20 Things You Need to Know before Moving to Qatar
Qatar is undeniably a coveted destination for travelers across the globe. Its fame has been super highlighted after the controversial selection for the FIFA 2022 world cup.
The already desirable and attractive future of Qatar is probably among the reasons you plan to move. There is however, a lot of information you need to arm yourself with before embarking on that flight bound for Qatar.
This therefore, is my guide of 20 things you need to know before moving to moving to Qatar.
Qatari Way of Life
You will find it easy to integrate into the culture and make local friends because of the diversity and the general tight-knit neighborhood way of life. If you are thinking of moving into the country with your family, you will not be bored—not with the abundance and variety of cultural events.
I would finally suggest that you should be aware and respectful to the Muslim culture in the country as it is intense. This includes your mode of dressing such as avoiding public display of affection and keeping up modest dressing among women.
Do not take it personally when a Qatari refuses to shake hands if you are off the opposite sex and you will be good to go.
The only problem to anticipate with a visa in Qatar is the period of time you might spend waiting for the processing. Although it is a simple process it surprisingly takes quite a bit of time. It is still fairly easy. There are three types; a tourist, residence, and business visa.
You will only qualify for a residence visa either if you are sponsored by a company meeting a minimum threshold or a relative is sponsored hence earns an amount meeting the threshold.
Apart from a medical test, you will also need to find a job, get a work entry visa before applying for the residence permit.
Jobs in Qatar
Most expats make work arrangements before arriving in the country. Finding a job will be easy as long as you have the skills they require. You will probably be in the gas, oil and construction industries which are always recruiting.
Recruitment agencies are not many so you might be doing the job search by yourself by handing you CV personally. Salary packages are attractive especially with tax exemption and time is not strenuous.
Healthcare in Qatar
There are very high standards of health that rank highly in the region and even compete favorably globally. The public package is accessible to expats simply with a health card.
Most expats however, take international health insurance plans before moving in because the local public system may be very costly especially for inpatient care, tests and even consultations.
Education in Qatar
There are local and private international schools options for children. Most expats opt for private schools to take advantage of the variety in curricula including British, American and the International Baccalaureate.
The most important part will be to ensure the school you choose is recognized back home and accredited locally. Live near your school or you will be caught up in traffic for hours during rush hour picking your kids from schools as school buses are not common and traffic is crazy.
Accommodation in Qatar
Apartments, expat compounds, individual villas are available. Renting is the obvious and most reasonable option. Most of the expats here opt for compounds for the sense security in groups first. Here, you can create friends and make a social life sharing gyms, pools, cafes, dry cleaners and more.
Cost of Living in Qatar
Petrol is amazingly cheap but this is the only cheap commodity as over 90% of the food is imported. Entertainment costs are slowly but steadily rising. Traveling back home may be free but any other additional flight costs you approximately $1000.
Driving in Qatar
Qatar has a reputation of crazy driving as much as it is a necessity. Since the bus system is limited and taxis are strangled under constraining laws, you will have to endure the crazy dangerous roads. A driving license from any country is acceptable for driving a rental car.
You will then have to find an international Driver’s License valid for six months. With a residence permit, you will have to get a Qatari License.
Qatar Exit Policies
The efficient system of managing expats ensures that your employer determines your exit—even emergency visits back home. Multi-exit permits are reserved for high-ranking employees but permits depend on specific company rules.
For a lady under their husband’s sponsorship, exit is unlimited as per their needs.
Women Rights in Qatar
If you are a woman, do not worry about all the news about radicalization in the Arab World. You are permitted to drive for instance. Although you are free to dress as you please, you have to be modest and cover your knees shoulders, cleavage and midriff.
Alcohol (Qatar Liquor Permit)
Alcohol is not as widely sold as you may be used to see in your neighborhood. Most hotels have licenses but note that national rules and regulations are very strict so be aware of the zero-tolerance on drinking driving. You may apply for an alcohol permit to consume it at home.
Pork Consumption Rules
Pork may be allowed for consumption but is not on sale in any restaurant. It is strictly for home consumption.
Travelling in Qatar
Without a consistent or reliable public transport system, car rental companies will be your solution to travel across the country. The large turnover rates for expats make it possible to get a good second-hand car if you need to buy one. It is also very a very limited place to enjoy long safaris.
Traveling far from the Arab continent you might have never experienced harsh summers in the desert. Here, the temperatures hit and maintain a high of 50. You might not need worry because you will spend most of the time in air-conditioned spaces.
Law and order
You may have probably heard that laws are strict here. The fact is even the things you might deem as petty are taken very seriously. The rules extend to morality and this is where most foreigners struggle to live by. For example, sex between the unmarried attracts strict penalty. You may also not want to consume alcohol in public.
You should be able to save money because of tax exemption once you get the residence permit. Most encouraging is that entertainment is constrained hence there is a limited source of avenues to spend your income.
Coming from a swift congested urban setting, you will need to be patient with the slow paced relaxation mode of Qatar. Government offices work begins at 6 a.m. in the morning and closes at 1p.m in the early afternoon. Banks also close at 1 pm after only 5 hours of operation.
Holidays & Festivals in Qatar
The local customs demand that religious be honored. The Holy month of Ramadan, for example, you will not be able to eat in public during the day. This goes without saying that restaurants will remain closed all day.
Forced Summer Vacation
With a very hot summer reaching highs of 50 degrees, the desert county is transformed into ghost towns between the months of June to August. Almost every activity slows down with the intensity of heat. Many people also leave for their vacation leaving the cities virtually empty.
Mobile options in Qatar
There are only two telecommunication companies in the entire small country. Limited to only Ooredoo and Vodafone to process your monthly contracts, you may have to live with a pay as you go service available on Ooredo.