Hooray! This is my first blog topic that was suggested by a reader – a good friend of mine. As I mentioned, I am totally open to suggestions and want to write about whatever it is you are curious about my life here in Doha! (Jenny M – I will do yours next, a typical day at work for me).
My friend writes…
I was reading the news this morning about the bombings in Baghdad, and while I realize you are pretty far away from there, I was just wondering how safe you felt, overall, about being an American living in a foreign country? Or is it so westernized it doesn’t even phase you? Or what about crime – is there much over there? Do you feel safe in your apartment?
Before arriving in Doha, I had very similar thoughts! To give you a better idea of where Qatar is in location to the rest of the Middle East, here is a map showing that we are very close to some areas where the war is happening, or other countries where terrorists are allegedly being harbored.
As you can see, Qatar is a peninsula off of Saudi Arabia, and Iraq and Iran are just across the gulf from us. You’ll also notice Yemen is not far away either. So looking at the map certainly makes you think that Qatar may not be a very safe place to live. However, its not true at all!
I feel very safe as a American living here in Doha. It is a very Westernized city (five story malls, fast food restaurants everywhere, and Starbucks abound everywhere), so in that sense sometimes I rarely feel like I am living in a different country. Honestly, the thing we worry about the most here is getting into a car accident, due to a few crazy drivers who follow their own rules.
To answer the crime question, I am posting a link to this article about Qatar having one of the lowest crime rates in the world. This is certainly a good overview of how safe Doha really is. The crime rate is low, at least as far as what we hear. I don’t necessarily believe this means that no crime occurs, but just that it is less likely here than in other Middle Eastern countries.
However, things certainly do happen that we might not know about. There is no local news, and if there are, they are most likely in Arabic. So we get the majority of our news from Al-Jazeera (who broadcast from Doha a majority of the time) or BBC. So we try to take that for what its worth when we think about our safety.
I feel very safe in my apartment! We live in a 21 story apartment building, right in the West Bay, which is a busy part of the city. We have doormen at the entry door, and the driveway to our parking garage is gated, and opened for residents and their guests. (However, people sometimes slip through because they want to park in our building lot and walk across the street to the mall).
I feel safe walking across the street to the mall by myself, and walking around the mall on my own. (Of course, I am always well covered when out in public – usually long sleeves and jeans, to be respective to the Muslim culture). I certainly still keep my eyes open and am alert and proactive, but for the most part, I feel like I can relax when I am out, knowing that I am safe.
We registered with the American Embassy before we moved, so if anything ever did happen, or was threatened to, I have a good feeling that we would be notified by our employer and the US Embassy to evacuate the country.
I hope this answered your question, feel free to comment and suggest your own blog topic for me to write about! 🙂