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Meet a Doha mum: Kimberly Stearn

Find out what this American mum's thoughts are about life in Doha.

Originally from Arkansas, USA, Kimberly Stearn worked as the director of sales for a branding and packaging company in the UK for nine years. Shortly after meeting her husband, James, at a social volleyball match, they got married and had their son, Findlay. Kimberly was pleasantly surprised at the ease of transition and setting up procedures in Doha in comparison to other countries she has moved to in her working career.

An interview with Kimberly

Why did you move?

James [her husband] was offered a job on the World Cup 2022 project and I was on maternity leave at the time so I was happy to extend it to a proper career break. 

Where are you planning your next holiday?

We're going to Geneva to visit friends and then on to France for a week of skiing.

Do you work and if so what do you do?

My job title is ‘full time mum’. I feel very privileged and honoured to be able to have this time with Findlay, as it’s only a matter of three to four years before he is at school for a full day. Not everyone has this advantage when their children are young so I am making the most of it. I am still adapting to the role and am kept very busy chauffeuring from the nursery and shop to shop, attending to the family and other household needs.

I sometimes miss the commitment and constant motion of an outside job, as once you are busy, it’s easier to stay busy—I find myself sometimes getting trapped into doing things that are not necessarily on my to do list when I am at home. I think it’s a good idea to incorporate your professional skills, run your home as you would your career tasks with schedules and deadlines so that you keep on track and in line.

What language do you speak to your children?

Only English

Where do you live and are you happy there?

We live in Al Jazi Gardens and really enjoy it. The location is ideal and the community, friendships and connections here are so valuable.

Is this your first expat experience and if not, where else have you lived?

No. I lived in Switzerland (just outside Geneva) for one year, and then in the UK (Hertfordshire, just north of London) for more than nine years.

What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the international community living in Doha?

There are a lot of support groups and communities like Doha Mums for mothers and families out here. There is the tax-free status and expat salary and benefits. This allows us to have a certain type of lifestyle—live-in maids, luxury brands, private education, expensive leisure activities, brunches, expensive holidays, etc.—that we may not have been able to afford elsewhere. This lifestyle also makes it possible to really focus on and have good quality time with your children.

Being an expat you meet a huge array of people from all over the world and experience different cultural perspectives (a spectacular experience for both parents and children).

As a keen golfer, I enjoy a wonderful weekly game with the most enjoyable company and even though there is only one course to choose from, I play more here than I ever have in the past. The course is floodlit so it means we can play at night and it’s more sociable.

Although it can be quite trying some times, being a part of such fast-paced change in a country is very interesting—there is always something new happening and witnessing it all is very exciting. I know I am making life-long friends here that we will stay in contact with and hopefully visit all around the world (for both parents and children).

The disadvantages are the traffic issues but mostly the dangerous drivers coupled with the volume of traffic in some areas at certain times of the day. As with all of the Middle East, seeing the conditions of most of the lower income workers and the way they are treated always shocks me.

Also, the working hours of my husband are sometimes up to ten hours a day, most days.

The one most prevalent point is the weather. Spending too much time indoors is not healthy for children so we leave Doha for two months over summer but this means that Findlay is away from his Dad and we miss him greatly.

What surprised you most about Doha?

Definitely the easy transition and settling-in period. It was very quick for us to adjust to living in the Middle East.

What is your favourite experience to date in Doha?

We went to the golf tournament and the men’s tennis tournament. They were great events—inexpensive and so easy to buy tickets. The seats we got and the type of matches we saw would not have been possible for us to see anywhere else in the world. 

What four words or short phrases would sum up your life here?

Family-friendly, easy living, exasperating and outdoors

Do you have a top tip for anyone moving to Doha?

Get out of Doha! There are several things to do outside the city: archaeological digs, desert camping, dune bashing, sea sports and lovely beaches.

Kimberly's Doha favourites

Indoor play

The City Centre Fun City toddler area—it's not as new as some of the other mall play centres, but it has loads of toys and activities. It's clean (enough)! Also, the Edzan Mall indoor play area is brand new, clean and the section for older kids is brilliant. The play area for toddlers is clean and nice, but doesn't have many toys.

Romantic meal

Isaan in the Grand Hyatt—the food is amazing.

Outdoor play

Al Wakra Beach—miles of sandy beach with shallow water. Perfect for kids and dogs!

Sunday lunch

This is sad, but Applebee's! It's five minutes from our house. The service is fast; the food is good value for money and the staff is brilliant with our son. There are much better restaurants here, but we never really want a long, drawn out lunch with our two year old.

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