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Clothes for family moving to Doha - definitive guide?!

(39 Posts)
socmonster Mon 13-Feb-17 17:19:02

Hi all

Would really appreciate a bit of advice from any mums in Qatar on what to bring clothing wise for myself and kids when we move to Doha in June!

I'll have a 4 month old daughter and 4 year old son. I've read a lot about how cold it can get with the a/c, so for the baby would I still be looking at babygros and vests when in doors? In the cooler months I'm thinking cardigans or would a coat be recommended? Would she ever need to wear tights? (She already has about ten pairs and not even born yet!) And for sleeping, will it be cool enough for sleeping bags/ Grobags? Any other words of advice on baby front? OT but terrified about all the tiled floors out there when she starts walking ! 😖😖

DS is probably a bit more straight forward! I'm presuming t shirt, shorts and crocs are pretty much a staple? Would he wear long sleeve t shirts at all in the winter? Jeans and coat? I've read in a few places that children's shoes are v expensive - do ppl recommend bringing the next couple of sizes with them?

And for me - think I've gotten my head round what the safest options are - maxi dresses, linen trousers, boleros, pashminas....any other suggestions I'd be grateful of! My main concern though is swimwear. While I'll be happy not to attempt a bikini for quite a while after having the baby, what are the rules around Western women and swimwear? Is it okay within confines of compound? Are there any beaches where it is permitted? What about public pools or water parks? Are men OK in just swim shorts while I'm on the topic?

I'm sure I'll pick all this up when I get there, but I really want to build up a picture of what we're going over to - as well as knowing what to pack! 🙂🙂

Thanks in advance for any advice - a lot of questions there I know 😜 X

InTheDessert Tue 14-Feb-17 16:52:06

I'm over the boarder, in the conservative place!!!
My tuppence worth in the absence of other replies....
Layers for the AC.
If you move in June, you are going to get a shock. It's HOT, and will remain so all summer. I tend to wear linen trousers and longer sleeved cotton tops (Uniqulo linen tunics). Saves sunscreening everywhere!! Kids live in knee length shorts and teeshirts and sandals. Bring all in one UV suits for the pool for the kids. I wear a standard costume, with a rash top, again more for sun protection than coverage. I have seen standard costumes in water parks in Bahrain. Swim nappies are hard to find, consider stocking up on reusable for the pool, or at least checking the Qatar supply situation of swim nappies.

Out and about, for me it's an abaya. You will avoid this, but be careful with v-necks and tight tops. On compound, anything goes. But, as mentioned, I cover purely to avoid the sun and creaming everywhere!!!
Bring sun hats!
Bring Tampax (or invest in a menstral cup).
Bring sunscreen!
Bring bras is you are anything other than M&S standard range size.

It's been COLD this winter. And by that, we have had jeans and jumpers out, sandals have been put away in favour of socks and closed shoes. Locals have hat, gloves, UK style winter coats, ear warmers.....My UK waterproof jacket has been much admired this week (it last rained in november, before that it was Feb 2015). But cold is relative. It's cool first thing, say 10-15C, but still gets above 20 during the day. Think Doha is warmer....
Think about clothing when you visit the UK. Manchester airport at 6am in December with just a jumper isn't the best plan!!

We cool the house to 25 in the summer. Baby may get use from a summer weight bag once you are used to the temperatures. I slept under a sheet the first summer, 4tog duvet after that. Not had a tiny baby here. They seem to wear quite a lot of clothes.... Maybe dump the vests, but keep the babygrow??

DH needs to wear shorts below the knee, or trousers. I don't know about Qatar. Also consider you will be arriving during Ramadan. Everything here gets more conservative during the holy month. You may need to be extra careful initially, I don't know how enforced it is in Qatar.

Hopefully you will get a country specific answer soon, but if not, I can do ME answers. Happy Packing!!

PS bring English books in bulk!

socmonster Tue 14-Feb-17 18:06:46

Thank you so much Inthedessert, very helpful. Swim nappies was something I'd never thought of - thanks for the prompt!

habibihabibi Wed 15-Feb-17 17:26:20

I'm in Doha. My advice is bring sun hats for everyone , washable swim nappies , plenty of kids swimwear & towels and stock up on supermarket cheap kids clothes as the sun plus being constantly in the washing machines ruin them .
I buy lots of my children's clothes online from NEXt who deliver here in 3 days . British and USA branded clothing bought locally can be double the price of the U.K .

habibihabibi Wed 15-Feb-17 17:34:46

Western swimwear is fine at the pool, waterpark ,hotels and most beaches .
At Katara beach women need to wear shorts and a rashvest minimum .

