So I arrived in Doha in 2007 with nothing but the phone number o the GM who employed me. I had a couple of emails of "friends of friends of friends" and nothing else.
I sat in my hotel room that first night and thought, OK, so this is it. I can be pathetic and sit here night after night and eat my way through the really bad room service menu. Or I can get out and find friends.
With that I, alone and wearing a red dress, went to a meeting of the local Australian business group. I knew not a soul in the room and recognized only the Australian accent. At that event, held at the dearly departed Rydges Doha, I met someone who will be a part of my life always. In the ensuing weeks, through other means, I also met two other people who I now also count as among my closest friends. All three people I can (and have) depend upon in tough times and rely on to slap me around when I get Hollywood Style hysterical or when i refuse to leave my flat.
So it was hard work. It went against every only child tendency in my system. And it also amazingly rewarding and sometimes downright scary. Other people I came to meet in my journey, it seems had an easier road. Many people come here, recruited by large companies and organizations with in built social networks of drinks nights, events, parties. I felt slightly envious of them to be honest. No hard work was needed.
One such network I ended up on the periphery of in the first year I was in Doha and frankly found it so cultish in their desire to live, work and so it seems sleep with each other, I thankfully retreated to safer and less incestuous pastures.
I am a trained observer and I have seen and met many types of people at work in Doha. It's a small place. The expat population is even smaller. It's like a microcosm of any large city, just richer and dustier.
Four years here has led me to identify several species in their unnatural habitat:
CHRONIC NETWORKER: This person networks for the sake of networking. Attending event after event and "working the room" for no apparent tangible benefit other than perhaps a free drink and a handful of business cards of people who may or may not remember them.
SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTER/SOCIAL CLIMBER: We all know them. We may even be one. Those folks in everything (magazines, bars, your personal space) but a bath all seeking to further their careers or maybe not even their careers. Big fish in a small pond.
WAITY KATIE: This is the "friend" who can't commit and says they "will play it by ear" meaning "I'll hedge until something better comes along". Terrible disease very prevalent in Doha.
PARTY HEARTY: Every hour past 6pm is "happy hour". These folks are fun fun fun. Often seen holding up the bar at Admirals. Please don't call before 12pm on a Saturday though.
THE GROUPER: Seen only in a large group of people at any given time. This group must only be made up of people from their workplace because they are the coolest, hippest most connected and with it folks ever. Also, how else can you get the discount?
THE DORY: Catch this person for five seconds, because that's all you have before they move onto someone else. Always scanning the room for fresh prey.
EMBASSY SWEETS: These are those in the large diplomatic corps in this country as well as the ecosystem that has developed around them. Lovely people. Well traveled. Amazing parties. Can get pork.
THE EXPAT EXPAT: Anyone you know, they've known longer. Speak Arabic? They speak it fluently with a Qatari accent. Oh, and they also tend to get shouty with the "help" and remember when you could get a villa for QR2000 a month.
Where do I fit into this analysis? Let's be honest, any expat can see a little of themselves in every one of these groups. However, I maintain the right to judge.