Anyone living in Doha with kids?

(44 Posts)
Cathpot Thu 15-Sep-11 18:44:11

Hoping there are some mumsnetters out in Qatar- my husband has a job interview coming up in Doha and if he gets it we would all move. I am in the slightly odd position that my parents were expats there in the 1980s so I was at the Doha College until I was 13, and later on we were in the UAE. This means I kind of know what's coming and I am also completely out of date. I am now a secondary teacher and have 2 DDs, one in reception and one in year 2. I would be interested in any input really but particularly school places for the girls, chances of local hire as a teacher, accomodation situation, is the sailing club any good.... How restrictive does it feel nowadays- bearing in mind I realise it's not Dubai etc

Thank you!

Cathpot Fri 16-Sep-11 18:22:43

bumping

realise the answer might just be
'no'

LynnCSchreiber Fri 16-Sep-11 20:15:34

There is a MNetter who is in the process of moving there at the moment.

Kiwinyc Tue 27-Sep-11 18:07:48

i nearly moved there with an 8 and 5yo this August but pulled out at the last minute. The main hassle is getting a place at a decent school, we had places for ours (yr 1 and yr 4) at Sherborne (Which we accepted, DH's work was paying) and DESS (the latter is v. popular because it is cheap) but thats also because our applications went in in Jan this year.

I'd say chances of a local hire are very good. But we elected not to move in the end as DH who has been there since Nov last yr, has an opportunity to continue working for his co. in Doha, but be based in Europe, pos. London from next yr so it wasn't worth it for us all to move in the end.

yummybunny Mon 03-Oct-11 12:50:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Try not to be a local hire, you get a really bum deal, lower salary and less benefits. Check out www.teachanywhere.com, they have a UK office and one in Dubai but cover the majority of the world.

Also www.expatwoman.com have a forum and a section on Qatar. We havefriends there and most of them seem quite happy with a good social life. cheap enough to come across to Dubai for weekends for shopping food and alcohol.

mrsmummy84 Thu 06-Oct-11 08:39:22

Hi! I'm in Qatar and although I don't have kids yet, I have one on the way (due December).

I can try and answer some of your questions for you;

Schools - I would recommend contacting Park House and DESS first off. I know some of the teachers there and they are lovely people and enjoy working there and the kids seems bright too!

Accomodation - prices are on the increase, so I would recommend looking for a villa fairly quickly once you get here. Is your DH's company putting you up in the mean tmie?

Chances of local hire - good for a teacher, but I would stronly recommend you DON'T apply to Cambridge - everyone I know that's worked there has had an extremely rough time and left very very fast. Try Doha College and search online. Once you're here you'll get to hear of more schools and plenty of teachers as well. It's very much a case of not what you know, but who you know here.

Sailing Club - can't help on that one I'm afraid

Restrictive - not at all. As long as you dress sensibly you'll be just fine. Knees and shoulders are the minimum requirements.

Once you arrive and get settled, I'd recommend looking at joining Doha Mums (http://www.dohamums.com). It will be a great way for you and your girls to meet people.

For more information, you can also look at www.qatarliving.com. It can be negative, but don't let that dissuade you. It's more Qatar specific and a good way to find second hand cars and furniture if you need it.

If you need any more info, don't hesitate to ask!

UmPixie Thu 06-Oct-11 14:10:26

Hello Cathpot
we're just preparing to move out to Doha, DH moving in 2 weeks and my 1 dds and are are going for a recce visit in half term
big issue is indeed school places, and that's going to be my main focus for the half term visit, other than that, I too am totally out of date as was working there 12 years ago but DH has been going out for short trips pretty regularly so feel like i might have a handle on the general changes,
have to confess to being truly hopeless at keeping on top of mumsnet threads so do feel free to DM if i go quiet, and i'll try and give a full report post reconnasisance in early Nov

FellatioNelson Thu 06-Oct-11 21:45:29

Well I have just arrived today, although my children are quite large and hairy so I am not sure how much use they would be to you, but I pour a mean cocktail, and we have just invested in a very large barbecue if that helps. grin Come on over.

nestee Mon 10-Oct-11 14:57:55

Hi everyone, I am brand new to mumsnet; I joined just so that I could find out as much as I can about Qatar. My (I believe I should refer to him as DH??) has had a job offer and is dead keen to go for it. My initial reaction was NO WAY, but he has persuaded me to promise that I would at least think about it so I am now gathering as much info as I can. Very excited to find that some of you are there already and can let me know the facts rather than leaning on my prejudices. I have 2 children; the boy is 9 and an 11 year old daughter. My main worries are - what are the schools like? how much freedom would I have as a woman? what is there to do all day on my own? (worried I will turn to alcohol in a big way) and everything else!! HELP

FellatioNelson Mon 10-Oct-11 19:08:52

Hello nestee, welcome to MN. I am not the best person to advise as I have only been in Doha a few days myself, but there are a surprising amount of MN members in the Gulf states. For more specific and in depth info you should try looking on expatwoman.com or qatarliving.com, but to be honest, the people on here will give you much friendlier and more personal advice. Questions on the expat boards don't always get answered with much enthusiasm - I suppose they get asked the same things day in, day out! But it is good to use the forums to search for answers to specific things, like schools, housing compounds etc. Loads of info on there. The trouble is, by the time you've read them all, good and bad, you are none the wiser!