The government offices ( of which you will spend much of your first few months in ) insist on full arm and leg coverage for both men and women .

A bit of bad news is you will now need to sit your drivers license here whereas it was previously you could be granted it automatically if you had a UK one .

socmonster Thu 16-Feb-17 07:40:15

Thanks for the response. Very useful... So annoying about driver's license, hadn't heard that at all. Nervous enough about driving over there to be honest without the added stress of a test.

Does it cost much to get things delivered over there? Next is my shop of choice for baby stuff : )

habibihabibi Fri 17-Feb-17 06:09:48

It's free for orders over 30 or 40 quid and its couriered so comes to your door rather than your PO Box.
Lots of UK companies deliver but don't match NEXT on postage price or speed .

qate Wed 15-Mar-17 11:47:39

I'm currently in Qatar - have tried to answer some questions below, but if you have any other questions then fire away!

Re the kids - as others have said, June will be incredibly hot when you arrive though it will be a dry heat. July/August is when the humidity will kick in and will last until around early/mid September. Absolutely fine for the oldest one to be in shorts/t-shirt/crocs etc. We've had a reasonably cool winter so I'd also recommend jeans/jumpers/long sleeved t-shirts and a light waterproof jacket (it doesn't rain much, but it can be very heavy) although you shouldn't need to think about that until around November. With the baby, should be fine - we have stocked up on short and long sleeve babygros and sleep suits, and cardigans etc. Yes to the shoes, depending on luggage - you'll find that a lot of things here are more expensive.

Until you get used to the temperature it may be worth bringing out a Gro-egg - it can be quite difficult to judge temperature indoors, esp with the aircon on at home. Bear in mind as well that during winter, the temperature drops and apartments/villas in compounds don't have central heating so your main options are to layer up or purchase a small portable heater. Do you have any idea where you will be staying in terms of accommodation (apartment/villa/hotel)?

We have a little one arriving soon - tile floors are also a bit of a concern! We're planning on putting down a couple of decent rugs to take the edge off when the baby is still non-mobile. For older children, a lot of friends seem to use the foam playmats - not always too attractive but they do the job.

Re clothes for you, you're pretty much bang on. I tend to live in dresses or jeans most of the year round - t-shirts, cardigans or shawls in summer, and jumpers/tshirts in winter. The best approach is shoulders/knees covered and nothing too revealing. You will find a vast difference particularly in how women dress here, but I've generally opted for a more conservative approach. If you're in one of the 5* hotels for a pool day/brunch, dress code tends to be much more relaxed. Bikinis generally fine on hotel beaches/pools; I'd generally avoid on the public areas (Katara, or if you go up the coast to one of the other beaches).

I echo Next for delivery - also New Look are very good, and I've found just as fast as Next (free standard delivery of six days if you spend over GBP55, and free express delivery of 2-4 days if you spend over GBP75). I actually prefer New Look for some things as you can order sale items whereas with Next you generally only get the full price items - although nothing available on New Look for babies. Either way, both are much much cheaper than buying here.

Amazon (mainly UK but also US) also deliver here - you pay for shipping but they discount prices by VAT so it often works out as being the same price as you would have paid in the UK (and about half of what you'd pay here) - and as the exchange rate is so heavily weighted towards Qatar at the moment, it makes things even more reasonable when ordering from abroad.

Zimmerzammerbangbang Thu 16-Mar-17 19:21:38

Just wanted to add that mine actually wear/wore (no longer in Qatar but in the GCC) long sleve t-shirts a lot but in summer not winter. You have to find the lighter cotton ones.

I think my kids have owned one jumper each for most of their lives. We do seem to have a few more at the moment but I think that's because of a recent trip to the UK. I had to teach both of them how to put on socks when they started school smile

I'm also going to say what everyone else doesn't seem to have said - why are you moving in June? At the end of June a very high proportion of mums (pretty much everyone who doesn't work) heads out of Doha for the summer. You will find it difficult to meet people and the heat is horrible. It's also going to be Ramadan so no eating or drinking in public, odd opening hours (soft play areas will generally only be open in the evening for example) and no coffee shops or restaurants open.

