Monday, May 11, 2015


I am happy about this post not only because the Arabian Starbucks kicks American Starbucks butt but also because it means I had a really great excuse to return to it!

I will be the first one to say that I love Starbucks. When they built one on campus at Texas A&M my senior year I literally altered my diet and had sweet potatoes for dinner most nights in order to squeeze as many drinks as possible into my dining dollar budget. It was a problem. 

I also want to dedicate this post to my former boss Chris Baxter -- she may be the first (and only) woman that I have met that loves Starbucks even more than I do. PLUS I miss her so Chris, this is for you!! 😘 

Starbucks in Doha are nearly as easy to come by as they are in Seatle. This makes it no surprise that there are TWO in City Center Mall, one of which Zach and I visited today. 
Here is Starbucks written in Arabic. 
Surprisingly though, over the main entrance it is written in English. 
& yes that is a shopping cart out front, likely from Carrefour. This is very common! Shopping carts are literally everywhere in this city! Consumerism at its best lol

So when you walk in the look is just the same as a typical American Starbucks, even the music is the same!
The difference that you notice almost immediately though is that these things are HUGE!
Especially in comparison to American Starbucks where there are only one or two good comfy chairs and they are ALWAYS taken. 

Here, you never have any trouble finding a spot. 
It just goes on...
And on...
And ON!!
Notice too the view we have here-- it is second floor so you get to see right down the streets of downtown! Especially beautiful lit up at night like it was for us tonight! 

When it comes to the drinks themselves, they do not disappoint. Friends of mine (particularly a friend who loves to travel around the world and try all types of coffee and ONLY drinks it black (yes you meet some pretty cool travelers here!)) say that the beans here are actually the exact same as the ones used in the states. This may sound like no big deal but what you find is that many chains abroad, Dunkin Donuts for example, use different ingredients depending on the region. Here, that is just not a concern! 
You can even find your perfect overpriced mug! 
Pastries though I would say are very different than the states. Back home in (at least in the Starbucks that I visited) the trend was moving towards little snack boxes, sandwiches and weird chocolate covered marshmallows and stuff on sticks...not here.
What you find here is much more decadent. 
Fresh baked cakes and pies of all varieties are what you will find here! This is a very common thing to see at coffee shops in Doha-- and I am not complaining! 
This person didn't even order a drink-- just came for the tiramisu! 
As for Zach and I -- you know we got that coffee. 😉
BUT the best part is -- they serve it up in real mugs for you!!!!! Ahhhhh it is the best! Especially when you are splitting it with your boo and get a giant venti mug! 

We did cheat a bit though and I ran across to another coffee shop and snagged a kronut to go with our coffee. 
Topped with Nutella. Hello YUM! 
This international Starbucks gets two big thumbs up from me! 
Not only this one, but all of the Starbucks in Doha! They all have these huge floor plans and real mugs!
Not to mention great service! Haha
Aslair and Lito. Lovin that latte life. 

Thanks & Gig 'Em! 


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fact or Fiction: DOHA

As soon as Zach and I found out that we could potentially move to Qatar we were all "OH HECK YES!" Which was immediately followed by "What in the heck is Qatar?" Lol 

Before Zach had even hung up the phone I was googling "Where is cutter?" and luckily google understood what I meant. 

I have to admit though that when the pin dropped in the Middle East, a wave of fear come over me. Of course we wanted to travel but why would anyone want to go somewhere so dangerous?? I thought. This was followed many many other questions like would we need to learn Arabic in order to live there? Would I have to wear a big cape to leave the house? Or most importantly does this mean that I have to give up Wine Wednesday?? 

 Luckily many of these rumors of the Middle East grew far exaggerated as they crossed the ocean and some of them are straight up false. So I am here to clear the air with a Doha version of True or False. 


Car bombs, war in the streets, American stalkers-- you name it, I thought it. 
This rumor actually turned out to be completely and totally FALSE

In fact, Qatar is actually rated within the top ten SAFEST countries in the ENTIRE world!!!!! ( Yes even safer ( by quite a bit in fact) than America!).  
This fact is not only written but you can really feel it when you are here. As many of you know, Zach and I live right in the middle of the city and literally, the streets outside throughout the day and even the night are silent. There are hardly any cars in the streets much less sirens, people chattering and music playing like we had in Houston. Now don't get me wrong, there is traffic and there are people walking about but really night life is not a big thing here. It is very much a family oriented city with parks almost everywhere you go covered with families having picnics and parents sliding down slides holding onto their little ones. 

