Sofia & Maria – They’re Growing up fast


Seems like only yesterday when MB wrote the story of Sofia’s birth.

Two or so years later, baby sister Maria arrived. And two years later again, four years since he started, MB now finds himself sitting down to write the next installment.

And so, the chronicles of Sofia & Maria continue.

Previous posts:

1. Baptism
2. 1st Birthday
3. Feast of St Barbara
4. Sofia is 2!
5. Sofia’s got a sister – Welcome Baby Maria
6. Sofia & Maria – Birthday Time.
7. Tooth Fairy

Recently S&M celebrated Valentine’s Day with mom & dad R&E in Doha, Qatar, where R&E reside and work. Sofie’s 4th birthday took place on 10 February just past, and as ever, artistic mom R didn’t spare any effort for either occasion. As followers can see from mom R’s pics below, these two young ladies are growing up fast for sure.

However, whilst the family thrive and prosper in Qatar, their Lebanese homeland has all but collapsed economically, particulary in the last six months, and event more particularly in recent weeks. Ominously, according to many Lebanese friends on MB, the worst may be yet to come. The currency has lost 90% of its value against the dollar in the last year (and its still sliding), the banking system has lost the confidence of the people (with very good reason), prices of food and life’s other staples have sky-rocketed, and more than 50% on the population now lives in proverty. Crime levels, understandably, are rising. People with little savings, most of the population actually, are in dire straights. In a country that was once referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Mediterranian’, chronic unemployment, and even hunger, now stalk the land.

MB had a meeting with a client earlier this week. Lebanese national Walid. Walid informed MB that in 30 years on employment (mostly in Qatar), his reasonably well-paid wife had managed to save USD 400,000.00. Each month she would religiously send home her monthly savings to her bank account in Beirut. About two years back, at the suggestion of her bank, she converted her entire dollar savings into a local Lebanese pounds account. The Lebanese pound accounts were paying double the interest rate of the dollar accounts at that time, so it seemed appealing. Two years later, his wifes USD 400k is worth USD 40k – 90% of her life savings have disappeared. He has a similar tale to tell, but MB will not tell it as it,lest he depress readers too much. Sadly, the tale of Walid & his wife is replicated through hundreds of thousands of other ‘Walids’ and other ‘wives’.

MB works with many Lebanese. Most have now given up the ghost of ever returning to their homeland to work. That possibility may now not even exist for their young children. Sadly. Comparisons with Venezuala are often mentioned.

Sofia and Maria, thankfully, have many years to go before career decisions will need to be made. Let’s hope for better times for both of them, come that time.

Thanks to mom R for the following pics:

Photo Story – 6 of 7


Qatar.

MB currently resides in Qatar. It is probably most famous at present for being selected to host the 2022 football (real football) World Cup. Doha is the capital city and already a huge amount of redevelopment and infrastructure is underway to ensure a timely completion ahead of the games. Although there are still seven years to go before the event takes place, the Qataris are taking the opportunity to rebuild their entire capital city and are also modernising much of their countries roads and transport system. The new Doha airport which opened last year, after a few years delay to the works, is as modern as exists anywhere in the world.

The award of the World Cup to Qatar has come in for much criticism, but MB wrote a recent post on  the Qatar 2022 tournament, which he fully supports: https://michealdebarra.com/2015/06/05/qatar-2022-the-case-for/

Property rents are extremely high throughout Qatar and in Doha especially, compared to most places in the Middle East region, or even beyond. For decent rented accommodation one can expect to pay in the region of Euro 1,250 per month for a single room in a shared apartment, or in the region of Euro 2,250 per month for a single bedroom apartment. Consequently recent years have seen a vast amount of residential developments completed. Many more are either under construction or at architectural design stage.

The below pic was taken by MB a few nights back in the new Doha ‘des res’ area called ‘West Bay’

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

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