What a wild ride we have had together. I remember when Polar first made the suggestion that we move to your country- and I point blank refused to entertain the notion. How I laugh now thinking back on my stubbornness. I cannot imagine how life would be- how I would be- if you and I had not spent these three years together.
Not only have I changed since I moved but how I have watched YOU grow. In 2020, I arrived in the nick of time before you barricaded yourself against the Covid-19 pandemic. A country I had no time to explore, get to know or familiarize myself with, suddenly became a barren landscape of empty stores and quiet roads. It was a trying time for everyone but what I do recall is that there was no distinction between citizen and resident when it came to getting vaccinated, supporting healthcare workers and working together to be safe. If I could choose another country to be bunkered in during a worldwide health crisis- I would choose you again.
The road to Fifa 2022 was a tumultuous one. I watched you plan, panic, and create an unforgettable experience that many thought you would fail to deliver. You deflected Islamophobic comments and dealt with issues you normally ignore. It was wonderful to watch you grow. While the World Cup 2022 was a major inconvenience for me, I can’t deny that it allowed you to shine in the eyes of the rest of the world.
During our time together, I have transformed completely. From the trailing expat spouse when I first arrived, I am now a highly sought after professional in my own field. Teaching in Qatar allowed me to regain a passion for a career I was contemplating leaving. I am incredibly grateful for the students I met, the families I interacted with and the skills I learnt, despite all the challenges that came along with it.
From yelling, “Ashgal” every time I encountered a road closure to 1 Riyal Karak at TeaTime; from trying to avoid the pigeons at those towers in Katara to getting lost in the small alleyways of Souq Waqif; from the abstract desert art installations to natural rock formations in Zekreet; to the magical moment of seeing where the desert meets the sea or watching a dolphin dance along the Salwa coastline. From the colourful buildings in Qanat Quartier to the old brown mansions in Al Wakra, it has been a pleasure to experience life with you over the last 3.5 years.
I have loved the opportunities you afforded me; the people you allowed me to meet and the unforgettable memories you and I have had. In a land where modern skyscrapers rise to the clouds while the Azaan (call to prayer) emanates from a neighboring mosque, I have loved the ever-evolving contrasts, contradictions and craziness of calling you home.
Until we meet again…
Aneesa (Expat Panda)