By Michel Faucher | 15 Apr 2015

What you need to know before moving to Qatar

Qatar appeals to many expats for a whole host of different reasons. The destination has gained a lot of attention as of late, as it has been the controversial selection as the host country for the 2022 World Cup. This is bound to bring a boost to the country’s economy and thus the outlook is certainly bright. Nevertheless, if you are planning to move to this location, there is definitely a lot that needs to be taken into consideration. Keeping that in mind, read on for our full guide to Qatar, providing you with everything you need to know before making the big move.


Living in Qatar

There are many perks associated with living in Qatar. You should find it easy to make friends and integrate, as the expat community is tight-knit. There are many groups and activities for you to participate in, especially for those who move to Qatar as a family. You won’t be bored either, as there is everything from cultural events to first-rate museums for you to enjoy. Qatar is also a very safe location, with low levels of crime, even petty crime. Nevertheless, one thing you do need to be mindful of is driving in Qatar. When it comes to the roads, this country is one of the most dangerous. Moreover, whilst the expat community is extremely welcoming, you do need to be prepared for a culture shock. Depending on where you are originally from, Qatar can be a place that needs a little bit of getting used to. Not only do you need to have patience when it comes to driving, but you will need to get used to the Muslim culture of the country. A bit of respect and prudence will go along way. You should respect their culture and thus women should keep their knees and shoulders covered, whilst displays of public affection should be avoided. Sometimes Qataris will refuse to shake hands with members of the opposite sex – this shouldn’t be taken personally.


Getting a visa in Qatar is fairly easy. The only hurdle you may face is a waiting period, yet the process itself is simple. There are three different visa types – tourist visas, business visas and residence permits. The latter is only granted to applicants that are sponsored by a company and that earn more than the minimum threshold, or someone that is related to a family member that is sponsored and earns the required amount. The process involves finding a job, applying for a work entry visa and then applying for a residence permit. You will need to pass a medical test to be granted a residence permit.

Working in Qatar

As just touched upon, you will need to have a job in order to secure a residence permit, which is why there are few people that move to Qatar unemployed. Most expats will already have a job lined up. Nonetheless, finding a job shouldn’t be too difficult, so long as you have the skills being asked for. Gas, oil and construction industries, in particular, are always looking for employees. The best thing to do is simply hand over your CV personally and network effectively too. This is because there are not many recruitment agencies in Qatar. More jobs will, of course, be created in anticipation of the FIFA World Cup. In terms of pay, salary packages tend to be attractive in Qatar and of course you have the added benefit of tax-free living. However, one downfall is that long hours are often expected. You may find you need to work a half-day on the weekend at least.


Healthcare in Qatar is of a high standard. The country shines amongst others in the Middle East. The public system is available to expats. You will simply need to apply for a health card in order to take advantage of it. However, you can expect to pay high amounts when it comes to medical bills if you go down this route, especially for inpatient care, consultations and tests. Instead, most expats tend to take out an international health insurance plan prior to their move. This allows them to make the most of the private health system, which is particularly impressive, boasting highly-trained specialists, up-to-date facilities and cutting-edge medical equipment. The government in the country even advocates private sector services development in the health industry, with new medical centres cropping up all of the time. A lot of the doctors and health professionals are expats themselves who have been tempted to move to Qatar by the great salary packages.


If you are moving to Qatar as a family you will obviously want to make sure that your children get settled into a top-quality school. You have the option of sending them to a local school or a private international school. Most expats elect to go for the latter option, as it gives them the opportunity to benefit from various curricula, including American systems, British systems and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. It is a good idea to make sure that the school is recognised in your home country and the Qatar National School Accreditation accredits it. In the next point, we will talk about accommodation, but one thing that is important to bear in mind is that you may want to live near to your chosen school. Rush hour can be madness in Qatar and a lot of the schools do not have a bus service, which means you can spend a huge proportion of your day driving to and from school if you do not live in close proximity.


Last but not least, the final thing you need to take into consideration before you move to Qatar is accommodation. You have various options to choose from, including apartments, expat compounds, individual villas and more. There is something for everyone. Renting is the obvious option and a lot of people prefer compounds, especially families with children, as it provides a safe and secure place.  It also gives expats the opportunity to establish friendships with others in the compounds. A lot of the compounds will have on-site amenities as well, such as cafes, dry cleaners, gyms, pools and more.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of life in Qatar. It is always a good idea to do as much research as possible before your big move. From acquiring global health insurance to picking a school for your child, there is certainly a lot that needs to be taken into account. However, by assessing all of the points that have been mentioned in this post, you can give yourself the best chance of a successful move.