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Featured Families

We were floored by the response we had to our cover contest. So many amazing families entered to be featured in the magazine. It was hard to pick just six, but here they are.

The Jamouls

Mihaela, Fadi, Adam, Arram
Nationality: Romanian/Syrian
Years in Qatar: 13

What is your favourite fun spot in Qatar?
We love going out to Aspire Park, especially with the great weather this year. My son can ride his bike, and I can do some exercising. We also like the Mall of Qatar, Souq Waqif and Oxygen Park in Qatar Foundation.

Describe your typical Saturday.
Saturday will start with a big family breakfast before going to Adam’s football class in Qatar Foundation. Then we usually take a trip to the Museum of Islamic Arts or Katara. We love Katara—there is always something happening there, and the food at L’Wazaar is our favourite.

Can you share a memorable Doha moment?
Life in Doha is an entertaining adventure at every step. In 2014, I wanted to surprise my husband with a gyrocopter trip to see the mangroves and flamingoes, but I didn’t fully understand what a gyrocopter was. When we got to Al Khor Airport, there were these devices without doors or roofs flying all around, and not knowing what a gyrocopter was, we were waiting for some aeroplane or helicopter-type of aircraft to arrive. Needless to say, we had quite the laugh when we realised what I had signed us up for—it was such an adventure flying and seeing the beautiful places Qatar has to offer.

What is something that your children have learned living in Qatar that they may not have learned in your home country?
I have two children, both born in Qatar, and we are already a mixed family: Eastern European and Western Asian, so we are very pleased to have raised them in a multicultural environment. I knew about life in the desert only from books. Hunting with falcons, pearl diving, Arabic calligraphy and other amazing Arab traditions were just in my daydreams when I was their age; my children know these things first-hand.

How do you ensure that your children maintain strong relationships with family members who are not in Qatar?
This is the downside of being an expat, especially when you move to Qatar from “far far away”. Family ties are really important for us, and it is essential that our children get to know our cultural background. We do our best to keep in touch with our families at all times. We have daily phone calls to go over what the little ones have been up to—their milestones, how is school and what is new.

Most of the relatives are back home, and our children get to see them only during vacations or visits that happen, in the best case, two to three times a year. Every time I get the chance, I fly my parents over. They are so in love with Doha, especially the amazing Pearl and the food variety. They will visit for a month or two with us to spend time with their grandchildren.


The Surajs

Shreya, Suraj, Khushi, Bhasker
Nationality: Indian
Years in Qatar: Four

What is your favourite fun spot in Qatar?
Our favourite place is the Museum of Islamic Art because it’s a perfect balance between tradition and modernity.

Describe your typical Saturday.
A typical Saturday means a lazy morning, followed by a hot Indian breakfast and a leisurely bath. Then we have a hot home-cooked lunch together as a family. In the evenings, we either go to the Corniche or MIA Park for a walk, followed by a dinner of Arabic food in a nice hotel.

What is your favourite family vacation destination?
Our favourite place is Munnar in Kerala, India. The lush green tea gardens, the smell of tea leaves, the scenery, the tall trees, the waterfalls, are a feast for the mind, body and soul.

Describe your best parenting moment.
My best parenting moment was when my daughter won a 10,000-Rupee award for being an allrounder from SIF Academy, Malaysia.

What is something that your children have learned living in Qatar that they may not have learned in your home country?
Living in Qatar has taught my children that the world is made of different types of people. Qatar has a diverse population, and so every day we can meet different people. This has taught my children compassion and tolerance, which they may not have learned in any other part of the world.

How do you ensure that your children maintain strong relationships with family members who are not in Qatar?
In India, we used to meet our grandparents and relatives for almost all religious functions. Living in Qatar, we’re not able to visit one another as frequently, but technology has made the distance shorter. Apps like Skype, Whatsapp and Facebook help us send pictures to family members. Having our family just a click away has helped us stay close.


The Bromleys

Tamsin, James, Henry, Amira
Nationality: British
Years in Qatar: Three

What is your favourite fun spot in Qatar?
Henry loves feeding the carp and just generally running around the grass at Aspire Park. Amira loves crawling, as she isn’t yet walking, so it’s perfect for her too, and of course, there are the coffee shops for mum and dad to grab a coffee and watch them explore.

What is your favourite family vacation destination?
We love going back home to Essex to catch up with family members and meet the latest additions to the family. Henry adores his grandma and grandad (and of course the rest of his family), and gets so excited when he knows there’s a holiday planned to go home to see them! Our favourite time to go back to the UK is Christmas. We love to make it really magical for them both.

Describe your best parenting moment.
Our best parenting moment was just becoming parents. It was a feeling we will never be able to truly describe. Henry and Amira were both premie babies, so that has made it even more special to watch them develop and grow. Being a parent is the best feeling ever.

...and your most embarrassing parenting moment.
The best one happened recently when Henry went up to a man at the Four Seasons brunch and tried to give him a wedgie (where you pull someone’s pants up out of the back of their trousers). Luckily the man and his family thought it was hilarious, but if he or his family are reading this, I apologise. I’m still truly horrified!