As far as personal freedoms go, as a married woman with children I will assume you lead a fairly quiet and blameless life, so you shouldn't really have any issues with 'freedoms' - just do as you always do! (so long as it doesn't include dancing in your underwear on bars in public places, or regularly getting steaming drunk and falling into the gutter.) grin

nestee Mon 10-Oct-11 21:12:24

Thanks FellatioNelson, I do tend to keep the dancing on bars stictly to the weekends obviously! No my steaming drunk days are long gone. Now I am a 'have a glass on wine and fall asleep on the sofa' type. By freedoms I was thinking about an awful story I heard about a woman who was abused in the street just for being out on her own.

How have you found things so far? Is it REALLY hot? Is your house nice? Are you missing the British Autumn? smile

FellatioNelson Tue 11-Oct-11 08:02:35

Well I personally would be very careful about where I went on my own. I think the areas where the locals (ie. Qataris) and professional expats hang out are all very safe, but some of the places mostly frequented by male immigrant labourers are not places to go alone, but to be honest you would not really want to, or have need to.

The thing is, they are away from women for years on end, living and working in grim conditions in vile labour camps, and they never get within 20 feet of a woman, never mind a very pale skinned uncovered one, and they will stare and try to get close if they can - and sometimes worse, I have heard. They tend to come from very conservative and traditional communities back home, where only one kind of woman would put herself in their midst voluntarily anyway....

But TBH apart from when they are working in the streets etc, they are kept very much segregated. They are not allowed to even enter the malls for example. shock There is a real apartheid thing here, but I thing it is more of a class/cast thing than purely ethnicity, and I think the reasoning is that it is for the comfort and safety of the women, who want to go about their business without being subjected to leering. It's still hard to get your head around though, coming from the UK.

Having said all that, this is info I have picked up through holidaying with relatives who have lived in the Emirates for years, and through my own research. As I said before, I am no expert yet, so someone might come along and tell me I am talking out of my arse!

I read that it was not done to show your knees or elbows, yet almost all expats do, without any problems. It is only really necessary to be more observant/respectful during Ramadan, although I would temper that by saying be mindful of where you are, and who you are with, and dress accordingly. A short sleeved T shirt would be fine, a spagetti strapped cropped top would not be fine. In the same way that I pull a cat's bum face at seeing young uncouth men parading their bare sweaty chests around town centres in the UK on a hot day, they find it unnecessary and unpleasant if you go 'too far'.

Yes, it's very hot, but not unbearably so. I have arrived at just the right time apparently! My house is really lovely, even if it does look like war torn Beruit as soon as you step outside the compound walls. Dohas is a manic sprawl of rapid urbanisation, and I think in another 5 years it will be on a par with Dubai, so now is a good time to come. It has everything, but not too much of everything, IYSWIM.

I am sure I will miss the seasons very much, but only in the same way as when I am in the UK in February I yearn for warmth and sunshine.

So far it's all good, except the driving. I just CANNOT get my head around the collective mentality that causes them to drive the way they do. I am going to have to get to grips with it though, or I'll end up a prisoner in my own home. I think it will be a place where, in oder to stay sane and not get depressed, you either need to work, throw yourself into a hobby, or throw yourself into socialising, because even for me there is only so much shopping mall wandering and spa-visiting that can be done.

nestee Tue 11-Oct-11 18:55:19

This is brilliant, exactly the kind of thing that I need to hear about in order to make an intelligent decision. Its the everyday stuff that makes things more real isn't it. Have you found a hobby yet?

FellatioNelson Wed 12-Oct-11 10:28:12

Well, no not yet - I'm still trying to unpack and sort out the house! And my kids are not in school yet. The first few weeks will be hectic and full of dull but necessary stuff (for example this morning I had to go and get a blood sample and chest x-ray done for my resident's permit) but I am sure by Christmas I will be able to find plenty of fun stuff to throw myself into. I have a thread running here which might give you some insight into what it has been like for me being a newbie Doha expat. Hope that helps. smile

FellatioNelson Wed 12-Oct-11 10:37:51

nestee what does your DH do?

nestee Wed 12-Oct-11 21:15:02

Oh thanks, I'll have a look at your other thread. My DH is a director of communications in the NHS. Apparently the Qatari's are recruiting NHS executives to teach them how to set up their own health service. Or something.

bedubabe Thu 13-Oct-11 19:03:54

Hey just thought I'd wade in. Long term Dohaite with two kids.

