My poor blog! I have neglected it, and you my readers! I do apologize! Somehow I mean to write a blog post, and then some thing else gets in the way! I have a few other posts I hope to get caught up on soon!
I wanted to answer some questions asked in my previous post about dispelling rumors about living abroad in a Muslim country.
From my good friend, C :-)She wants to know if I ever feel awkward being a minority in another country? Do I think I stand out being from the US, or just as a Westerner in general? Do I get a feel for how other people view Americans?
The funny thing about this question is that I am not in the minority. Ex-pats actually make up a very large portion of Qatar’s rapidly growing population! The native Qataris are a small part of the population, there are many other Muslims who reside who and also wear their native dress, so on a trip to the mall, you will see a mix of abayas, thobes, and regular street clothes. I wanted to share a break down of the different cultures, but I am unable to find an article or statistics about the population. If I find one, I will update! 🙂
I do stand out as being a Westerner, for sure. The main reason being that I don’t wear an abaya, but there are other reasons too. When I am out at stores or restaurants, I often get asked where I am from. I am not sure if they ask because of my fair skin tone, blue eyes, and brown hair, or possibly just my cheerful disposition. The fact that they ask me these questions makes me think I must be standing out to them, as a non Middle-Easterner.
It’s really fascinating to learn how other people feel about America. When people do ask where I am from, and I say the US, the response is usually the same. They are usually excited and tell me how they want to go there someday. (These are mainly workers from the Philippines, Asian countries, etc). It is interesting to see that so many people are still interested in traveling to the US and possibly living there.
Not sure what the Qataris think of the US, but for the most part, I have always had positive responses when I say where I am from. It makes me realize how lucky I was to grow up in the US, and it is neat to see that there are still many people to hope to travel there in search of freedom, and the American dream, I suppose.
Another comment that I wanted to answer is from my mother in law. She wants to know if I associate much with the people of the area or do I primarily just hang out with other Americans?
So far, I mainly hang out with just Americans. They are all working at the same University as Dave, and we have become friends quickly. As faculty, my friends certainly have more access to Qataris, because they have some of them as their students. I am not quite sure how to meet a Qatari, but I would love to, because there are SO many misconceptions between Qataris and ex-pats, and I would love to get a different perspective, and see things the way they see it, and try to understand their point of view.
Ex-pat life in general is good, and there are so many benefits to it. But there are cultural differences, and it takes time to understand them and learn to work with the cultural norms in your new country. We were lucky that one of the barriers was not language! Since the majority of people speak English, we have been able to navigate very well. If they only spoke Arabic – we’d be in trouble 😛
Hope this is somewhat enlightening, and if you have more thoughts, questions, ideas….let me know! 🙂