Doha Survival Guide

Madi Alexander is a a student at Oklahoma City University and an official API Student Blogger. Madi is studying abroad with API this spring in Doha, Qatar.

Next week marks three months of living in Doha. The past three months have been full of amazing friends, delicious food, and for the parents reading this, lots of studying. I decided that I’ve spent enough time getting to know this city and its people that I am capable of creating a short survival guide of things you should and shouldn’t do while in Doha.

With the help of Jen, Zahra, Katharine, and Nao, here’s our survival guide for students and visitors in Doha:

DO:
– Do learn how to bargain with shopkeepers. If you pay more than 20 QR for a pashmina in the souq, you’re getting ripped off.
– Do take some time to learn the social customs and habits of the Arab world, like not showing people the soles of your shoes.
– Do drink a lot of water. The highs for this week don’t drop below 100 degrees. Enough said.
– Take advantage of social networking. Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are full of helpful people and pages for events, activities, and get-togethers in Qatar. Most people in Qatar are very well connected through social media.
– Try new food. I hate eggplant with a passion, but it turns out that I love baba ghanoush. Jen hates tomatoes, but she loves tabouleh.
– Explore all the malls. Even though you can’t afford most things, it’s fun to look at all the ungodly expensive clothing.

DON’T:
– Don’t wear a bikini. Ever. Regardless of if the beach is private or not, you are a guest in this country and the respectful thing to do is wear shorts and a t-shirt.
– Don’t be afraid to get out of the taxi if the driver won’t turn the meter on. Karwa (the Qatari taxi company) has a reputation for not wanting to use the meter. Argue with the driver or get out and find another taxi.
– Don’t believe that airport security here is as intense as the United States. I carried a full bottle of water onto the plane and nobody removes their shoes when going through security.
– Don’t be afraid to talk to the natives. You’ll have to make the initial effort, but I promise it’ll be worth it.
– Don’t be late for curfew. Guys, this doesn’t really apply to you. Ladies, try not to be late too much.
– Don’t assume Land Cruisers will stop for you if step out in front of them. Chances are, you’re going to lose that battle.

The best advice for anyone coming here is to never say no. Even if camping on the beach with friends isn’t your cup of tea, chances are you’ll regret not going more than you’ll regret going. Make the most of your time here and never pass up an opportunity to have fun with your friends!

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