Sign in Register
Posted On: 13 May 2020 09:00 pm
Updated On: 14 May 2020 10:33 am

Everything you need to know about moving to Qatar

Nabeela
Nabeela
Content Writer
Discuss here!
Start a discussion
Moving-to-qatar

Home to fascinating culture, ancient architecture, and year-round sunshine, it’s no wonder Qatar is such an ideal destination for expats. According to Expat Insider Survey 2018, Qatar is clearly becoming increasingly popular with expats – especially expat families. This is mostly due to the rapid increase in the quality of education and healthcare, and the progressive nature of the country and its people.

Did you know, Doha -the capital of Qatar - was also recently given a listing as one of the 'Urban Wonders' by the New 7 Wonders Cities.

Are you planning on moving to Qatar? Are you wondering what it's like here and how you're going to find the ropes? We're here to help you with that. Read on to know more about Qatar and what to expect when you move here!

How safe is Qatar?

Qatar is the safest country I have ever lived in, and I have lived in a few. In fact, according to the

  • 2019 Global Peace Index, Qatar is the number 1 country in the Middle East and North Africa for the 11th year running.
  • Safe Cities Index 2017 published by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit, Qatar is the 2nd safest city in the Middle East and 30th worldwide.
  • 2017 annual Global Crime Index by Numbeo, Qatar has the 7th lowest crime rate in the world.
  • London Institute for Economics and Peace report, Qatar ranks 30th amongst 163 countries in term of safety.

Qataris and expats, alike, feel safe and comfortable in Qatar as the crime rate is so low; any thefts that do occur in the country are mostly petty ones and do not involve any weapons. If you talk to the people who live here, they will tell you that many times, they may have left their mobile phone or watch somewhere, or some other personal belonging only to return to the same place and find it’s still there. This is something that doesn’t happen everywhere, yet in Qatar it is very, very common.

The Qatari Police Force is very efficient and strives hard to ensure all people who live in Qatar – locals and expats – feel safe and secure. There is a huge presence of police in the country and they are vigilant. Very little escapes their notice. Still, sometimes, we hear a news report stating that a gang has been active or has been captured by the police or Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Qatar for stealing things from people’s houses or from their cars.

Expat community in Qatar

According to the World Population Review, Qatar has a population of approximately 2,873,565 people. Qatari citizens make up less than 15% of the total population, followed by other Arab (13%), Indian (24%), Nepali (16%), Filipino (11%) and Bangladesh and Sri Lankan (5% each). There are 250,000 Filipinos in the country, making them the third largest group of expatriates. The expat community in Qatar is huge with expats coming together under the flag of Qatar form all four corners of the globe. There's barely a nationality you won't find here!

Home to such a large and diverse expat community, the amount of expat support networks and communities are continually increasing and the online community is also very prevalent. There are plenty of online expat resources you can join to connect with fellow expats, share and receive advice.

Opening a bank account in Qatar

If you’ve just moved to Qatar you may have already taken in some of the sights like The Pearl or The Corniche, visited the wonderful shopping malls, strolled through Souq Waqif or eaten out in great restaurants. But in order to keep enjoying these experiences, if you are working for a foreign company on a visa, being employed by a local Qatari business, or beginning your own startup, you will soon discover that opening a Qatari bank account as soon as possible will become a top priority. This has become especially important since Qatar’s Wage Protection System was introduced three years ago, which stipulates that all workers employed in Qatar must have their salaries and wages paid into a Qatari bank account in Qatari Riyals.

For more information on how to open a bank account in Qatar, click on the following link: https://www.iloveqatar.net/guide/living/everything-you-need-to-know-for-opening-a-bank-account-in-qatar

We also have a list of the banks in Qatar to help you choose. Click on the following link: https://www.iloveqatar.net/guide/living/banks-in-qatar

Everything you need to know about moving to Qatar

Cost of living in Qatar

There's no doubt that the cost of living in Qatar can be very high, but if you're wondering whether the salary and benefits you're offered will cover your cost of living, the real answer to that question is -- it very much depends. It depends on exactly how and where you wish to spend your time and money, your life expectations, the district you wish to live in, the cost of the property you wish to rent, and a host of other factors.

