Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Thought We Were Still Friends, Canada

Chances are if you're an expat in Qatar, you've got access to your some of your home country's government services by way of an embassy here.  I know this because of the highly scientific research I've done, which consisted of looking at my "Marhaba Map of Doha, 2011 Edition" and counting up all the little flags.  Based on my rigorous analysis, I was able to compile a list of embassies here in Doha:

Japan, Korea, Iran, Pakistan, France, Somalia, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Kuwait, Philippines, Syria, Turkey, Mauritania, Cyprus, Thailand, Macedonia, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Algeria, United Kingdom, Swaziland, Venezuela, Bahrain, Greece, Hungary, Libya, Kazakhstan, Brazil, The Netherlands, India, Vietnam, South Africa, Cuba, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Singapore, Eritrea—


—Palestine, Indonesia, Bangladesh, United States of America, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Senegal, Iraq, Russia, Poland, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Dominican Republic, and my personal favourite, Djibouti (no, I did not just make that one up).

Notice anybody missing?  Maybe a sweet young thing that's overly-polite and smells a little like maple syrup?  Talks incessantly about hockey?  Puts bacon on everything?  That's right.  At the time of printing, my map did not include a Canadian Embassy here in Qatar.

Ever since we left Canada two years ago, there's been talk about a Canadian Embassy opening here.  So, we've been waiting, along with our compatriots, but after awhile it didn't really seem to matter.  We haven't had to have a passport renewed, or need anything notarized.  Our point of contact, should we need anything, was the Canadian Embassy in Kuwait.  We'd get the occasional email from the Consulate, telling us about upcoming visits to Doha and inviting us to come to their make-shift office if we required their services.  We never went.

But it was still nice to know they were thinking about us.  And I day-dreamed about what an embassy here would be like.  It would open to great fanfare, all expat Canadians gathering on our newly-minted patch of Canadian soil, waving flags of the maple leaf, unitedly finding respite from some of the more frustrating aspects of Qatar.  There'd be a cardboard cut-out of Prime Minister Stephen Harper that many of us would mistake for the real thing and try to shake his hand.   We'd lament the time difference and the lack of a decent pub in which to watch the Stanley Cup play-offs. We'd share Tim Horton's coffee and donuts, and complain about the weather.  Jian Ghomeshi would MC.

And then a couple of weeks ago, we received another email from the Canadian Consulate, this time asking for volunteers for their Warden system, a communication network designed for responding to an emergency in Qatar.  I gave it a cursory scan and then did a double-take at the signature:

Embassy of Canada
Doha, State of Qatar

More extensive scientific research (Google) led to me to discover that the Canadian Embassy in Qatar was officially opened in March.  They have an ambassador and everything.  Apparently our Governor General and Minister of Foreign Affairs were here for the opening.  Frankly, I was a little offended that they never called.

Opening an embassy in a foreign country without inviting or informing the expatriate citizens in that country is a little like David Cronenberg premiering a movie on a 20-inch TV in his basement to his two next door neighbours who don't even have an interest in movies.  Talk about not knowing your target audience.

Let me present this metaphor:  Say I'm me, and Canada is my ex-boyfriend.  If you had an ex-boyfriend that you were still on pretty good terms with, and you still maintained written correspondence, and in turn he always let you know when he was going to be flying in for a couple of days, and even if you NEVER took him up on a single one of his dinner invitations, wouldn't you expect him to, at the very least, let you know that he's moving to town?

I would have come, Canada.  I would have made a big deal about it.  Maybe I even would have made Nanaimo bars.  But now, guess what?  When I go to Canada next week, I'm not calling you, either. The only difference will be that you will definitely know I'm there.

* * *

Embassy of Canada
Tornado Tower, 30th Floor
Corner of Majlis Al Taawon Street and Al Funduq Steet,
P.O. Box 24876
Doha, State of Qatar

Postal Address:
P.O. Box 24876
Doha, State of Qatar

Telephone: (974) 4419 9000
Fax: (974) 4419 9035

Hours of operation
By appointment only


  1. Totally. We've had the same thing with the Swiss embassy in Kuwait too. Switzerland is finally opening an embassy here too. We're hoping it's before passports need to be renewed and def want to have the option of denying an invitation to the grand opening.

  2. Donna,

    Sounds like a typical Canadian Government thing to do.

    By the way, if I haven't said before. I love your blog and I think you are an excellent storyteller.

    Take care. And of course if you hit Calgary on your vacation back to Canada, give us a call.

    Lisa & Myron

  3. From what I also read recently it is only being opened to promote trade, as such we still have to rely on Kuwait for all our needs.

    Make mine a double double.
    (on a positive note we should be getting some Timmies opening soon).

    1. To be honest, given the choice I'd probably take a Tim's over an embassy. Far more practical. Or a Canadian Tire. Wouldn't it be great to have a Canadian Tire here? A girl can dream, I guess...

  4. I'm with you on the Tim's. We've had to renew our passports here twice (which are routed to Kuwait, then Canada, then back to Kuwait and finally back to Qatar). The first time was during the Gulf War and Kuwait's Embassy was on limited staffing...and we were left sitting without passports while some of our Canadian friends were checking out of Qatar! Other than times like those, it's not so painful!
    Guess we just don't rate a full-fledged Embassy...

    1. That sounds painful, and a little bit scary!

      I am in Canada right now, and have just spent the day celebrating Canada Day with my boys. We even went to Tim Horton's for an iced cap, some frozen lemonades and a few Timbits yesterday. I hope you manage to make it home to enjoy some Canadiana like that every once in awhile!

  5. Found this post in my search for details of the Canadian embassy here. What a shame though that they will not be processing visa applications. Apparently for the gulf, all applications are still to be sent to Abu Dhabi. So now, what is their purpose again? :-)