Obviously if you will be starting a job and have to go, you have to go. However, if you won't be working and are moving for your husband's job (which applies to about 90% of women in Qatar) then I would really recommend staying in the UK over the summer and moving out in September.

Zimmerzammerbangbang Thu 16-Mar-17 19:22:43

I say this as someone who has always worked and so has now done 10 summers in the GCC (and who moved out in June the first time round).

socmonster Sun 09-Apr-17 18:06:02

Thanks everyone for your replies. Very late getting back onto this after giving birth/trying to sell house etc!..

Thanks for all the info re. clothes and shipping. Good to know.

Zimmerzammer - that is a question I've asked myself a lot too. To be honest since having the baby I'm starting to consider staying until September. Arriving in the height of summer is probably sheer madness.One of the main reasons for going then was to have a look around schools and arrange assessments for my son who'll be starting reception in September. However, the dates for arriving are still a bit up in the air so there's no guarantee we'd even make it before schools closed for the summer. What to do?!
So Is Doha really that deserted June-Aug?

Thanks again for the replies.

Athome77 Sun 09-Apr-17 21:09:09

Have lived in other GCC countries not Doha, but from experience I would start applying for schools now even if you don't know when you will arrive.

Zimmerzammerbangbang Mon 10-Apr-17 09:16:56

Congratulations on the baby!

You need to apply for schools now. You can't wait until you arrive.There's been another thread on here recently recommending schools but the best ones will already be full for September for reception. Kings might not be because it's new. DC and DESS will be (but you can always waitlist).

Doha is dead July and August and in particular is dead of stay at home parents (almost universally mums) with young kids. Any kids still in town will generally have two working parents and so there will be very little going on during the day. Some stay at home mums do stick around but honestly it's going to be hard. Give yourself a break and come at the end of August..

To put the heat in context, I'm in a nearby country. I went out to collect something from a driver earlier without putting shoes on and was hopping from foot to foot because the pavement was too hot to walk on barefoot. That's mid April and it's meant to get to 40 today.

JoandMax Mon 10-Apr-17 12:20:00

Socmonster - we moved to Doha a few months ago now, as well as what previous have said you definitely need to get applying for schools asap. The few good schools here generally have an assessment and waiting list and may be closed during the summer break so you need to get that sorted in term time really. Have a look at DESS, DC, Park House and King's College. Reception is always a pretty full year but there's always movement so best to get your names down early.

We've been in the ME for last few years and the first summer is hard! I really would reconsider arriving in June...... Get here beginning of September (schools will prob go back around 10th) and you'll find it so much easier!

The driving test is a total pain - you can't apply until you have your RP and then its theory and then a road test. They fail people a lot for no obvious reason so expect to not pass first time even if you've been driving years! If you get an international licence you can drive on that until your RP comes through (U.K. licence is only 7 days) but as soon as you have RP you need your Qatari licence.

Good luck!

SpecialFlowSnake Tue 11-Apr-17 06:11:54

Couple of useful blogs for you to research. Good luck!

socmonster Tue 11-Apr-17 17:08:41

Thanks again for the replies....Gosh you've really got me swayed towards coming out in September now. It would mean moving back to parents in Ireland for the summer as sale of house will probably have gone through, but that might be preferable to roasting alive - just!

I'm devastated about the reintroduction of driving tests. I'm emotionally scarred from the ordeal of passing my British test (won't tell you how many attempts it took), so cannot believe I'll have to go through it all again : /

I'm currently putting applications in for Park house and DBS. DC is a bit beyond our budget fees wise and DESS need child to have British passport in order to apply - son has an Irish one. I might consider applying for a British one as it does seem to get good reviews. Anyone have children there?
Also has anyone heard any good reports about any of the following schools? Maybe just as holding schools in case we don't get a place at a good school initially...:

Loydence, Gulf English School, Qatar Sidra Academy, Qatar INternational school, Newton, Phoenix private school, English modern school..

Thanks again : )

habibihabibi Tue 11-Apr-17 19:06:55

I've know people very happy with Newron Britiah Loydence and Phoneix for the first few years of school but they have been only here on short contracts or moved to a more popular school when places opened .Sidra is really a hospital staff school and not British curriculum Gulf English and English Modern are pitched at non western pupils and QIS is a very established private school but predominantly Qatari and Arab nationals .DESS is lovely.

habibihabibi Tue 11-Apr-17 19:08:02

Sorry for the spelling ! (On my phone)

JoandMax Tue 11-Apr-17 19:50:05

DESS is a lovely school but when I looked a few months back pretty much every year was full and had a waiting list, always worth a try though as there's a lot of movement in schools here.