Can you share a memorable Doha moment?
One day, we went out with our friends on their boat around the Pearl and West Bay Lagoon. We were casually cruising around along a private beach in the lagoon, and we saw a Qatari man sitting on the beach with his dog. The scene was amazing—really tranquil and peaceful—he waved, and we all waved back. It wasn’t until we got closer that we realised it wasn’t a dog, but a lion cub. Yep! A lion cub! It was utterly incredible.


The Tubales

Jaren, Roie, Rorie
Years in Qatar: Seven

Describe your typical Saturday.
We work on Saturdays so in our family, Wednesday is “Daddy Day”, Thursday is “Mummy Day” and Friday is “Family Day”. When the weather is nice, you can find us either at the beach, park or play area. If we want to stay home, we will go to the McDonalds drive thru for breakfast and order a big breakfast meal with extra hash browns for Rorie, before heading home to play or watch TV. My husband and I get so busy working five days a week that on our off days we want to spend our time as a family and give our daughter special attention.

Describe your most embarrassing parenting moment.
So far there have been no embarrassing parenting moments. She is just starting to explore, and we are letting her do and see things. We are also first-time parents, so we are all adjusting and learning.

Can you share a memorable Doha moment?
The most memorable moment for me would be the day I found out I was pregnant. In 2011, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which made it difficult for me to get pregnant. By 2014, I was physically, mentally and emotionally tired of trying, so I told myself that I would take a break. That September, my father died, and when I came back to Doha, I was still devastated and depressed. A few weeks later, my husband noticed I was acting strange, so he encouraged me to take a pregnancy test. I was reluctant but I took the test and was shocked to see those two positive lines form. When Rorie was born and I heard her first cry, I prayed and thanked God that finally I had a child of my own, my precious daughter.

What is something that your children have learned living in Qatar that they may not have learned in your home country?
To be independent and sociable. At just two months old, we needed to put Rorie in daycare so my husband and I could work. Being in daycare, she learned to play and mingle with other kids, which helped her to become outgoing and not shy—she has learned how to socialise. Now at almost two years, she is gradually learning how to feed herself, brush her teeth and put on her clothes. If she was living in the Philippines, I don’t think she would have learned these things at this stage because her grandparents would do it all for her rather than seeing her have any difficulties. We all know that grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren. (Sorry, grannies!)


The Habianus

Cristina, Lucian, Adrian, Robert
Years in Qatar: Six

What is your favourite family vacation destination?
Home in Romania. The landscapes and nature are so beautiful and unique, in particular, Alba Iulia with the medieval fortress and surrounding forests.

Describe your best parenting moment.
My best parenting moment was recently when my two sons started to play together and giggle and enjoy brotherhood.

...and your most embarrassing parenting moment.
My most embarrassing moment was when at a playgroup, my 16-month-old son presented me with a wallet that was not mine. I eventually found it belonged to another mum who had left the play area minutes before. Luckily I had her number and could call to apologise about the snatching incident.

Can you share a memorable Doha moment?
Oh yes, I met my husband in Doha! It was a pretty memorable first date when he offered to drive me around Doha, and I couldn’t make up my mind whether I needed the AC on or off. He ended up soaked in sweat by the end of the tour!

What is something that your children have learned living in Qatar that they may not have learned in your home country?
Dealing with diversity is what they do here on a daily basis. They wouldn’t have this opportunity back home.

How do you ensure that your children maintain strong relationships with family members who are not in Qatar?
We Skype quite frequently but also visit our families every year. We speak Romanian at home and have the grandparents over three months a year.


The Halldorsons

Cora, Tyler, Stella, Miller
Years in Qatar: Less than a year

What is your favourite fun spot in Qatar?
We love playing in Sheraton Park on the Corniche. It’s one of the few parks where small dogs on leash are allowed in Doha, so we can bring our fifth family member along—a West Highland Terrier named Angus—and have fun as a family.

Describe your best parenting moment.
When our daughter showed the confidence and strength to stand up for herself when being bullied at school.

...and your most embarrassing parenting moment.
Our three-year-old pulled the fire alarm in a 20-storey office building, prompting the evacuation of the entire building and summoning fire trucks.

Can you share a memorable Doha moment?
Last autumn, we drove out to see the Singing Sand Dunes for the first time. After playing in the sand for a while, we hiked back to our car only to find it surrounded by camels! Our kids saw camels in their natural environment, we had a laugh, and our dog had no idea what to think of these strange animals!

What is something that your children have learned living in Qatar that they may not have learned in your home country?
In Canada, we did a lot of camping in national and provincial parks in our holiday trailer. At first, the lack of organised campgrounds in Qatar threw us for a loop. Now we appreciate the freedom that comes with driving through the desert until you find the perfect spot, throwing up a tent at the water’s edge, and spending the day playing in the ocean with only dolphins for company. Camping at Zekreet also allowed our kids to learn more about astronomy, as the stargazing in Qatar is amazing—even better than some of the most remote places in North America.

How do you ensure that your children maintain strong relationships with family members who are not in Qatar?
Like most expats, Facetime and Skype factor heavily into keeping a strong bond with family back home. We’ve also tried to keep the old-fashioned mail system going, by sending cards, drawings and letters back home. Our kids love it when they get mail from Nana or Grandma. We are also planning vacations in “halfway” locations where we can meet up with family. This year we spent spring break in London and Paris with my sister and brother-in-law’s family, and hope to have visitors come to see us here, even though it’s a long flight from Western Canada.

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