Who wouldn’t dream to stay in a hotel for…ever? Really? Well, staying in a hotel sounds so much fun and exciting, if the hotel’s name sounds like the five star St Regis or Marsa Malaz Kempinski. However it can be a completely different story when you have just moved to Doha, Qatar, you are surrounded by buildings, the temperature is almost always around 40 degrees Celcius, the hotel is a two star (?) and when you are so much used to seeing the blue sky of Perth and Mauritius!
Marhaba! The temperature is 41 degrees Celcius today and I’m in Doha; more exactly in Msheireb, also known as the heart of Doha. It is one of the cities having a make over in view of the FIFA World Cup 2022 at the estimated cost of 20 billion QR. The aim is to redevelop the city while at the same time conserving the historical downtown Doha. Im in a hotel with my family. It is officially rated 4 star but when you compare it to a Mauritian 4 star hotel or an Australian one it looks more like a two star! The apartment is not huge but spacious enough for the three of us: 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom suite, 1 toilet, kitchen with all decent amenities and a living area.The hotel being a 2 star (?), the state of the carpet can keep you wondering how many people have been here before.
When we relocated to Doha, we were given this hotel accommodation while waiting to get a ‘real’ one (accommodation NOT hotel) from the Ministry of Housing. The way the housing system works for expats here is quite difficult to understand at first (specially for a neo-Doha traveller like myself) and the process can be quite long. From my understanding so far: the family sponsor (in this case my husband) needs to go through a medical test, wait for the results, get his Qatari ID, sign his work contract and then submit it to the Department of Housing of the company. The rest of the family goes through the same process to get the Qatari ID. The Ministry of Housing has a long list of companies/institutions and a list of villas and apartments which it then distributes according to the number of people in the family, the company/institution where the sponsor works, and his ‘grade’ in the workplace. My family consists of 3 people so it is highly improbable that I will be allocated a villa with 4 or 6 bedrooms! If there are no 2 or 3 bedrooms apartments available, my family will stay on the waiting list a bit longer — which means back to living out of a suitcase for a few more days. Or months, who knows?
Life out of a Suitcase: The Fun Side
- Don’t have to worry about changing the bedsheets, the towels, emptying the bins. It’s done everyday or as per request.
- Don’t have to worry about cleaning or vacuuming, changing light bulbs or any maintenance.
- The hotel apartment is a decent size so everything is accessible.
- Its location is perfect! It’s close to mostly everything and we can easily drive to main shopping centres.
- It has a gym, swimming pool, restaurant (although I haven’t had the chance to enjoy these facilities yet, my 2 year old keeping me fit and entertained during the day!)
- Dont have to worry about paying bills (AC needed day and night) and there are so many satellite channels that I can watch two/three channels at the same time! And remember: it’s all free!
- Free WIFI.
- After a while, even your child will know that he/she lives in a hotel and he/she is waiting to get a ‘home’.
- Your child will end up knowing all his/her books, toys, songs, many of the staff names and may even know how to count 1-20 before she turns two. He/she may even start to read some engineering books of the sponsor!
Life out of a Suitcase: The Down Side
- I feel that I wear the same clothes all the time; even my husband asked me if I didn’t have other clothes (I do have about 5 dresses, a pair of jeans, 3 leggings and a few t-shirts with me).
- We got our ‘boxes’ shipped last week and have put everything in the living room and the bedroom; suddenly the place is looking smaller and a bit crammed (surprising?)
- Can be frustrating when you know you have all your stuff in the boxes but you don’t want to take everything out as anytime you can ‘get’ a ‘house’ and have to pack again to move there.
- Cannot do anything outside because of the heat. It’s shopping centres or home/hotel.
I dont know how many more days we’ll be living out of our suitcases. It’s been fun till now. However living in continuous suspense can become tiring and frustrating after a while. Let’s hope we hear from ‘housing’ well before we reach that level or before my two-year old starts counting to 30 or 40! Who knows?