waking up at 5am on Friday mornings, packing breakfast and hitting the dunes with friends and family.
Those other places… The vibrant, super competitive life and atmosphere outside of Qatar. It made me realise what a protected childhood I had!
The thing I’d missed most about Qatar: Falafels from Petra restaurant and mint Shisha.
What must change here, now: I wish people here didn’t stereotype as much. Also, I wish sales happened more often!
Home is… As a third culture kid, home could be anywhere, anyplace, with anyone. Home for me, is a state of mind.

Persons : 42

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