Qatar - What You Should Know

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Fraser Clarke

Qatar’s dominated the headlines recently, as it officially published the dates for the 2022 Fifa World Cup - but what should you know about potentially moving to the country before the big kick off?

Current Political Situation

At the time of writing Qatar finds itself in a somewhat difficult political situation, caused by accusations of supporting terrorist groups.

As it stands Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have cut diplomatic relations with the country because of these allegations.

This has little impact on everyday life, especially in the modern capital of Doha, however it means that anyone looking to visit any of the countries mentioned will have to fly via Kuwait, as direct flights are unavailable.

The UK Government currently has no warnings linked to Qatar, with some 20,000 British expats already safely living and working in the country.

Where is it?

Qatar is located on a peninsula off the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It’s only land border (which is currently closed) is with Saudi.

There are around eight flights from London to Doha every single day, with the travel time just under seven hours.

What are the Attractions?

+ Salaries. Qatar is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, and attractive salary packages are on the key reasons why it attracts expats. Expect better pay and the added bonus of no income tax.
+ A large expat community. Qatar is home to a large, friendly community of skilled expats, and these groups regularly meet up to go to events, have dinner or just have a chat. Joining one can be the key to quickly settling in.
+ A high quality education system. Qatar realised quickly that it would only be able to attract world leading talent if it had a world leading education system - and quickly it delivered. There are plenty of high quality international schools throughout the country.

What are the downsides?

- The cost of living is high, meaning that the extra income won’t stretch as far as it would back home.
- A divided society. Outwith the major sectors: oil, finance and healthcare, Qatar has been slammed for its human rights record, and some industries (especially construction) are home to people working in extreme poverty.
- Less to do than the UAE. This may change in the lead up to the World Cup, however at the moment Qatar is home to far fewer attractions than the UAE. This means that it isn’t ideal for young children (or adults!) with limited attention spans.

The Healthcare Sector

Healthcare is something that the Qatari government are very keen to continue investing in and, as the population expands and ages continual investment is ensuring it keeps up with demand.

The state healthcare system runs 5 hospitals and 24 primary care facilities, and it is supported by an increasingly large private sector within the country. These can provide a high standard of care, modern facilities and shorter waiting times than the public system - to help ease any potential strain.

Both systems are very much built on the expat community. Native Qataris make up just 12% of the country's total population, and just 10% of doctors and surgeons in the country are Qatari nationals - making the potential for employment within the healthcare sector very realistic indeed.

Should I Move?

Qatar certainly has plenty to offer, and with the World Cup’s arrival in just over four years time it certainly looks to have an exciting future.

It’s not for everyone though, especially those looking for an easy location to adapt to having left Western Europe. Our advice would be to research it thoroughly and speak to expats living there before deciding whether or not it would suit you.