Though some reports suggest that the cost of living in Qatar is, in general, one of the highest in the GCC,the truth is that there are so many options to choose from it could be easier to achieve a balanced level of costs than you think. For example, you may notice that some things are cheaper here than they are in the country you migrated from...while others may seem quite expensive. What's true is that Qatar is still a good place to save some money if you're a bit conscious about your pocket-book.

Want to know more about the cost of living in Qatar? Click on the following link: https://www.iloveqatar.net/news/general/cost-of-living-in-qatar-2

Renting a place in Qatar

Most people in Qatar, or should I say expats, prefer to rent rather than buy property even though Qatar has opened up parts of its housing properties to buy. This may be because of the high prices or because they aren’t sure whether they’re going to be in Qatar long enough to want to invest in a property here.

Whatever the reason, we want to make it easier for you to rent a stand-alone villa, villa in a compound, or an apartment.

So, we’re going to equip you with the leasing/rent laws in Qatar and give you some great tips to keep in mind when you rent or end the rent.

According to a research, the average person in Qatar spends at least 1/3 of their income on rent, and this indicates that housing can be an expensive proposition in Qatar. However, since the cost of utilities like gas, electricity and water is low in Qatar, it kind of balances out – at least to an extent!

For a complete guide on renting a place to live in Qatar, click on the following link: https://www.iloveqatar.net/guide/living/a-guide-to-renting-accomodation-in-qatar

Schools in Qatar

If you have a family, another major portion of your income will be spent on educating your children. There's a public school system in Qatar, and it's free -- but only for the locals. The truth is, that educational costs will vary a great deal and the school your child attends will be relative to your own individual circumstances. The quality of private schooling in Qatar is generally excellent, but can be expensive, so if you're on any kind of budget it pays to shop around.

Fees vary and are also relative to your child’s level of educational attainment or school grades. For example, kindergarten fees come in at around QR 24,000 per year, while fees at the wide range of high schools can be anything up to QR 70,000 annually. That's not including separate costs such as application fees, uniforms, and transport fees. There are also different schools for different nationalities, including Pakistani, Indian, and Filipino schools to name a few, and these can very often prove to be less expensive.

Before you commit to any one school, it's also useful to note that some employers will provide you with an allowance to offset school fees -- but it's always wise to make sure of this.

Healthcare in Qatar

Qatar has an incredibly well-developed medical infrastructure and the standards of healthcare in the country are very high. The country’s medical facilities – public and private clinics and hospitals – are all modern, hi-tech and easily accessible for residents and expatriates alike. Everyone is able to avail themselves of the health services that are financed by public money, and access is open to all, for people of all nationalities. The system comprises state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained professional staff, who operate within a nationwide system of hospitals and healthcare clinics.

Government Healthcare

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC)

HMC is the main provider of secondary and tertiary healthcare in Qatar, one of the leading hospital providers in the Middle East and a not-for-profit healthcare provider.. For more than four decades, HMC has been dedicated to delivering the safest, most effective and compassionate care to all its patients. HMC manages 12 hospitals – nine specialist hospitals and three community hospitals – as well as the National Ambulance Service and home and residential care services.

In January 2016, HMC achieved the significant distinction of becoming the first healthcare system across the globe to have all its hospitals accredited by Joint Commission International under the Academic Medical Center accreditation program. Additionally, the National Ambulance Service, Home Healthcare Service, Stroke Service and Palliative Care, have all received this prestigious accreditation since 2011.

HMC is leading the development of the region’s first academic health system – combining innovative research, top-class education and excellent clinical care – and is committed to building a legacy of healthcare expertise in Qatar. HMC collaborates with key partners who are experts in Qatar and beyond, including Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Partners Healthcare, Boston.

In general, if you have an emergency medical situation in Qatar, emergency treatment in Qatar’s government hospitals is free. If any follow up is required, you may be charged.

However, to see a doctor at HMC, you will first have to go to your local Primary Health Care Corporation Health Centre, which will refer you if necessary, otherwise the PHCC is well-equipped to deals with minor illnesses and injuries.

