Tag Archives: Doha

‘I lost most of my savings’ – The cost of risky financial advice in Qatar

Images Money / Flickr

Images Money / Flickr

Last month, I spent several weeks researching and writing this story for Doha News about the financial advice industry in Qatar, and the bad experiences some investors have had with advisers in the region, both regulated and unregulated. It sparked a lot of interest, with many people sharing their experiences – both good and bad – in the comments section below.

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An expat’s possessions, and Doha’s ‘broken’ roads

Muhammad Kamran Qureshi/Flickr

Muhammad Kamran Qureshi/Flickr

Here are two more Telegraph blog posts for you – the first about the true value of an expat’s possessions, and the second about Qatar’s ‘broken’ roads, a post I wrote following a particularly depressing week on Doha’s dangerous streets.

The first post was also published in the Telegraph Weekly World print edition.

Enjoy!

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Two new Telegraph blog posts: Giving birth in the Qatari desert, and The arrival of winter

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I’m now back writing again after a rather momentous event, the birth of our second child – a little girl – at the beginning of August.  Luckily she’s a very good baby and allows Mummy some time to dedicate to her passion. I love motherhood, but I also love having a creative outlet, so I’m enjoying blogging for The Telegraph about expat life.

My first two posts following my daughter’s birth have been about The Cuban Hospital (the rather unusual location for her delivery) and about the very welcome arrival of winter in Qatar.

I hope you enjoy them both.

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Mother and child in jail for debt – a follow-up story for Doha News

sarahkoller.com

sarahkoller.com

Recently, I wrote a follow-up to a very popular Doha News story from last year, in which I focused on women who’d been jailed in Qatar for giving birth outside of wedlock.

In the latest story, I write about Mary (not her real name), who’d originally been sentenced to a year in prison with her baby for sex outside marriage, and was still in jail, more than 15 months later, due to debts, most of which she had accumulated after borrowing money from a loan shark.

The story went viral and got shared widely on Twitter and Facebook. It’s co-authored with my Doha News colleague Peter Kovessy, who provided the sections on the legal framework in Qatar.

You can click here to read it, and the comments underneath – 122 to date – are well worth reading, too.

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Precious family time in Doha during Ramadan – my first Telegraph blog post

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I was recently asked to become a regular blogger for The Telegraph’s expat section. My first post is about Ramadan, and the surprising upside to being stuck indoors with very little to do for a month.

I’m expecting our second child very soon, and I’ve realised that Doha’s heat and Ramadan’s restrictions on day time activities have led me to focus even more on my little family – a real blessing.

Update September 2016: As the Telegraph has now removed all expat blogs from its site, here is the post in full:

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Precious family time in Qatar during Ramadan

Many non-Muslim expats choose to leave Qatar for Ramadan. The reasons for this are myriad: almost all food outlets are closed during the day, and it’s illegal to eat or drink in public; the entire country essentially shuts down every afternoon, with most shops and offices closed; alcohol sales are banned; and road conditions around sunset require rally driving skills and nerves of steel, as fasting drivers speed to reach their iftar meal.

We’ve done similar in years past. Primarily, we’ve flown out to escape the furnace that is summer in Doha.

Ramadan moves annually, migrating backwards in the calendar by around 11 days each year, and for the past six years or so, it’s fallen in the most uncomfortable of Qatar’s seasons. From June to September it’s far too hot to go outside for the much of the day (our garden thermometer is currently reading 42c in the shade), and given that Ramadan this year falls neatly at the beginning of school summer holidays, you can see why a non-fasting family might choose to exit stage right.

Not us this year, however. Due to the impending addition of another Scott to our current family unit of three, I’m grounded. Quite literally, as it happens – pregnant women are unable to fly late in their pregnancy, so in Doha I must stay until our little one makes an entrance.

I’ve had plenty of people commiserating with me about the “miserable timing”, and I must admit to some pangs of jealousy caused by photos shared on Facebook and Twitter of Wimbledon, green hills, rural pub lunches and garden barbeques.

And yet, despite Doha’s oppressive heat and the restrictions of Ramadan, there’s a certain magic about this time of year here, even for a non-Muslim expat like me. Muslim friends of mine say they see this month as an opportunity to step off the hamster wheel and pause for a while, focusing on family life and reflection, and I must say I’m also beginning to see it that way.

As we enter the final few weeks of our life as a family of three, I’m beginning to appreciate the lack of distractions. Faced with nowhere in particular to go in the afternoons, for example, we’ve baked cookies, walked (waddled in my case)around empty (but blessedly air-conditioned) malls, and simply sat down to watch TV together, taking in the tennis whilst munching on ice-lollies.

And when my son helps me to mix the dough, holds my hand on the sofa or screams with laughter when my husband throws him in the air (and this happens frequently in our house) I am remembering to treasure that moment, to tuck it away and keep it safe.

I’m learning that a period of what essentially amounts to house arrest can have its benefits; when you’re about to embark on a period of huge change, being made to stand and stare for a while can be a blessing in disguise.

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‘Head butt’ statue stirs up controversy in Doha

zidane

Earlier this month, Doha News ran a very popular exclusive – pictures and an accompanying story about the surprise installation of controversial sculpture “Coup de Tête” – or “Head Butt” in English – by Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed on Doha’s corniche. The work captures the moment when French football player Zinedine Zidane head-butted Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup.

The story was the result of a meeting with the Qatar Museums Authority, who agreed to give me advance warning of the installation. The resulting post spread virally, becoming one of our most popular stories this month so far.

The statue has so far caused a fair amount of controversy, being labelled, amongst other things, as un-Islamic and promoting violence.

Click here to read my story.

Have you seen the statue in situ? What do you think?

Credit: Photo by Gazanfarulla Khan

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Babies behind bars: The women who go to jail in Qatar just for getting pregnant

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This week, I wrote a pretty hard-hitting piece for Doha News about the fate of women in Qatar who give birth to illegitimate babies. If they do so, they’re breaking the law, and they receive a guaranteed jail sentence, which they serve with their babies.

For the piece, I spoke to one woman who is currently on the run in Qatar after giving birth to a baby girl eight months ago out of wedlock. She will inevitably have to hand herself in and serve her sentence.  I also include an extract from a desperate email I received last year from a woman in similar situation, who’s now also in jail. It was this email which sparked off my investigation.

Let me know what you think of the article.

Credit: Photo for illustrative purposes by Angela Randall

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Are the talents of many women in Qatar being wasted? My opinion column for The Edge

womanworkingBusiness magazine The Edge have just launched a new opinion column, “Qatar Perspectives”, and I have the honour of being their first guest columnist.

My chosen topic – the huge challenges many women in Qatar face if they choose to pursue a career. Do you agree with me? You can read the column here.

Credit: Photo by Anya Quinn

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Qatar’s first “Passivhaus” – my article for new magazine Alef

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This month sees the launch of new bilingual magazine Alef, which focuses on cultural topics indigenous to the Gulf. I’ve written one of its first features, on a “Passivhaus”  – an environmentally friendly home – which has been built in Doha’s Barwa City. You can read it here.

Alef is being launched on the 6th of July at London’s Serpentine Gallery at 12pm. Afterwards, it will be available internationally – I’ll update this post with a list of outlets when they’re announced.

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Laptops for workers: One inspirational man working to improve the lives of Qatar’s labourers

laptops

In this month’s Qatar Happening magazine, I interview teacher Steve Parenteau, whose brainchild, “Laptops 4 workers”, has blossomed into a large programme aimed at improving the quality of life of labourers in Qatar. I really enjoyed meeting him – he’s truly an inspirational man. Click here to read the story.

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