Living in Qatar Expat Guide – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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Have you ever wanted to experience the richness and flavor of the Arab culture, but it seems difficult? Worry less; Qatar is a safe, livable, and comfortable place. In fact, the daily routine in Qatar can seem very similar to life in any American or European city – And you should get to know the phrase Inshallah.
A typical conversation may go something like this: when will I get my passport if I apply today? The translation may be: you’ll get your password in a week, Inshallah. This is to tell you that the word is nearly used in all conversations – And it’s because the Islamic culture and calendar dictate their life.
Moving to live and work abroad is not a decision to be taken lightly. It impacts almost every aspect of your life and even changes your perspectives of viewing things. That’s why, if you’re thinking of living in Qatar, you should understand their culture, procedures for a residential permit, education, and others.
All newcomers wishing to live and work in Qatar would have a work residence permit (popularly known as RP). On top of that, you’ll also need a Qatari sponsor, individual, or company for validation. So, it’s your sponsor that’d handle all the paperwork required to obtain the residence permit on your behalf.
Now, here is an article that deeply explains what living in Qatar entails. Today, we’re going to look at interesting facts about living in Qatar. Aside from that, you’ll know what it feels like to be a Qatari. From its historical background, multicultural population, cultural heritage, to its geography, and more are the things we’ll consider.
Interesting Fun Facts about Qatar
Whether you’re living in Qatar or just planning to relocate to the country, there’s always something new to learn. To celebrate and have a good understanding of this country, we’ve rounded up some interesting, fun facts. Without further ado, below are the fun facts about Qatar.
- Geographical Location and Travel
As of 2021, the eyes of the world are on Qatar. Following the discovery of oil in the 1940s, this small country has been known from a small fishing and trading hub to one of the richest countries in the world. Fuelled by oil and natural gas revenue, Qatar is developing gradually. Also, everything from colleges, five-star hotels to football stadiums is springing up.
However, Qatar is a small peninsular of about three times the land of Dubai. It is located in Western Asia. Its sole land border is with the neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf that separates Qatar from nearby Bahrain.
Now, you’ll ask, what of the transportation in Qatar, right? Of course! The public transportation in Qatar is good. In fact, you can commute using buses or taxis to get to your destination. Also, a government-owned organization known as Mowasalat operatesthe bus network and monitors its affairs in the country. Meanwhile, you can get around in Qatar through Bus services, rail network, and Doha metro.
Key Points to Remember in Qatar’s Geography
- Qatar is known as the second flattest country in the world, with its highest point lying at just 338 ft
- Hamad international airport in Qatar is the third-best airport in the world
- The citizens of Al Khor Island were the first to produce purple shellfish dye
- Qatar Airways is no doubt the best airline in the world
- Khor AI Adaid is the only place in the world where the sea meets deserts
- Cultural Heritage and History
The cultural heritage and historical background of Qatar are traceable to its origin, where fishing is their major trade. More so, before the discovery of oil and natural gas, many Qataris made their living through pearl-fishing. After independence, the country hosts a large US military base and therefore promotes political openness.
Did you know that about 95 percent of Qataris are Sunni Muslims? Like in any other country, religion in Qatar is restricted to some functions. Visitors (both men and women) can not wear revealing clothing in public places in Qatar. Meanwhile, beachwear and bikinis are acceptable by the hotel pool but not public.
Furthermore, Arabic is the official language in Qatar, but English is widely spoken. Moreover, the business meetings in Qatar usually start with handshakes between men and titles such as Haji or Sheikh are used to show respect. At the same time, small talk is a way of building relationships in the country.
Key Points to Remember in Qatar’s Culture
- Camel racing is one of the most prominent sports in Qatar
- Qatar’s love of art has spilled over from the museum to its large teddy bear usage
- The country’s wealth is in no way equally spread
- Following the Islamic laws in Qatar, Fridays and Saturdays are their weekends
- Touring Qatar would prove to be a very memorable one with its diverse wildlife
- Qatar Humans and Animals Experience
As an expat, I’ll tell you that there are thousands of reasons to love Qatar. From amazing museums, art galleries to the fantastic beaches and parks, the benefits of living in Qatar can not be overemphasized. Besides, the major reason why people love this country is because of its safety.
According to the mid-year Numbeo crime index, Qatar is one of the countries that have the lowest crime rate in the world, having a total of 11.90 points out of 100. This means the country is pretty safe, and Qatar has won this accolade of safety many times. For example, in 2017 and 2019, it was the safest.
Additionally, in Qatar, robots are used for camel racing. Originally, children can also be used for jockeys, but robots have been used since 2004 for major health and safety reasons. Besides, these robots are controlled remotely by the camel herders that often drive alongside the track.
Key Points to Remember in Qatar’s Animal Experience
- In Qatar, camels are known as the ships of the desert because of the way they walk
- The word camel is derived from the Arabic word known as ‘Jamal,’ meaning beauty
- While the Asian camels are known for their two humps, Arabian camels are known for one
- Arabian Oryx is a proud national animal of Qatar and its small
- You can only see the Arabian Horned Viper in the desert, and they are active at the night
- Education and Weather in Qatar
Education and weather in Qatar are two different terms. When it comes to weather, there are four seasons; they include winter, spring, summer, and fall. Therefore, it’s quite essential to bring/wear enough clothing that’s suitable for each season. Let’s walk you through the four seasons.
- Autumn/Fall Season – The autumn/fall season officially begins in September, and the clothes that we recommend during this season include; sweaters, light coats or lined jackets, pants, raincoats, waterproof footwear, together with an umbrella. On the flip side, green leaves turn to beautiful oranges in this season. Not only that, but snow arrives towards the end of the fall season.