16060 is the number to call to schedule or change an appointment at HMC

Click the following for a list of all the government hospitals in Qatar: https://www.iloveqatar.net/guide/living/government-hospitals-in-qatar

Everything you need to know about moving to Qatar

Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC)

PHCC is dedicated to providing the people of Qatar - locals and expats - with healthcare facilities of the highest level by managing and operating Health Centres that cover almost all the different areas and towns across Qatar.

PHCC has 27+ Health Centres distributed into three main regions, namely the Central, the Western, and the Northern. Most of these centres are located within Doha, and the remaining Health Centres can be found in populated areas all over the Qatar. These Health Centres provide a wide variety of health services which depend on the location and the needs of each area with a set of objectives that focus mainly on maintaining the health and wellness of the people in Qatar and the provision of long-term and constant support to patients and their families.

These Health Centres are your first point of contact if you are not well. Once you have seen a doctor at the Health Centre in your area of residence, the doctor will decide if you need further medical treatment and will refer you to one of the main government hospitals based on your medical assessment.

Call 107 to make an appointment at a Health Centre.

For more information about the PHCC, please visit the following link: https://www.phcc.qa/portal_new/index/index.php?limit=home#

Hamad health card

In order to receive any kind of treatment at PHCC or HMC, you must first apply for and acquire a Hamad Health Card.

Click on the following link to find out how you can get a Hamad Health card: https://www.iloveqatar.net/guide/living/qatar-guide-how-to-get-your-hamad-health-card

Private Hospitals

Private Hospitals in Qatar are modern, well-equipped and have all the latest technologies and top-notch medical profesionals

However, if you use a private hospital, keep in mind that they can be quite costly, unless you have medical insurance. Many companies provide their employees and their family with comprehensive medical insurance, but not all do.

Need a list of private hospitals in Qatar? Click here: https://www.iloveqatar.net/guide/living/private-hospitals-and-clinics-in-qatar

Taxes in Qatar

Qatar is one of the few tax-free countries in the world, and has yet to implement Value Added Tax (VAT), income tax, capital tax or wealth tax.

Today, Qatar is on the way to developing its financial system and procedures to bring them up to par with international financial practices. Its aim is to enhance economic growth and to stabilise and secure itself financially. To achieve this aim, the Qatari government has introduced some new taxation laws today because it knows that the taxation system is an integral part of financial policies in many countries around the globe.

Salient points of Qatar's new tax laws

  • There are no adjustments on the income tax of any foreign investor’s share in companies (by 10% of profits).
  • The amendments also grant further exemptions to key economic sectors.
  • There will be no income tax on the salries of Qatari citizens and residents.
  • There will be no taxes on investments in shares and profits
  • Selective taxes were imposed on health-damaging goods at the beginning of 2019 as part of a drive to limit consumption of such consumer items. Excise tax have been imposed on carbonated drinks (50% rate) and tobacco products and energy drinks (100%), among other items that fall under excise goods.
  • The effects of levying Value Added Tax (VAT) are still in the assessment phase, so there is no VAT as of yet.

Transportation in Qatar

Everyone needs to get around in busy cities like Doha, but the good news is that petrol is very reasonable and second-hand cars are easily available at relatively low prices. You can also buy new ones on installments, and may get some good bargains as well.

However, if you don't want to drive, Qatar has many other transportation options which include the Doha Metro, buses, and taxis which are plentiful and relatively cheap.

Everything you need to know about moving to Qatar

Driving in Qatar

If you are planning to drive in Qatar, you need a valid driving license from the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department after passing a driving test. The minimum age for driving in Qatar is 18.

Language in Qatar

The official language of Qatar is Arabic, however, English is widely spoken which is ideal for expats relocating from English-speaking countries. The ease of settling into the language is made even more evident in the Expat Insider Survey previously mentioned, which awarded Qatar 13th place for language.

This is not to say that expats should not try and make the effort to learn Arabic however. Learning the local language can be very beneficial, especially when trying to communicate with the locals. Even if they do speak English, trying your hand at Arabic can show a sign of respect and may help you to integrate.

