Relocating To Qatar – What You Need to Know
Making the decision to relocate can be difficult. There are so many factors to consider, such as housing, expenses, cultural differences, pets, schooling and even if they will have your favourite comfort foods in the local supermarket!
So to make things easier, we asked our consultants to give us the answers to some of the questions they get asked most frequently about life in Qatar.
How is Qatar different from other countries in the Middle East?
It is a country that has something for everyone. From galleries and fine dining to historical sites, museums and even falconry, there is plenty to do there and plenty to see.
Unlike many of its more conservative neighbours in the Middle East, Qatar has a very progressive attitude when it comes to women’s rights, religious freedoms and even the consumption of alcohol.
The current population is around 2.3 million. However, over 70% of that number are expats from all over the world including Western Europe, India, the Philippines and the Americas.
As a result, the people there are very open and friendly to expats – everyone is in the same boat! In addition, supermarkets, restaurants and entertainment venues are also expat-friendly. For example, if you’re from the US and your kids like Lucky Charms cereal, you’ll be able to find it in a Qatari supermarket.
What is it like for women in Qatar?
As mentioned earlier, Qatar is a progressive country. They don’t place restrictions on women when it comes to driving or going out alone, and women are not required to wear a hijab when in public.
However, it is worth remembering that Qatar is a conservative Muslim country and as a result it is important to remember that they do have modesty requirements for both men and women.
T-shirts and shorts are fine as long as the shorts extend over the knee. Wearing vests or even going bare chested in public areas other than beaches and pool sides is not permitted. Likewise, swimwear must be of an appropriate length and not worn when inside restaurants or shops.
Women must wear garments which cover them from elbow to knee at all times whilst in public areas. Low cut tops or see through garments are not permitted unless you are by the pool, at a beach or in a designated tourist area such as a hotel bar. Swimwear is also prohibited in areas outside beaches or hotel pools.
It is a good idea to make sure that you carry a shawl or cardigan with you at all times while in Qatar this is for two reasons:
1. A shawl is an easy way of making sure you meet the modesty requirements of the country should you be wearing a revealing item and need to pop to the shops for some reason.
2. You may have dressed for the heat outside, but the temperature inside most buildings and cars is kept much cooler to combat the extreme heat. Having an extra layer on hand can sometimes be a blessing when the air con is a bit aggressive!
What are the schools like?
Qatari culture puts a strong emphasis on family, and they are keen to encourage expat families to relocate there.
As a result, the schools in Qatar are as varied as the population, with curricula ranging from the European International Baccalaureate to the Indian (Central Board of Secondary Education). However, the British and American models seem to be the most popular.
Depending on your school of choice, your child may even be able to continue their studies in their mother tongue – although it is worth noting that many of the schools there teach in English, regardless of the model they are following.
You may have heard that schooling in Qatar is expensive. This is mainly because the standard of education there is exceptional! Some companies offer an education allowance to their employees who have children, which can be very useful if a candidate has more than one. It is always worth checking with your employer on exactly how much is covered and for how long, as every company will have their own regulations when it comes to schooling.
It is also true that it can be difficult to find a school place for your child. The Qatari government are keenly aware of this issue, and several schools are in the process of being built, in order to meet the demand for education across all levels.
Can I bring my pets?
Qatar is a pet friendly country, although the Qatari government does have a list of animals which are prohibited to enter. This list mostly includes larger dog breeds such as Rottweilers and American Pitt Bull Terriers.
Before making the preparations to relocate your pet you must ensure a few things:
- Your Qatari accommodation is pet-friendly
- Are you given a relocation allowance by your employer? If so are they willing to cover the cost of your pet’s relocation?
- Is your pet up to date with all of their vaccinations etc.
One site that we always refer our candidates with pets to is Qatar Pet Relocators they have a list of requirements and an enquiry form on their site so you can be sure you are prepared to move your pet to its new home!
How hot is it really?
Hot!! To be specific temperatures sometimes reach 45c or higher. However, everywhere in Qatar, from cars to buildings has air conditioning to combat the heat.
Because of the temperatures it is very easy to get heat or sunstroke if you are not looking after yourself. Even if you work indoors and don’t see much of the sun during the day, it is still important to remain sun-safe, use sunblock and keep yourself hydrated.
The winter season (September – February) in Qatar is very pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 20-30c.
Want more information on Qatar and relocation? Check out some of our other blogs:
Job Relocation Paperwork Explained
10 Top Tips for Relocating