‘A new chapter’: How 3 Singapore pilots started F&B joints in Qatar

Xuan Tea is strategically located along a stretch of shops in the Bin Mahmoud area of Doha.

“We found huge potential in this area. It is near the cross section, and at least eight cabin crew accommodations were within a 5km radius,” said Mr Chou.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and Mr Chou was stranded in Singapore between March and November 2020. He had to close the business for a couple of months, then got a friend to run it while he helped from Singapore.

He was laid off as a pilot in November that year. 

“I started airline flying in 2014, and I always let nature take its course. When things happen, you just have to deal with it, overcome the obstacles, find something else to do and start a new chapter,” he said.


Mr Lim Yee Min’s entrepreneurship journey also began with bubble tea. A former pilot who has lived in Doha for seven years, he longed for a taste of home.

“I felt like there was nothing here that reminds me of home, of Singapore,” recalled Mr Lim.

So in 2020, the Singaporean partnered with another business to open bubble tea shop Tabiboba. That one shop eventually become a chain of eight outlets.

But Mr Lim was not done – he had food on his mind. So he negotiated a deal with a chicken rice brand in Singapore and underwent training.

After two months of waking up at 5am and learning to make chicken rice, he was ready to strike out on his own.

“I didn’t know anything about restaurants, only about bubble tea. I do know that the bigger the shop, the riskier it is, so I thought I’d just start with a small shop first.”