I have been getting many questions lately about my job. Where do I work? What do I do? And what is it like to work in the Middle East?
Well! I am here to tell you that working in Qatar is equally as great as living in Qatar.
I will start from the beginning and explain how exactly I got a job here.
As I have mentioned my husband, Zach, was relocated here to work on the HUGE MASSIVE rail line that the government is building to go all around the country. When we came for his work, within our first month I wound up meeting with his HR department. They knew from him that I was job hunting and so only about two or so weeks after meeting them, they called with a job opening. The HR team knew that I was in search of a marketing position but posed the job more as temporary placement while I take my time to find a more permanent marketing job.
Here is the moment when I had just officially signed the contract.
The job they offered was as an “Office Manager” for the Education City project.
Education City is this huge area in Doha with branches from some of the most prestigious colleges from across the globe (including Texas A&M WHOOP!, Carnegie Mellon, Weill Cornell etc.). It is SO COOL because the country has invested tons of money and so the architecture and ideas implemented here are just over the top. For example there is a giant glass carousel on campus. The purpose? ……to make the world a more beautiful place? Lol No but really Education City is legit. The project that I am working on is a research facility that will house cutting edge research from some of the sharpest minds in the world.
|The Education City Convention Center (not my photo)|
|Education City Faculty of Islamic Studies (also not my image)|
|Education City Library (Sorry for not getting my own images! These ones were just too beautiful!)|
My actual job so far has been much less “Office Management” type work as I have been busy preparing tender documents, reviewing and revising contracts and conducting internal audits. Exciting stuff. Lol No but really the best part of work is getting to meet and learn from some seriously incredible people.
It sounds so cheesy but seriously it is so cool.
I felt safe at first because my actual boss is American—which is great because he was the only person who I could actually understand (thick accents galore here in Doha). Unfortunately, during my third week of work, he went on vacation and I was here on my own to fend for myself. What I found was that it has been the most rewarding thing to branch out and mingle with people from far different backgrounds as me.
My boss and I are literally the ONLY two Americans in my office out of the at LEAST 20 different countries represented. The most wonderful thing is that the people here (clearly) love to travel and have all been to at least 4 other countries for work and far beyond 15 for travel. During our lunches locked in a filing closet (read Ramadan post) we would talk about the distant places we had all been and when one decided to plan a trip all would divulge beautiful and captivating stories of their time in these places and give a thorough checklist of what to and not to do when visiting.
Zach and I recently planned a trip to Sri Lanka and one of the three actual Sri Lankan natives from my office planned out our entire trip!
It is just the neatest thing.
Zach’s work did a food festival last month where everyone brought food from their home country. Love it!
Beyond the people, the working hours are very different from those in America.
Back in Texas I worked from about 7:30 – 5 and had two weeks (or ten business days) of vacation. With 7 bank holidays.
Sounds fine and normal until you see what the rest of the world is doing!
Here, I work from 7 – 3 and have over FIVE weeks of vacation(over 25 days) plus three “floating days” (which you attach on the end of bank holidays where you want) PLUS eleven bank holidays! It is freakin’ awesome!
No wonder everyone abroad travels so much! They have the time to! I have heard that in Europe the starting number of days off is 30 and it only goes up from there! Wow! Needless to say, people are traveling all of the time so it is never too big of a deal when you submit time off. I know a few places where you get dirty looks for even mentioning leaving for more than just a long weekend. (My boss is currently on a three week vacation…THREE WEEK!)
This is my “OMG I just LOVE getting so many days off work” face lol
Okay and you got me, it is also my “I just want to take as many photos as possible before my henna wears off” face
How do you ever go back to American work schedules after you have experienced such perks?
THE ONE DOWNSIDE .. okay TWO DOWNSIDES that are specific to me
a. I work six days a week (Zach and most other companies do not but this particular contract does require it) (I work Sat-Thurs)
b. Dress code is STRICT. That whole cover your shoulders and knee thing? Yeah they take it VERY SERIOUSLY at work. No more pencil skirts for me… The positive here is that since I work in a “site office” I can wear jeans and a t-shirt if I like… I still prefer the pencil skirt!
Finally, I suppose I should touch on pay and benefits. I won’t go into great detail here but financially, the country is doing VERY WELLand although housing is pretty pricey, the salaries certainly compensate. I will just say that Zach and I both make more than we did in the states. That’s all I will say about that!
Other great perks are the benefits that come along with the salary. For example I have a driver. It is awesome. He comes to get me each morning, takes me (and whoever else needs a ride) around from one office to the next during the day then at the end brings me home.!!!! This makes not having a car NO BIG THANG and keeps us safe from any of the wild drivers in fancy cars out here.
This is Michael (my driver) picking me up on my second day of work!
Another perk are what we call “Tea Boys”. And let me just say, AMERICA NEEDS TEA BOYS! Basically they are men who work in the office and whose whole job is to bring drinks to everyone working in the office. Seriously, this is a real thing! They will bring you tea, coffee, espresso, water etc etc. I have even seen some bring treats like cookies with the drinks (ALL FREE). IT IS SO AWESOME. In the morning when you come in, the tea boy will promptly bring you your coffee exactly how you like it and then check on you throughout the day to bring anything else you may need. They even clean out your Tupperware when you finish lunch! THEY CLEAN YOUR TUPPERWARE PEOPLE! I HATE CLEANING TUPPERWARE! …clearly this is a huge benefit to me lol
Zach asked that include his favorite tea boys Madan and Nishantha as well as his favorite drink that they make him, piping hot espresso!
Zach’s office even has an “Office Boy” who goes around and does random “office” stuff for people. For example, he will grab documents off of the printer for you (heaven forbid you have to get up and grab it from ten feet away yourself!) Zach says that people will even have him plug things into the wall next to them for them. Seems a little over the top but service seems to be part of the culture. These kinds of workers can be found in literally every office and are very common place to everyone (besides me I guess!).
The last great perk is healthcare. Our full health insurance plan is provided by the company and basically allows us to get any treatment done (be it an eye treatment, skin, broken bone, whatever!) and we just pay the first 50 riyal ($13) then they pay the rest. THE ENTIRE REST. Like WHAT!! They even extend this same coverage to all of the hospitals in the entire WORLD…….all except American hospitals lol they literally write the plan and excluded America. Now if that doesn’t send a message about Americas outrageous medical costs I don’t know what would! Lol
I got ALL FOUR of my wisdom teeth removed a month or two ago (which required a 24-hour stay in the hospital and a whole lot of meds) and it cost $4,943, I paid $13. Seriously.
Ready for tons of icecream and mashed potatoes
Starting to get scared about what exactly the surgery will entail
Stitches removal where I never wanted to see another bit of mushy food in my life
As good as the benefits sound, they still don’t even compare to the FREE healthcare given to Qatari nationals or their free electricity, air conditioning etc. BUT THAT IS A WHOLE NOTHER (is nother a word?) STORY.
All in all, I give working in Qatar a great rating because of the diverse people you get to meet, the generous time off and extensive benefits.
Shokran & Gig ‘Em!