By Bhok Thompson
Qatar possesses a great deal of opportunity for expats. There are so many positions opening up catering to expats in that the country is expanding a great deal. This is particularly true in the International Business and Educational fields. Qatar offers very impressive salaries, which can seem immediately appealing to expats; however, expats have to crunch the numbers carefully in order to ascertain whether living in Qatar will allow them to possess the lifestyle that they are expecting.
Additionally, there are several cultural factors that must be considered in order to ascertain whether Qatar is the proper choice for one’s expat experience. Be sure to consider the factors below when contemplating whether Qatar has everything that you are looking for as an expat:
Cost of Living in Relation to High Salary
Sure, the salaries are quite high in Qatar; however, the cost of living does match the salary. What is important to remember with this is that there are ways to live quite well in Qatar. The key to achieving this is going to be to obtain a very high salaried position in Qatar. Once this occurs, you will be able to live a very nice and high quality of life in Qatar as an expat.
Full International Schools
Since so many companies are hiring expats in Qatar due to the expanding economy, the current international schools are filling up and having waiting lists. Be sure to consider this before relocating your family to Qatar. If you fail to do so, you may not be able to find a school that has the educational qualifications that you are looking for. While more schools are being established in Qatar to address this issue, the solution is not something that will be readily available.
Work Visas and Employer Control
When being invited to Qatar as an employee, it is important to understand that your work visa gives your employer much more power than it does in other countries. What this means is that your employer has to ask permission every time you leave the country. This then means that you have to ask permission every time you want to leave the country. This can be quite problematic because it will create a tense situation with so much riding on your work visa and job.
Another important factor to consider in terms of your work visa is that it is very difficult to change your work visa when you are hired for another job. Given that there is so much economic activity going on in Qatar right now, it is important to consider how to exit your work contract and visa in order to be able to keep your options open. Qatar is notorious for being far more difficult than other countries.
Qatar is a very eco-friendly green which puts a great deal of resources of green and sustainable building. The Qatar Green Building Society is very pro-active, and extremely well-funded, and thus, has reached incredible achievements in changing Qatar’s landscape and tradition. Qatar’s biggest “western” attraction, being large, cooled, malls, are now promoting green lifestyle, and even the 2022 World Cup stadium is built with special attention to sustainability.
Adapting to the Muslim Culture
While Qatar is known for being one of the more moderate Muslim countries, Qatar does have Muslim citizens and enforces some Sharia law and Muslim principles. For expats who are unaware of what this means, they have to understand that only certain five star hotels will have licenses to sell alcohol and that pork will also be difficult to come by, while gambling is totally out of the question (locals use high volatility investing instead – read more here).
Expats who are women should know that they are not required to wear a hijab. In fact, Qatar is one of the more liberal countries when it comes to Western women. That being said, it is important to note that women should dress more conservatively and not show too much skin in Qatar in order to avoid any possible negative experience. This is particularly true during the month of Ramadan where the laws are the strictest.
Qatar is in a spectacular location because it is close to many famous countries in the Middle East. Additionally, Qatar is quite close to Africa for tourism. For families that want a home base that is closer to areas of the world that are quite far to fly from from their home country for vacation, Qatar has many flights all over the globe, and one of the best airlines there are.
The local currency is Qatari Riyal which is considered as an exotic currency. That means banks charge a lot more on exchanging foreign currency into it (and from it). Banks can be very expensive for expats in Qatar and they often use specialised services like Currencies Direct’s service.
Final Remarks on the Subject
All in all, Qatar offers a very unique experience to expats. The fascinating language and culture is a great aspect to explore for expats in that they get to see a part of the world that is usually entire different from their home country. From the eco-friendliness perspective, it is an absolute world leader.
Qatar absolutely has its appeal; however, it is important to remember that there are certain pitfalls to be aware of so that the prospective expat does not face any unexpected and unfortunate surprises.
This is particularly related to the high cost of living and work visa that is greatly controlled by one’s employer. Should the expat be able to adapt to these issues, there is an absolute possibility that Qatar will be a spectacular experience to be had living in Qatar as an expat.
(Courtesy: Green Prophet)