Living in the Covid-19 crisis: why I chose Qatar over Poland. 04 April, 2020

Living in the Covid-19 crisis: why I chose Qatar over Poland.

There it is, my first post about the current crisis. I apologize to those of you who are sick and tired of reading about it. I do have some points to raise, though. It’s mostly because of people’s reactions to what’s happening in my life at the moment, and their follow-up questions 🙂 . Also, I thought this post might provide some reassurance to other expats who chose Qatar as the place to be during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those of you who follow my life (and my previous blog posts 😉 ) know that I was forced to make an instant decision of whether I want to be locked down with my family in Poland, or in Qatar. We consider ourselves fortunate, as we had a choice in that matter (being Polish nationals but at the same time residents in Qatar).

While we were making this decision, no lockdown had been introduced yet, and in both countries the discovered Covid-19 cases were way below 500. So what made us choose Qatar?

1. All other reasons aside: I had a feeling that once the borders close, God knows when they’ll reopen.

Turns out, I was right. And why did it matter so much? It’s simple: I didn’t fancy spending months in isolation without my husband, who has been continuously working in Qatar. As one of my friends put it: family has to stay together!

2. I got a job, in Qatar. Some might call it a “sign”, I call it the biggest coincidence that has ever happened to me.

The offer letter landed in my email on the very day of our scheduled departure to Doha. If I stayed in Poland, I would have missed this opportunity.

3. A simple assumption: the richest country in the world will stand a higher chance of swift success in battling the pandemic than a country where public health care is notoriously underfinanced.

Covid-19 is as unexpected in Qatar as it is anywhere else. And it certainly won’t hurt to have practically unlimited resources to fight it.

4. Qatar has the highest number of doctors per capita (see HERE).

Don’t know about you, but I find that reassuring 🙂 Meanwhile, in the same ranking, Poland is nowhere to be seen…

5. The healthcare system in Qatar is also ranked as one of the best in the world (see HERE).

I’ve gotten a chance to “test” Qatar’s public healthcare while delivering my second child (you can read about my experience here). I really can’t fault it in any way.

6. Qatar is a small country and, thanks to the blockade imposed back in 2017, there are currently only two ways to enter: via Hamad International Airport, or Hamad Port.

Since 18th of March, arrival to Qatar has been restricted to the nationals willing to return. No expats are able to enter anymore. That surely makes things easier to manage.

7. The approach towards restrictions imposed by the government is much different in Qatar and in Poland.

In Qatar, support for the actions of the government seems to be much higher than in Poland. And not only that. People are actually ASKING for more restrictions! If you read a “comments” section under any recent article regarding Covid-19 in Qatar, you will see that most of the commenters are calling for a complete lockdown. In the meantime in Poland, a lot of what the government does is met with opposition from society. It doesn’t help that some of the restrictions in place don’t make much sense to people. For example, it’s now forbidden to go to a forest UNLESS you’re a hunter and you’re going there to hunt. There might be some sort of an explanation, but it’s not widely available and people are understandably upset.

8. The fact that Qatar is a small country is also reflected in the number of tests they are able to conduct per 1M of the total population (data is available HERE).

As of today (4th of April), in Qatar, it’s almost 10,000 tests / 1M pop., while in Poland the number is less than 1,800.

9. I know a couple of people working in EU embassies in Doha. They were all advised by their governments to wait out the crisis in Qatar.

If that’s not reassuring then I don’t know what is. 😉 Sure, the number of Covid-19 cases in Qatar is growing, but that’s to be expected – no country can “miraculously” instantly stop the pandemic in its tracks. So far, however, Qatar has managed to “flatten the curve” pretty well: we don’t see hospitals filled up to the last bed, or overworked medical professionals fighting for every minute of sleep.

10. I missed Qatar since the moment I moved out and had been tirelessly looking for an opportunity to move back!

Granted, the circumstances are not perfect, but this too shall pass. 🙂

Keep healthy, keep safe! xx

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