Professionals and their families from all over the world are relocating to Qatar, one of the world's wealthiest countries. There are an abundance of employment opportunities in construction, oil and gas, making Qatar a multicultural and wealthy country.
Hukoomi is the Qatar Government web-portal, and contains the necessary information and services you need to live, work or stay in Qatar. Here are a few of the key facts you need to know about moving to and living in Qatar.
- For people who wish to bring their family to reside in Qatar, a Family Residence Visa is required from the Ministry of Interior. You will be required to provide your employment contract, sponsor I.D. and supporting documents as well as completing a medical test in your home country. The necessary information can be found on the Hukoomi website. The forms must be completed in Arabic so you may need support from your sponsor, or a translator to assist. There is also a visa issuance fee to be paid.
- Male expatriates can sponsor certain family members to enter the country provided that their salary is more than QR10, 000. The prospective sponsor must have their residence visa prior to starting the residence procedures for family members. A male expatriate can sponsor his wife; children; stepchildren; and dependent parents but there are slightly different criteria for each.
- Religion: Local laws reflect the fact that Qatar is an Islamic country and you should respect local traditions, customs, and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
- Language: Arabic is the official language of Qatar. English is widely spoken and, reflecting the multi-cultural nature of the country, many other languages are spoken.
- Currency: The currency in Qatar is Qatari Riyal. The currency code is QAR (sometimes abbreviated to QR), and the currency symbol is ﷼. It is divided into 100 dirham.
- Climate: Qatar has a hot and dry desert climate, with low rainfall, and very high temperatures in summer (June to September). Winter months are cooler with occasional rainfall usually in sudden but heavy bursts and storms.
- Healthcare: Qatar has a well-resourced state health care system, Hamad Medical Corporation. Emergency treatment in hospital is generally free but follow up treatment may be charged.
- Transport: Public transport is available but for a busy and populated city such as Doha, the transport available doesn't necessarily meet the needs of the increasing population and can be in high demand. Mowasalat is the state transport system in Qatar providing taxis, bus services and private hire vehicles but there are currently no railways in Qatar. It is possible to apply for a driving license if you have a private vehicle in Qatar. Find out more about applying for a driving license on the Hukoomi website.
Choosing Where to Live
If you are an expat moving to Qatar, accommodation will usually be recommended by your employer. This might be a high-rise apartment in the West Bay area, or there are villas available in gated communities called compounds. These neighbourhoods exist across Qatar, some withhundreds of villas and some have just a small handful.
Depending on the size and the price, the compounds may have amenities and facilities for residents, perhaps including swimming pools, gym facilities, or play areas for children. It is also important to note that some compounds are more sought after than others, so bear this in mind when researching.
Al Khor is becoming an increasingly popular area for families, especially those who enjoy water sports, being close to a number of beaches, and having a mix of stand alone villas and compounds.
Things to consider when selecting a property:
- Does your employer have any recommendations? Living alongside work colleagues might not be ideal for everyone, but having colleagues in the neighbourhood will also have it's benefits.
- Do you want to live in a large neighbourhood or a smaller community? There are compounds to suit your preferences and your monthly rental budget.
- How far is the compound from your place of work? How far is the nearest mall or shopping centre? And what is the journey to the nearest school? Travel, particularly at rush hour, can be challenging so a short commute is beneficial.
- If advice isn't provided by your employer, you might want to seek out a Qatar-based agent from your home country to advise you. Seek recommendations if possible before engaging with an agent.