The random new guy

villagio mall ceiling

“A table for one please”, I asked at the BS&G restaurant – “Do you want to sit inside or out”, the waiter replied. Now that’s a strange question being in Villagio indoor shopping mall. Even though they did this ‘da Vinci-like’ good job to make the ceiling in the mall look like a nice summer day with a cloudy blue sky, it looks all like inside to me …

anyway,

When you are an expat coming to a new country, it feels like you have to try and reinvent yourself again. You have to step out of your comfort zone… So for the last week I’ve been this random new guy who’s turning up at people’s houses, diner tables … most of the time not knowing a soul, except the few people who pull you on board and invite you to tag along.

But this seems to be normal. Everybody actually knows how you feel, what you are going through. The Qatar resident’s guide even suggests you try to say ‘yes’ to every occasion coming your way to meet new people and places – and that’s what I’m doing.

I have to say – I’m actually having a great time.

Drinks with fellow Belgians, Australian style rib eye steaks and Shepard pie dinners with my new friends, I even went wake boarding on my first weekend!

You get adopted quickly as a new ‘joiner’ and they become your new surrogate family almost overnight.

As good as it is for me to be able to put my feet under the table and get involved with the new families and their kids running around, playing with them and having fun, It gives a peace of mind for the people back ‘home’ to know that you get fed and slowly but surely start to find your way around in your new environment.

Still I like to switch off, go for a quiet dinner by myself… like today!

No Sweat, No Glory

What the * was I thinking? This was going to set me back, making me come late for work on the first day!!!

I’ve decided to start healthy by hitting the gym – now every day (…almost). At 6AM went up to the 19th floor to shake off the haze, clear my head – getting ready for a fresh start. Ran for half an hour – nothing serious – but after all the months of drinking beers and enjoying life it was definitely more than my body was used to. I jumped in the shower, came out, got dressed and was ready for another shower!! I just kept on sweating like an animal!! This was not what I’d planned for – as I love the breakfast buffet here in the hotel J!

Honestly, it’s warm – but nothing unbearable for now. Most of the time I am sitting inside anyway! I wonder how it’s going to be like at the weekend. This is going to be the first real test for me to see if I can ‘beat the heat’.

Tomorrow I’ll get introduced to a warm welcome ‘Thursday evening drink’ with new friends/colleagues to celebrate the start of the weekend. And YES, I will laugh with ALL you guys who were laughing with me because I had to start working on a Sunday. This – by the way – seriously messes with your head as you just can’t seem to remember which day of the week it actually is.

So the question is now – will I hit the gym tomorrow?

Laters!

What will tomorrow bring?

Now I took off from Brussels a couple of times over the last years. Malta, Sweden, the States, Finland, Spain just to name a few. Most of them work related, most of them with my main man! About now it almost becomes mandatory to tell the joke about me having spend more time abroad in a hotel bed with him then with my own wife.
Anyway, this takeoff was different – off to a new adventure, new life, new home, new Friends, new everything. I can’t say I feel sad, but there is definitely an edge to this departure that is almost to difficult to put into words.

Arriving in the hotel was almost like coming home. Mr M greeted me at the door as if it was yesterday we’ve said goodbye when my site visit was over.

Bags are unpacked now, time to see what tomorrow will bring…

X

Next stop: Doha Qatar

camelsign

 

This is it.
The last glass was raised today, the last of many!
I went over the geography, currency, address, phone number – I’m not going to have for a couple of weeks – with grandma assuring her that all will be fine…

What seemed to be taking ages is all of a sudden speeding towards me head on!
My bags are packed like a game of Tetris but then military style, just one Bag – 30Kg.

So what happened during the summer break you wonder? – not much… There was the annual exodus to escape the blistering heat in Qatar. Combine this with the Holy month of Ramadan and you get what I got: more precious time to spend with family and friends.
For the first time ever since I started working, I was home for more then two months!!!

It not only added an extra point to my body mass index, it also challenged my liver – a lot!

And I am Grateful!

Grateful for the extra two months to be with Kat and the kids,
for the last drinks with all my colleagues and friends at the ‘see you soon’ party,
for the fantastic BBQ steak with my main man PJ,
for the Holiday in Spain with my Family,

So the next stop: Doha, Qatar
Need more info now? Check out the Torch Hotel ☺ and get jealous!

Unfortunately it took to long for bureaucracy. My police clearance got older then 3 months so I could start all over again with part of the paperwork… but it’s an easy task if you know how. The costs and the civil servant’s bad mood however stay the same…

CU when I get there!