Even so, we are always aware when going out and heir on the side of caution regardless. 


I am quite happy to tell you that this one is also FALSE! 
Although Arabic is the native language, literally everyone here is bilingual. Which makes me feel super dumb everyday for only being fluent in English. Most people here actually speak three or more languages which is the coolest thing ever. But again, very humbling. On top of that, all of the signs, menus, and even packaging for products are translated into both English and Arabic. I don't know about the rest of the Middle East but Doha has got this one on lock! 

My best attempt at writing my name in Arabic. ^^
Beyond the acceptance of English people even go as far as to compliment Zach and I on our pronunciation of English. We so don't deserve to be treated so graciously in a country where we are foreigners and don't speak the native language. This acceptance definitely makes me rethink those thoughts I had about Spanish in the US... 😁


I want to start this one by defining a Burka and the different versions of covering up in this way. It is basically a long loose garmet covering the entire body, usually in solid black, worn by Muslim women in public. Before coming to Doha, part of me feared that I would have to wear one and the other part of me thought it was all old school and no one really wore these anymore. I was wrong on both accounts. I do not in fact need to wear a burka in public so this one is FALSE but they are extremely common here. 
The difference in how they are worn and to what extent relate back to each women's preferences and her religious beliefs. 

Some women just wear hijabs which are head-wraps and pair them loose fitting clothing. 
These are often seen in bright colors matched with just as bold patterns-- I tend to like the more subtle look pictured below. 
A step further than this is to wear the full burka but add a little flair to it. This is probably the most popular and allows the women to be conservative but still show some of their own taste. I have seen everything from intricate embroidery to full out polka dot burkas. Another important note here are the accessories. Since the women are limited in how they can show their personal taste and style, it is normal to see extremely expensive and bold accessories like this handbag and sunglasses paired with the burkas. 
Other women who go a step further stick with the all black and even cover their face with just two eye holes punched out. 
While still other women go as far as to literally cover their entire bodies with a veil over their face and gloves on their hands. 
Hehe okay just kidding-- no snap back and Nike swish included.  These women really do take their garmets seriously and restrain from using any detailing in their clothing. 

Now although these burkas look simple, they are extremely intricately made and are very expensive to buy. The way the fabric is cut is almost a science with a goal of having it literally flow from the body. It is quite beautiful to see the garmet flow when these women walk about. A few months ago I wanted to try the things out for myself and went to a shop with a friend to try one on.  The one I tried was right at  about $4,500 dollars!! 
Luckily for women ( like me ) who are not Muslim or do not have this kind of dress within their religious beliefs, it is not at all required that they wear this at all. It is actually much more common to see women in "normal" clothing than in a burka or hijab. The unwritten rule of thumb is just to cover the knees and shoulders. Surprisingly, these standards are even expected of men. 
ALTHOUGH this rule of thumb varies depending on which part of town you are in and where you are going; for example, if you are going to a museum, the dress is more conservative but if you are going to a patio lunch at the Pearl you can dress with much less caution. 


This one just depends. Due to Qatar being a Muslim country, generally these two items are banned. How it works is that pork and alcoholare sold just outside of the city and under a certain license.  One must obtain the license, travel out to the alcohol and pork store and then only consume these foods in their homes (as long as your home or apartment allows such consumption). The one other way to get alcohol is at a hotel-- somehow most hotels have alcohol permits and call sell all of the martinis that could be found at any other bar around the world. Although we do not have the alcohol license, this one has not been a big deal for us. The only thing that I don't know if I can ever get used to is the beef pepperoni-- pizza is just not the same! 
Although Qatar is more conservative as a whole than America, we have been pleasantly surprised at the level of acceptance that has been shown to us. It took a little time to get used to at the start, but this new culture has already started to become a way of life for us. 

Shokran & Gig 'Em,