International Students Have Mixed Views regarding their Expectations of Doha


Photo by James Zach Hollo

Life inside Education City has exceeded the expectations of most of the international freshman students, a mere two months into the new academic year. Although it is only two months into the new academic year, the numerous facilities and opportunities in Education City have already thrilled many new students.

The Education City facilities and opportunities have wowed any but when these international students were asked about their views on Doha outside of Education City, reactions varied widely.

“Honestly speaking, the city is not as beautiful as it appeared to be in the pictures,” said Sohaib Ahmed, an international student from Pakistan who is a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Before coming to Doha, Ahmed stayed a few weeks in Dubai and had the impression that Doha would be similar to Dubai.

“Compared to Dubai, Doha still has a long way to go. There is so much construction here that it ruins the city’s beauty,” Ahmed added.

Ettaib Elmarabti, a student from Morocco, pointed out that the lack of greenery and vegetation in Doha is a noticeable feature of the city, whereas Irfan Helmy, a student at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, found high-speed driving the main characteristic of Qatar.

When it comes to social life and activities outside of Education City, many students also believe there “isn’t much to do in Doha,” as Sulaiman Mahmood, a freshman at CMU-Q said.

There is no nightlife in the country. The malls and shops close early at night and the city goes to sleep early too, Mahmood added.

New international students also mentioned that they are already running out of places to visit. Wajeeha Malik, a freshman at NU-Q, said that Doha is not only small, but there aren’t many places to explore. Souq Waqif, Corniche, Villagio and Katara are among the only popular places to go to, she said.

But not all students shared that opinion. Zeena Ojjeh, a freshman at NU-Q, said that she found the city “a lot more fun than (she) expected” and said that there is lots to do. Others who shared Ojjeh’s opinion said that Doha is a fast growing city and they always find something new to do here, whether it’s an exhibition, a festival or a concert.

Despite the lack of social hangout places, Ojjeh said that although Doha doesn’t compete with Dubai in terms of infrastructure development, it has placed heavy emphasis on local culture and traditions.

“In Doha, you see people wearing local thobes, (there are) Arabian style buildings and museums on Islamic history,” she said.

An odd thing, however, that Ojjeh encountered in this new city is that people stare a lot.

“Not only the men, but the Qatari women in the malls stare a lot at you,” she noted.

Malik also found that there is balance between traditions and modernization in Doha. She also liked the cultural mix here as people living here from different parts of the world are all bringing their traditions and customs together in one place.



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