Back in Ireland escaping the heat and monotony of Qatar for the summer and it’s clear that the apart from ham sandwiches, wet afternoons and 8.99 wine the biggest thing we’re missing in Qatar is dynamic. Dynamic of extended family, dynamic of everyday life and dynamic of community.
Bear in mind that as expats we are hugely limited to a fairly one-dimensional dynamic in Qatar. We live with no extended family, little dynamic of daily life which runs surprising to routine, perhaps because there’s no extended family to kink the plan! But the single biggest loss must be the lack of dynamic within the community.
First and foremost as Qatar is not known for being a funky, fun loving destination for young people wishing to spread their wings and take a year out to work in a bar wearing a grass shirt and a tattoo, this omits the younger adults from the expat community. Westerners must be experienced and qualified before they are permitted into the country to live and work, with the result that people are generally thirty or so before they decide to move to Doha. Over 60’s are not granted work permits, even over 55’s in some companies, so this sector too are left standing outside of emigration, grass skirts in hand. So that leaves the 30 to 60 age-group and midst this only the very focused opt for Qatar over Quebec and Doha over Dubai. Those with a particular need for a fast buck, an established education system and a safe society to live in. Those who are willing to sacrifice BBQs in the evening and skiing in the morning in Canada and a life of glitz in Dubai for the consistency of Doha.
A profile of these people that make up the Irish expat community in Doha are, thirty/forty something professionals trying to pay a mortgage in D6 or buy a ranch Dunmanway. Folks like this are fine, but folks like these don’t necessarily invest in society they way others might. Qatar becomes a hive of busy money-making, child-raising and flight-booking bees that coast in Qatar making honey to bring home to their hive.
But here in Ireland, we are spoiled for dynamic. There is the vibrancy and enthusiasm of youth. The drive and can-do of mid-life and the wisdom and experience of later years. In Ireland we are surrounded by people in the community that add value. And none, in my opinion, more so than the over 60’s. Ironically one of the groups that are unwanted in Qatar! Invaluable to family life and well-loved grandparents the over 65’s are more vital and more participative today than ever before.
Healthier than ever before we are proud of our over 65’s and rely on them as parents, experienced co-workers and overall people worth regarding in the community; or so I thought. Then I read the headlines, IRELANDS AGING POPULATION SOON TO BE A DRAIN ON HEALTH SERVICE. I ran through all the likely ‘drains’ on the health service and that right now, rather than ‘soon’ there are 409 patients waiting on trolleys in corridors for beds. So which drains are causing this? One of the 1.2 million children, a quarter of whom are overweight but it’s not all about the fat kids, what about the 1.6 million people that have a medical card, the 479,113 that have a GP cards or would it be one of the 17.3% of the current Irelands residents that are born abroad that are placing the HSE under pressure to supply a bed.
If caring for the young is regarded as a given in a civilized society, how come caring for the elderly is being deemed an inconvenience. Quickly we seem to be turning into a society that knows the price of everything and value of nothing. Our elderly are adding value, to communities, families and workplaces. Are we going to start disregarding whole sectors based on age and moreover offering a ‘fair share, take the house from under you scheme’ to what are shaping up to be the last generation of homeowners, then our elderly are getting the same welcome in Ireland as they would in Qatar!