Park House was one of my top ones I liked but they could only offer us places to start in September so we went for King's, both my sons have settled and really happy there

yallamamma Wed 12-Apr-17 05:39:28

Hi soc

Just saying hello from sunny Doha. We moved here last year with a 3yr old and 4wk old, my strong advice would be to stick it out in the U.K./Ireland until September. It'll give you longer to sort out schools and hopefully if a few folks leave over summer you might get into a school higher up on your list. July and August here will be really tough with such a little baby and an older child that wants to play.

Let us know if there are any other questions you have, I know I had loads!

RedSandYellowSand Wed 12-Apr-17 06:08:33

Is your husband over there??
I'd suggest..
Seeing which schools will let you on a wait list, and applying.
Packing up and selling house, shipping whatever you want to ship to DH.
Move to parents for the summer.
Consider you may need a flying visit for a school assessment.
Move for school start date. It's still roasting in September.

I know several people who have invested in a British passport purely for schools admissions. Worth doing now, and getting any visas in it. If you have your Saudi visa in your other passport, your ID card says that nationality, and you don't get British priority for the British school that says British passport holders go to the top of the waiting list. Don't know about Qatar.

JoandMax Thu 13-Apr-17 06:39:45

The driving test isn't too bad don't worry!! It's a theory which is pretty straightforward and the road test is 15 minutes basic driving, there's no parking test or anything if you're just converting a licence. The main frustration is just how long winded the process is especially as they only do tests for ladies one day a week....... But you may find the process has changed again by then anyway! The rules changed in January (before that you didn't need to do tests, we arrived 2 weeks too late!) and it's caused a lot of drama so there's rumors it'll change back again.

Another thing you'll need to be aware of is the process for getting your residency permits (RPs). Technically your DC can't start school until they have their RP, some schools are more flexible and will allow them in while it's in progress but others are stricter.

I would ask DH to get confirmation from his employer what their timescales are for getting RPs - how long they take varies hugely depending on nationality, salary, employer etc Sometimes your sponsor needs 3/6 months worth of Qatar bank statements or a tenancy agreement before they can sponsor dependants.

Zimmerzammerbangbang Thu 13-Apr-17 06:49:18

All of those schools with space I would only use as a starter school whilst you wait for a place elsewhere. Depends how much you want your son in school immediately really. At 4 he could stay home for a bit and (depending on when he's five) might even qualify for some of the nurseries. However, it's hard to predict how long he'd be on the waitlists at some of the other schools.

The schools that are flexible on the RP point are using the 'better' schools that have more sway with the authorities. I know Loydence at least at the past has suspended students for not having RPs in place.

socmonster Thu 13-Apr-17 12:49:27

My husband is going out in June, haven't gotten actual date yet but possibly won't make it in time to look around any schools. My son is only 4 in May so I'm not massively concerned about him missing a month or two of school at the start. I'm a primary school teacher myself so homeschooling is an option for a short while if necessary. It's frustrating though not knowing when he might get a place and then trying to decide how long we should hold out for a place at one of the 'better' schools!

I thought nurseries didn't take children once they turned 4? That could be an option if there are a few children his age there...although the education allowance won't cover nursery, and I've heard they're quite pricey?

Yikes I hope that won't be the case re. residency permits. That would be a serious spanner in the works! Loydence have said to get in touch again when we get the RP. DBS said they might be more flexible.

JoandMax Thu 13-Apr-17 16:17:28

Most schools should still be open in June, apart from Eid week which is public holiday so will be shut then.

I'm not sure on nurseries as mine are school age, it's quite common to start mid way through terms though here and shouldn't be an issue - mine started a few weeks into the term and it was all handled well by the school. It's such a transient lifestyle here the schools in general are great at welcoming in new children.

It is very hard sorting out schools, by far the most stressful bit of moving! They also only give you 7 days to accept a place!!!

You may well be ok with RPs, we managed to get ours in 2.5 weeks after we arrived. You'll find when you move here there is never a fixed timescale for anything, it's so dependent on who you are and who you know!!!

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