Dress code in Qatar

Like many countries in the GCC, Qatar advocates modest and conservative dress. As Qatar is an Islamic country, it’s courteous to adhere to the religion’s and culture’s norms. Some expats might perceive this in a negative way, particularly considering the climate and high temperatures. However, most see this as a way to get creative!

Most Qataris wear traditional dress on a day-to-day basis. Qatari women often wear an abaya (long black robe) over their day clothes and cover their head with a hijab (scarf to cover the head and neck but not the face). Men, on the other hand, wear the thaub (long white robe over trousers and an undershirt) and cover their heads with the gutra (white headscarf draped over the head).

While local Qataris do wear traditional dress, expat men and women are not expected to do the same, but it’s recommended that they dress modestly, so this means covering shoulders and wearing below knee-length trousers and skirts.

It’s an important reminder that expats respect the culture in Qatar and many public places, like parks and malls, usually have a sign up reminding visitors about modest clothing. While people dress a bit more openly at private establishments such as hotels, and even wear bikinis at hotel pools, it’s not common to see in public spaces.

Like any other country across the globe, local culture and customs ought to be respected. If you do choose to make Qatar your home, integrating will be made that much easier if you understand and follow Qatari customs.

For more information on how to dress in Qatar, click on the following link: https://www.iloveqatar.net/news/general/in-the-glow-a-guide-on-how-to-dress-in-qatar

Everything you need to know about moving to Qatar

Social ethics in Qatar

According to an article called "Living in Qatar" the culture and laws in Qatar are designed to ensure that everyone is respectful of each other regardless of their faith and nationality. Visitors and residents alike should avoid types of improper conduct and behaviour which can otherwise lead to fines, imprisonment and deportation.

Alcohol

Alcohol consumption is allowed only by non-Muslims in licensed restaurants, bars, clubs and at home (for residents who have acquired a liquor licence). For those living in Qatar a special licence must be obtained with permission from your employer before purchasing alcohol from the only licensed alcohol store. This licence is only a permit for buying alcohol. It does not give any immunity for alcohol related criminal offences. It is an offence to carry alcohol in your car if you do not hold the liquor licence. If you come to the attention of the police you may be arrested, even though you may have purchased the alcohol legally. You need to be 21 or over in order to drink alcohol legally in Qatar.

Qatar has a zero-tolerance policy towards drinking and driving. You can be charged and imprisoned if you are caught with even the smallest amount of alcohol in your system.

Drugs

Drugs are strictly forbidden, even a residual amount. Consuming or carrying drugs, even if you are transiting through the airport from one country to another, can result in severe penalties. Buying or selling narcotics is considered a serious crime which can result in life-imprisonment or can be punishable by death. If you are using prescribed drugs it is advisable to carry a doctor’s note with you. There is no prescribed list of banned medications for Qatar.

Smoking

Smoking is forbidden inside government areas, offices and shopping malls. There are however many designated areas where smoking is allowed.

Relationships outside of marriage

Sexual relationships outside of marriage are illegal, irrespective of any relationship you may have with your partner in the UK or elsewhere. Cohabiting, including in hotels is also illegal. If you become pregnant outside of marriage, both you and your partner face the possibility of imprisonment. There are also legal ramifications when registering the birth with the local authorities. Holding hands for married couples is tolerated but kissing and hugging are considered offences against public decency. Open displays of affection are generally not tolerated.

Dancing

Dancing is allowed in the privacy of your home or at licensed clubs. But dancing in public is classed as indecent and provocative.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment or randomly addressing women in public, or taking their photos without permission, is strictly frowned upon.

Offensive language and gestures

Offensive language, spitting and aggressive behaviour (including hand gestures) are viewed very seriously and can result in imprisonment and deportation. This includes “road rage”.

Working women

If you're a woman in Qatar with your family, you can work in the country without having to get a separate work permit, but you will need a Labour card which your company will apply for. To complete the process, you must visit the Ministry of Interior’s Labour Department.

Benefits

Social welfare benefits are only provided by the Qatari government to locals.