General tip on school / nursery / children type questions is www.dohamums.com. You can join on a reccie visit or you can just email in questions and they'll get answered.

In response to the OP
1) You won't recognise Doha since the 80s (although Doha College and the Rugby Club are still there)
2) School places are very difficult although there's a new American curriculum school (ACS) that's opened up that I think generally has places. I'd strongly suggest you check schools, prices (don't know if DH is getting an education allowance, if he isn't school fees will really eat at your money) and availability before you commit to a job. You can try but you pretty much have zero chance of getting a place at DESS, Park House or Doha College until the next academic year (and it'll be long odds even then).
3) easy to get local hire as a teacher but as others have said better paid if you can do it internationally. The 'main' schools with secondary are Doha College, Sherborne (be aware that the parents rave about this school which I am assured means it's a difficult place to work!), ACS, ASD, ISL and Park House. Gulf English might have too. There will be others I'm sure.
4) Sailing club. I haven't ever been but I know people who are members. It's meant to be very good for dingy sailing but that's it. There are precious few decent sized boats here (you can hire colgates) probably mainly because it's not partic exciting sailing.
5) Women? I don't find it that restrictive but then I'm used to it. Where you here in the period in the 80s where alcohol was banned? If so, it's less restrictive now. As Fellatio says: cover knees and shoulders and you'll be fine.

FellatioNelson Fri 14-Oct-11 05:01:51

I would be interested in looking at Sherbourne, but it's a bit of a trek from my house and I've just come from somewhere in the UK where I had the school run from hell - I don't really want another one! I'm closer to PH and DC, but as you say BB there may not be much of a choice anyway. It's take what you're offered and be grateful, I think. Budget and journey times are the last of our worries!

bedubabe Fri 14-Oct-11 11:00:26

I don't know how far progressed the secondary is yet Fellatio. I seem to remember you're looking for GCSE level? Sherborne is only about 3 years old and they usually add a secondary year per year if you see what I mean.

FellatioNelson Fri 14-Oct-11 14:58:26

Yes, two of the kids on my compound go there - it is only up to year 8 or 9 at the moment I believe, and as the top year gets older, so it goes up. It would be ok for one of mine but not the other - he is already too old.

I am delighted to have found this thread, as I'm considering trying for teaching jobs in the middle east (Gulf English are hiring, but that's just one of many) and DH is also a teacher. We've got a 1 year old DS and contemplate having one more, maybe spending 5ish years in the middle east as a stepping stone to coming back to Blighty (we're currently teachers in the USA, but British citizens) .... and yeah, I am trying to work out what daily life is like, is 'help' (I mean a nanny I suppose) prohibitively expensive, that sort of thing. So this is handy, do keep us updated Fellatio smile

FellatioNelson Fri 21-Oct-11 05:38:30

Well compared to 'help' in the UK or the US (I imagine!) it is very very cheap to have full-time live-in staff here. I am currently paying £6 per hour for a cleaner, through an agency, and although it is cheaper than the UK, it is not that much cheaper, all things considered. But most of the money goes into the pocket of the agency owner, not the cleaning lady. I could have someone live in and work 6 days a week (not that I want her to work 6 days a week, but it is very much the norm here, and to give them another day off can be quite frowned upon I have heard, as it sets an unwelcome precedent confused) for anything from £200-350 per month, depending entirely on her nationality. hmm

The thing about 'nannies' here is that many of them are not trained formally in childcare as they would be at home - they are merely maids/helpers who perhaps have children and (therefore some experience) of their own. If you are fine with that then it's a bargain, but if you want the security of a properly trained childcare professional then you must expect to pay a higher rate. It will still be relatively cheap compared to home though.

Also, on top of their salaries you are expected to help them out with food costs, flights home, clothing etc, but I am not sure how people work out exactly what they pay for.

FellatioNelson Fri 21-Oct-11 05:39:10

Oh, and by flight home, I believe they expect to be 'allowed' to go home once every two or three years. shock

That's helpful info, thanks fellatio. I have a feeling that the middle east is one of the few places (also teacher) DH and I will be gainfully employed at the same time in the next few years, what with cuts in England... so I am very tempted, specially as I think we will have a reasonable quality of life, which we would not in the UK. DH is less convinced, he hates heat and he hates sexism, and thinks the gulf might be a big ol' combination of the two.... it's so hard to know!

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