It looks great on paper, ‘Doha, Qatar, attractive salary, a free flight a year home, contribution to education costs, housing allowance included’. To young couples starting off, or middle aged couple needing to bridge a gap, it reads as a no-brainer. Move to Qatar for a couple of years, save like, heaps of cash and move home before anyone even noticed you were gone with a smug smile across your face and wad of cash at your disposal. That’s the theory. Putting that to practice is another matter altogether.
See, what you don’t factor into the equation is that you move from Ireland as one person, the person, who says, I’ve no interest in fancy restaurants and mini-breaks to Dubai, I just want save money and get home as soon as possible. You have decided that you are not actually living in Qatar, you’re just working there for a few years to get on your feet. You deem investing in people you meet or indeed anything is pointless, your people are at home and you’re merely excusing yourself for a little while and certainly have no intention of ‘living’ abroad. You pack your bits and pieces, head for the airport, take a deep breath and plan to hold it in until you get repatriate home, the whole gruesome but lucrative experience behind you.
Like a crazed squirrel you work hard and gather, gather, gather, stuffing as many nuts as possible into your bag, the bag is bulging but you want more, more nuts and maybe even another bag! The potential for accumulation overwhelms and blinds to the point that you miss out on the turning of the seasons, the smell of spring in the air, the beautiful colour of the leaves that surround you ( all hypothetical, as there is nothing like any of that in Qatar).
But all work and no play makes an insatiable squirrel a dull boy, you don’t immerse in the society around you or engage in any group and the last thing you would have heard, if you hadn’t been so engrossed with the nuts and the bag, was your wife and kids and sense of balance walking out the door and leaving you alone to revel in your nuts. This happens to people, eyes so fixed on the prize that they forgot to enjoy the ride only to realise too late that they’ve lost what mattered most.
The reality is, life goes on no matter where you are, and when you come to Doha, whether you like or accept it or not, you are ‘living’ here. How you choose to live is of your own doing. Sure, it’s great to aim for the house, holiday home, hefty bank account but not at any cost because what you will ultimately sacrifice are the best aims of all, enjoyment, satisfaction and the work/life/love balance that is necessary to fuel positive mental health.
So it’s up to you, do you let life go on around you and your bag of nuts and be miserable, board that plane three years’ time wondering who the tall kids standing alongside you are or live a little, don’t be so stringent on the three year plan, make it five years, home will always be there, you’ll have the same nuts, great memories and a well mind. Go for brunch, visit Dubai, indulge in a cleaner, relax a little and spread the nuts.
Word of warning to all those reading the job notices mentioning attractive salaries and remuneration packages. Be realistic, double the time you plan on spending in Doha and you might be close, half the amount you estimate you can save and that might be nearer the mark and at all costs, maintain your work/life/love (something other than money) balance.
There is no actual state throughout life where you can pause time, gather nuts, unpause and move on. It’s all a process, a journey, and every step counts. Exhale now.