Lockdown on assignment in Qatar
What’s life like working on assignment in Qatar during lockdown? We caught up with Alan Brown who is a consultant production forecasting lead and part of the OPC team of consultants working in Doha.
What’s the lockdown like in Doha?
“Things are pretty cut and dried here in terms of restrictions. All commercial establishments, apart from food stores and medical facilities, are closed. Restaurants remain open but only for takeaway and delivery. But we have no toilet paper shortages!”
How has the virus impacted the country?
“Fatalities are low – around 75 in total – but with a small population, it can seem a high percentage. What makes us a bit of a test tube is that the majority (90%) of the population is immigrant workers, so by definition we have very few children and old people. We also have a world class medical system. Getting an appointment is not a problem.”
How is Qatar tracking the virus?
“The Health App is mandatory. It shows your status as a large (green!) QR code on your phone and can update if your phone has been in close proximity to an infected or quarantined person. Supermarkets will deny entry if you cannot show your code. Skin temperatures are taken also, although with outside temperatures exceeding 40 C it’s difficult to keep yourself below 37 at times.”
How has work been affected?
Work was difficult at first while we got used to the new normal, but tools like Webex have helped. Although it does show how valuable face to face conversations were. Work itself is the same. Oil and gas is a 24/7 operation and that has not changed. Things get a little slower when contractors who should be offshore are onshore in quarantine, but the work goes on. We still have targets to hit.
Are restrictions beginning to lift?
The government has recently announced a four phase plan to lift restrictions from 15 June so we are looking forward to having more places to visit. Flights restrictions remain in place until August.
What is Doha like in normal conditions?
Doha is an open, clean, and modern city. With the impending 2022 World Cup they are building fabulous state of the art stadiums, all air conditioned. People are genuinely friendly. Most “A” roads here are 8 lane highways, making navigation an art but fortunately there is a brand spanking new underground rail system. Each journey costs the equivalent of 40p. Uber is everywhere. 4G is everywhere, 5G in some homes already I believe.
What are you looking forward to doing once restrictions are lifted?
Just being able to get out of the apartment to parks, restaurants and malls would be wonderful. But I’m particularly looking forward to going scuba diving again. Before lockdown I was diving most weekends. Bathwater-temperature water, shallow sea, loads of wrecks to visit. Even beach dives. Park on the beach, kit up and walk in the sea. The reefs are only a 10 minute swim away. I will be there first chance I get!
Alan on a dive in Qatar before the pandemic lockdown