Qatar is a sovereign country located in the Middle East, occupying a peninsula on the western coast of the Arabian Gulf. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south.
The local currency is the Qatari Riyal (QAR), which is pegged to the U.S dollar. USD$1.0 is worth QAR3.65.
Qatar is an absolute monarchy, with H.H Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar as head of state and head of government. Qatar’s legislation is mainly in accordance with Sharia, the Arabic word for ‘law’ representing the Islamic interpretation of a legal framework derived from the religious precepts of the Quran and the Hadith.
Economically, Qatar is currently the richest country in the world with a GDP per capita of around $137,200. The source of Qatar’s immense wealth is through the exploitation of its oil and natural gas reserves which account for some 60% of is GDP an around 85% of its export earnings.
Qatar’s population (January 2016) is estimated to be 2.5 million people of whom 90% live in the capital city of Doha, located on the country’s east coast. Qatari’s represent approximately 10% of the country’s total population with migratory workers representing the majority of the population, in particular India, which is estimated to have over half a million people living and working in country.
Alcohol is available in selected restaurants in large hotels. Expatriates are allowed to buy and consume alcohol within their private residences providing they obtain an alcohol license from the authorities. There is only one retailer for alcoholic beverages in Qatar where you can buy pork products as well.
Women are not required to wear a veil by law, however it is common to see women wearing abajas, hijabs, niqabs and occasionally burkas. While women are free to wear what they like, it is recommended to dress conservatively when going out in public as a sign of respect towards local Islamic culture.
Yes, when you have a driver’s license issued by the relevant Qatar authority.
Education has been prioritised as a key area for investment and as such Qatar is now home to over 100 schools including independent, private and international institutions from countries such as the US, Britain, Germany and India. Consequently, it has also managed to attract campuses from some of the world’s leading universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Northwestern and Weill Cornell Medical, meaning a wide variety of educational courses from BA’s to Ph.D.’s are available in country.
Qatar has a dry, subtropical desert climate, with low annual rainfall and intensely hot and humid summers with temperatures reaching in excess of 50 degrees Celsius. The average temperatures during the winter months are a mild 23 degrees and occasionally extra layers are required if going out in the evening.
While Arabic is the official language, English is the lingua franca of business and is spoken universally. Due to the extensive amount of South Asian foreign workers, Urdu and Hindi are also widely spoken.
All major credit cards and online banking facilities are available across Qatar. In order to open a local bank account you will have to complete your residency visa before applying. You will also require a ‘No objection certificate’ from your employer, in order to confirm your source of income, and regular salary amount. In some cases the bank will request to see your tenancy agreement as a proof of address, although this varies from bank to bank.
Qatar is a country that is heavily investing in its infrastructure however there are already a number of museums and markets that are complete and ready to visit, most notably the Museum of Islamic Art and the Souk Waqif. If fine dining is your thing, Gordon Ramsay at The St. Regis, Hakkasan and Trader Vic’s are open to provide top quality cuisine with a lively atmosphere. Dune bashing, and a wide variety of water sports are also available within a short distance from Doha, and coming later in the year (2016), the Mall of Qatar will feature a truly international shopping and family entertainment experience.
Qatar Airways, the country’s national carrier, named ‘Best Airline of 2015’ by Skytrax, also offers direct flights to over 140 destinations, giving residents convenient access to Asia, Africa and Europe within just a few hours.
Due to the intense investments in infrastructure and international events, many companies offer plenty of interesting career prospects for both females and males. In general, hard work and commitment is rewarded very well and the multicultural work environment provides a lot of opportunities, both for professional and personal development.
Once your job offer has been confirmed, ensuring your personal administration is in order will help greatly, for example ensuring your passport has enough spare pages and that it has a minimum of six months validity left. Make sure you get as much information about lifestyle and practicalities as you can – there are many sources online and in print. Other than that, many services or products can be found in the country.