V. Al Senoy

Labyrinths of bureaucracy, Kafka anno 2014

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It was a Monday in January 2013 when I was sitting at ‘my desk’ on the 9th floor talking with my main man PJ when this first email arrived about a position in Qatar.  I remember it stated they were hoping I could help them with finding a right candidate- it could be myself or someone I knew!  ‘QATAR’ for crying out loud, let’s have a look on Google earth where this is…  A couple of minutes later I decided that this was not for me.  I talked with a few colleagues, saying that this could be a nice opportunity for them, but their reaction sounded pretty familiar topped with a couple of preconceived opinions about the country, culture and religion.

About a good half a year, a fantastic vacation in Spain and some BBQ’s later, the second mail arrived.  Miss K was standing in our daughter’s bedroom, when I asked her what she would think about us moving to Qatar.  Without blinking even once, she said: “sure, sounds like a plan…” … Glued to the floor for a second or two, I asked in disbelief: “really?”

Today, another 10 months, half a dozen interviews and a site visit later, my papers finally got accepted at the Qatar Embassy.  But this task was already one which tested the borders of bureaucracy, my wallet and sanity!

From the first document we were going back and forward and actually there is nobody, and I really mean NOBODY, who knows what you should do in your specific situation.  We were so frustrated that there wasn’t a person along our track who could tell us what to do and how to do it, so my dad and I had to find out the hard way…

We went 7 times to the Qatar embassy before they accepted my papers, and I have to go one last time to collect them.

If you are reading this post and want to move to Qatar for work, pay attention here and now, because the next paragraph is worth at least a some euros, weeks and trips to Brussels.  Now that I’m at the end of this ‘stage’ and have an overview over what they actually mean and really want, I’m gonna pay this forward… my good deed of today🙂  I’m going to try and save you from a labyrinth of bureaucracy.  However, … you can never be a 100% sure this is going to work… they are after all aces in thinking of something extra to do…

Step nr 1: Find a translator who has done this type of translations before… not every translator knows the drill apparently…

Step nr 2: Collect all your documents and get them stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs BEFORE you send them off to the translator. (Each stamp-apostille = 20€)

There are 2 types of documents you have to collect:
If you get documents from your local ‘population service’ (Birth certificates, Marriage certificate, …) make sure the only person who places a signature is the mayor or the first councillor, if not, you’ll be going back and forwards at least twice… (the mayor his signature is the only signature the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has in a database for these type of documents)

All documents concerning diploma’s / Education need to have a signature of the director of the university (this is the only signature the Ministry of the Flemish Community has in their database), Even if the original document doesn’t have a signature, get one!  Mind you, all extra signatures will add more money to your translation bill and the autentication of diplomas at Ministry of the Flemish Community is only possible on Monday morning/afternoon and Wednesday afternoon so check the website before you leave!

ie. a marriage certificate has to have a signature from the mayor;  A diploma has to have a signature of the director, you have to go to the Ministry of the Flemish Community first (stamp here is for FREE) and then you can move on to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Step nr 3: Get your documents translated in English (try to avoid translations to Arabic because they are twice as expensive).  Make sure the original document is attached to the translation with an official seal of the translator.  Usually the translator will get the documents stamped at the Court of First Instance where he/she (the translator) is registered for the authenticity of the translator’s signature.  After this step you should have a document with about 2 signatures and three stamps… and a bill to pay.

Step nr 4: Next step is the Ministry of Justice.  you’ll need your ID card at hand.  They will confirm the authenticity of the signatures of the court of first instance (stamp is for FREE).
Now all the documents are ready to be carried to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a second time.  This time you’ll get your translation stamped (don’t forget your wallet)

Step nr 5: Count the amount of sets (original and translation) you have.  Make 2 photocopies of every set of documents (original and translation) with all the stamps and signatures visible.  Normally you have to wire transfer 5€ per original set (not the copies) to the embassy, but check the website to make sure.  Make sure you have a original proof of payment and two copies of this as well.

Step nr 6:  Go to the embassy of Qatar within ten days of your payment.  Ring the bell and wait for security, even if the gate is open, do NOT enter🙂 ! keep your ID card at hand and show it to the security personnel.  They’ll bring you to the desk where you might have to knock on the window.  The person behind the counter (a real Qatari, mind you) will be turning each page for a couple of times going over it to see if there are any problems at first sight, If they are happy you can come back after a week to collect your documents…

To be honest, even now – it would surprise me if you could manage it correct from the first time, but if this works – and you arrive in Doha, Qatar – you owe me a drink or 2!

Cheers!

K.

ps: forgot to mention: you can only speak French (or Arabic?) at the Embassy… no English, so dust your French vocabulary a bit…