Shedding light on a country that few know much about, except for its vast oil wealth, British writer Nick Kelly has published a two-book series, One Hundred Years in Qatar, with the first book, The House of Fortune, followed by Single Man Dancing Alone.

The author’s meticulous research and experience of having lived and worked in Qatar for 23 years adds an authenticity to the plots of both novels and their expertly-developed and fascinating and vivid characters.

Interweaving the stories of both novels not only showcases the author’s accomplished writing, but immerses the reader in a delightful fusion of romance, history, family saga and more.

The One Hundred Years in Qatar series epitomises everything a reader hopes to find in a ‘great read’. It makes perfect reading when the world’s spotlight will be focussed on this intriguing nation as it hosts FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

Kelly spent 25 years in the Middle East, teaching English with VSO in Egypt and then in Qatar where he worked with Qatar TV. He then worked as a freelance news reader on BBC World Service radio for nearly 20 years until 2020 when he decided to concentrate on writing and painting. Kelly started writing seriously about 10 years ago when he began writing The House of Fortune. He studied Creative Writing and Advanced Creative Writing at the Open University, managing to get an honours degree. ‘I love travelling and walking, always with a sketch pad and a newly-sharpened pencil to get the latest ideas down on paper – be it in words or pictures,’ said Kelly.

The House of Fortune was published in May 2019 and Single Man Dancing Alone was published in November 2021. ‘The first novel, The House of Fortune, took eight years to write. The sequel, Single Man Dancing Alone, just two years during the lockdown months,’ said Kelly. ‘The idea for The House of Fortune began during the first Gulf War in 1990/91. I decided to create a fictional Qatari family. I planned a family tree from the end of the 19th century until the present day. I put the family in Al Mafjar on the northeast coast. It’s a place I used to love going to – very unspoilt and quiet. This was long before Ras Laffan became a gas terminal. I wanted to show the hardship of the pearling families. I also wanted to show the resilience of the Qatari people by the oldest member of the family describing the battle of Wajbah and the defeat of the Ottomans. Then the British relationship and how Qatar gained independence. The house in question becomes the main focus of the first book. It is based on the wind tower house in the centre of Souq Al Najada,’ added Kelly.

The first book deals with the period from the 1920s to the 1970s. The second book deals with the period from the 1970s to the present day.

‘The second book is based on my life in Qatar. My character is a young teacher. He meets the family in The House of Fortune and this changes him forever. There is a conflict between west and east as he learns more about the traditions and culture that he sees within the family. He forms a close relationship with the eldest son of the family,’ said Kelly.

The House of Fortune

On the remote far northeast coast of Qatar a village awaits the return of its menfolk from long days of diving for pearls. It’s the summer of 1928 and life is hard. Pearling is the only means of income and if the divers don’t do well the villagers won’t be able to survive.

The Al Bahr family live in Al Mafjar and Al Khor; some are fortunate, some are not. Lubna Al Bahr will have to marry soon, but who will her parents choose for her? Despite the hardships, she is happy living a simple life with her mother, father and brother in the village, but all this could soon change. Through the turmoil of war and dramatic times in the Middle East, The House of Fortune follows the family through the decades, interchanging with events in Cairo, Kuwait and Qatar where just as the colonial days appear to be over, oil becomes the focus of attention.

Now Qatar is the richest nation on earth, but what was it like in the formative times of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s as a nation was created? The simple ways of the desert and the sea yield to the demand for development. The Al Bahr family try to change with the times and one particular house becomes the focus of daily life, but can those within its walls adapt to the dramatic circumstances they face?

Single Man Dancing Alone

James O’Bryan arrives in Qatar in 1977 to take up his post as an English teacher. His intention is to stay for two years and then continue his travels. However, when he meets the Al Bahr family he becomes drawn into the Qatari way of life, developing a kinship with the eldest son, Fahd, who is an artist.

Over the years, as James makes friends with both expats and Qataris, he finds himself torn between two different cultures, enjoying fun in the sun as well as the traditions and kindness of the Qatari family.

In The House of Fortune, the first in the two-book series, Al Bahr’s humble beginnings in the pearl-diving days of the 1920s change over the next fifty years. In Single Man Dancing Alone, the development in Qatar during the next 50 years is so great that by the time the country is awarded the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ their wealth is enormous. Through James and the family, we witness the momentous events that altered the course of Qatar’s history and experience at first hand the choices that a man must make between east and west.

Both books are independently published, and available on Amazon as follows:

The House of Fortune – paperback (£14.99) – and Kindle format (£2.99) –

Single Man Dancing Alone – paperback (£15.52) – and Kindle format (£3.99) –