‘I moved to Doha two years ago, when I was asked to take the executive chef position at Grand Hyatt Doha – previously I worked for the Grand Hyatt in Dubai. I’m from Dublin originally – it is a fantastic city with a great nightlife scene and lots of interesting things to do. Doha is quite a bit different, and has its own charms and special attributes, but it’s an excellent place for young families and allows a good quality of life.
‘The thing I miss most about home is obviously a good pint of Guinness. I’ve met a few other Irish expats in Doha, but not that many. If I start to feel homesick, I usually just put on a CD with some Irish music, and sit back and listen to that. The Irish Harp at the Sheraton has some of the food from home on offer, but as I’m a chef I usually just cook for myself, often making Irish stews and bread. Back home the Irish cooking is fantastic – we are very lucky to be surrounded by water, and the quality of our fish is amongst the best in the world.
‘I try to go home every year, and I’ll probably stay in Doha at least another 12 months. It can be quite a charming place, when you look at areas like the Corniche, and it’s very serene, but after two years you can start to run out of things to do. I wish there were more music concerts, just like we enjoy back in Ireland. I like some of the food here, though, like the kebabs and various Arabic dishes.
‘I won’t get that homesick on St Patrick’s Day. It’s celebrated all over the world, so it’s easy to find a party. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing for it this year – I might be working – but for sure I’ll have a pint of Guinness before the day ends.’
‘I came to Doha 18 months ago to work for a construction company. I come from a town just outside Armagh. It’s a bit quiet really, so Doha is pretty good in comparison. I remember my first impressions of Doha when I got here – it was hot! I arrived in July and thought there was no way I’m going to survive this. But I soon got into it – the constant sunshine, brunches, dhow boat trips, shisha and tax-free salary helped me do that.
‘The thing I miss most about home is my family and friends. If you want to bump into other Irish people, though, all you need to do is go to the Irish Harp – the place is full of them. But I speak to my friends and
family all the time, and try to get home as often as I can, probably about three times a year.
‘The summers are much hotter in Doha than what I am used to – a little too hot for me really. It would be nice if it was just a bit closer to Ireland, so I could hop back and visit friends at the weekend. But when I’m not working I like to go running along the Corniche and browse the malls. I also go to quite a few of the events here, like the Laughter Factory, pub quiz and sports events. I think I’ll be here for another year maybe.
‘I’ve only been here for one St Paddy’s Day so far, and it was OK as one of my friends was out here visiting at the time. I’m not sure what I’ll do to celebrate this year. It’s on a Wednesday, so I’ll probably have a relatively quiet one – just a few drinks after work.’
‘I moved to Doha two-and-a-half years ago now. I work for Shell in the contracts and procurement team as a contracts engineer.Originally I am from a town in Ireland called Kells in County Meath. There are many, many differences between Kells and Doha, but there are also similarities. My home town is quite small and you can walk from one side to the other in about 15 minutes. The shopping facilities at home are limited, unlike Doha, but the number of pubs is probably double compared to what we have here. ‘The traffic in Kell is not too bad, and we have no roundabouts. Most people in the town know each other, as most people have lived there all their lives, just as their families have for generations before. With regards to similarities, we have lots of 4x4s, but they are used for farming rather than driving about town.
‘I was very happy when I first arrived in Doha. I love the fact that every morning when you wake up you are greeted by sunshine. I was a bit scared taking to the roads and driving, but I realised it was a necessity, so I quickly got used to that.
‘I miss my family and friends back home, and seeing lots of greenery. Also I miss hearing the Irish accent – oh, and Tayto crisps. But I joined the Irish Society, and they organise lots of events, so I have met other people from Irleand, and my mobile phone is always close at hand if I’m homesick. ‘In Doha I play tennis and go horse riding at least once a week. Also my husband loves to go kite surfing and wakeboarding, so we spend a lot of weekends on a beach or in the water. We go back home probably about four or five times a year, and would do more if there was a direct flight.
‘At home on St Patrick’s Day, everyone will have a day off and be enjoying the parades and parties. It’s a big day for Irish people, and I am sure I will have many a phone call from friends and family telling me what I am missing. I’ll be working, but I’ll probably head to the Irish Harp afterwards and enjoy the atmosphere.’
Ireland’s history and culture have been shaped by its Celtic heritage, Christianity, and by successive colonisation. The Cromwellian conquest at the end of the 17th century, when approximately 600,000 people died, was a particular low point, as was the Great Famine of the 1840s leading to the deaths of one million people and the emigration of many more.
Colonial rule of Ireland by Britain ended in the ’20s and was followed by a bloody civil war. Even this did not end the island’s suffering. On the granting of home rule, the British-run state of Northern Ireland was formed for the loyally British Protestant population in the area. Many Catholics, with no allegiance to the crown, were also left in the north. Their grievances reached boiling point in the late ’60s, when a period of unrest eventually turned into a terrorist war known, euphemistically, as The Troubles. This only ended in 1998, with the Good Friday Agreement, which saw a powersharing government formed in the north.
A troubled history has not stopped Ireland’s rich, proud culture projecting around the world. Although all Irish citizens speak English, their native language is still alive in pockets of the country and is part of the national curriculum. This vibrant culture has led to many successful exports. Some are enduring: Guinness, literature (including the likes of Yeats, Swift, Heaney and Shaw) and some less so: Riverdance being an obvious example.
St Patrick’s Day events:
Irish Paddy’s Ball. Come to the Qatar Irish Society’s annual event at Ramada Plaza Doha. Email QIS2010@googlemail.com for ticket info.
Wahm, W Hotel (453 5323). Wear your best green and come along to the Wahm bash.