Posted by The Reluctant Emigrant—Denise Hession in Features.

There was a time when travel was considered a pleasurable mission, a pastime, something to look forward to in the year. Despite where you were going the travel itself for many was as enjoyable.

Before I emigrated, my travel was pretty much limited to two weeks with the kids in Spain during the summer and perhaps an adult weekend in Paris or Brussels during the year. My favourite part of the holiday in Fuerteventura, was the few hours in the airport before we left, nails done, hair done, new sandals on the kids, Nintendo’s charged, a drink or three in the airport bar before being called for the flight and we before we even left, we had arrived. We worked hard all year and this was the reward, we were made up.

Since emigrating, my travel has been exclusively limited to going home to Ireland. The feeling is the same. We put the year in Doha, Abu Dhabi, Jakarta wherever and enjoy that day we’re returning home. Spirits (Cork Dry) are high in the airport, kids looking forward to seeing Granny, me looking forward to seeing Brown Thomas, everyone is in jinx. But not anymore and maybe not ever again. Since terror attacks have become more frequent and less indiscriminate, travel has become a fearful must, a fretful journey just to get to the other side, alive. But the burning question is, how are these people walking past security with explosives strapping to their bodies, when I’m made open and taste Ella’s pouches at security?

Where is the pleasure in worrying if you’re travel time varied by ten minutes, one day, a week, would be a victim in some random/pre-conceived terror attack and of all the explosives that are detonated, how many were planned but are not?

As fear creeps into the psyche of every rational person, I have received several messages from home expressing concern of the safety of Qatar. Ironically being a westerner here in Qatar, possibly one of the strictest Muslim communities in the world, I feel safer than if I was anywhere in Europe. According to the Golden Visa, World Safety Index, Qatar has been voted the second safest country in the world, the rankings were compiled using data from the United Nations, World Health Organisation, Vision for Humanity, the International Labor Organisation and UN University. Qatar came first in three of the ten major categories that contribute to internal safety; it has low levels of unemployment; is at a limited risk for terrorism attacks and is unlikely to suffer from natural disasters.

Of course the biggest contributing factor to Qatar’s safety is the cast iron residency and visa entry rules. A letter from a Qatar-based companies, an upper case hotel reservation and a passport from an accepted country are just some of the basic entry requirements. Payment for a one-month entry visa must be paid by a credit card in the name of the entrant. To leave the country expats need an approved exit visa. Should there be an issue with a resident, Qatari emigration will simple take the person from their home/work/hotel, bring directly to the airport where they will be treated to a one-way flight back to their own country, as happened to our compound security guard last week.

You cannot rent a house, a car, a bike or a DVD without national identification, you cannot buy currency, transfer money or lodge money to an account, even your own, without your national identification card. You cannot see a doctor, dentist, buy a sim card or a laptop without national identification. If you want to live in a country without crime, terror and threat, come to Qatar and leave from Qatar because a flight originating in Qatar is probably one of the safest in the world. Discriminate control, exactly what us Europeans avoid, now to our detriment.

Incidentally Qatar, fairs less well in other categories, such as pollution, it came 66th out of 70 nations and 46th in terms of cost of living and a rising inflation rate. So the lesson is, if you live in Qatar you won’t get robbed, attacked or washed away in a tsunami, the only thing that’s likely to kill you here is the cost of living and the air that you breathe.

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