- Winter Season in Qatar – The winter season in Qatar officially begins in December. Some of the things we recommend include; a warm coat, mittens or gloves, a warm hat, warm, water-resistant boots, and others. Meanwhile, in Qatar, snow can officially arrive as early as October, which can last until April.
- Spring Season in Qatar – The spring season in Qatar officially begins in March. During this period, we recommend you to wear a raincoat, waterproof footwear, pants, jackets, as well as an umbrella. In the spring season, the days become gradually longer, and it’s quite unpredictable when it comes to temperature. This is because; sometimes the weather can be a mix of cool rain and pleasantly sunny.
- Summer Season in Qatar – summer days in Qatar officially begins in June. During these days, we recommend items such as sunscreen, t-shirts, sandals, sunscreen, and many others. Also, the summer seasons in Qatar bring warm, sunny days with good temperatures ranging from 20˚C to 35˚C as of today.
On the other hand, education in Qatar is jointly directed and controlled by the Supreme Education Council (SEC), the ministry of Education, and Higher Education (MOEHE) at all levels. Surprisingly, this country provides a free educational system for all citizens to prepare them for the future adequately. Besides, some of the cheapest schools for international students include the following.
- Public university of Qatar that – Which provides education for over 15,000 students of both local and international students for as low as $12,000 to $17,000
- Stenden Qatar University, located in Bin Omran, offers cheap education for about 500 students, and the undergraduate tuition fee is between $20,000 to $25,000
- Texas A&M University is an international private university located in the city of Al Rayyan. This school provides education for up to 600 undergraduates students
- Virginia Commonwealth University, established in 1998, was the first university in the city of Doha. It offers up to 200 courses for both local and international students
- Northwestern University provides a cheap educational system for as low as $57,000. This school is also located in the city of Doha. However, it focuses on liberal arts and media studies.
Employment Opportunities in Qatar
Qataris take pride in their architectural design. Their standard of living is high, and most people in this country report feeling safe and healthy. The citizens are generally satisfied with education, environment, and employment provisions, and they offer good requirements for foreigners.
Essential Features of Working in Qatar
Qataris and the international workers politely discharge their duties without disturbance from the third party. Besides, in Qatar, you should understand the terms and conditions of working before you can live comfortably. Some of the rules and regulations guiding the job opportunities in Qatar include the following.
Qataris Workplace Environment
Working in this country is likely to be from Sunday to Thursday. In fact, most of the offices in the Middle East have separate prayer rooms for men and women. That’s why; we recommend you be a Muslim to make working and enjoying this country safe and easy to comprehend.
The holy month of Ramadan
During the holy month of Ramadan, the Qataris working hours in a government position will be shortened. This is the month of fasting, whereby food and drink are not consumed during daylight hours. Meanwhile, the commencement date moves yearly, but you can eat at home, where you guarantee privacy.
Electronic Cigarettes in Qatar
Don’t let the issue of electronic cigarettes come to your surprise while working in Qatar. It’s because electronic cigarettes are illegal and will be confiscated. So, it’s better to take general health care needs before deciding whether to live in Qatar or not.
Disadvantages of living in Qatar
If you’re moving from Kuwait, Nigeria, Canada to a tiny Gulf nation like Qatar, you’ll need professional moving help. This country has a lot to offer its citizen and foreigners – From the high quality of living, great education, excellent health care facilities to warm weather, and many others. On the other hand, there are specific CONS that make the country difficult for some immigrants. Below are the few CONS.
Limited Choice of Accommodations in Qatar
One problem that seems challenging for foreigners in this country is that accommodation choices are limited. Sometimes, it can even be frustrating searching for a home in popular destinations with few amenities. Moreover, you can search for houses in rural areas because Qatar has constant growth.
Cost of Living in Qatar
The cost of fuel is quite affordable in Qatar, but one of the disadvantages is that living in this country is high. In fact, food in Qatar is high, and other household goods are also expensive. As aforementioned, the educational system is one of the best suitable for undergraduates and postgraduate studies.
Other CONS of Living in Qatar
- Hot summer in Qatar can make the citizen a ghost from June to August
- Be prepared for culture shock when you’re relocating to Qatar for the first time
- Driving on the road in this country can overwhelming because of Qatar driver’s manner
- Be patient at your workplace because many of your co-workers may not understand English
- If you want to visit Doha, you’ll have to drive because they don’t have a walkable downtown area
- Women in Qatar have less freedom than men as they have a patriarchal society
- People in Qatar drive crazily, so you’ll need to have a close eye on any cars near you
Public or National Holidays in Qatar
Qatar observes several public holidays since it’s an Islamic nation. Some of their annual country holidays include the following.
- National Sports Day – The second Tuesday in February
- Qatar National Day – It is observed on the 18th of December
- Eid al-Fitr – 1st, 2nd, 3rd of Shawwal
- Eid al-Adha – 10th,11th, and 12th of Zulhijjah
- New year’s Eve – New Year’s Eve
- December Solstice – December 21st
Traditional Qatari Dishes & Drinks Everyone Should Know
In Qatar, breakfast is usually a light meal that may include cheese, coffee, olives, yogurt, and many others. But their launch is the main meal followed by a lovely dinner. Moreover, at dinner, you can expect a light snack, especially during Ramadan or special occasions. Below are some of the foods/drinks.
The Luqaimat is usually made during the holy month of Ramadan. This type of dish is a mixture of milk, butter, flour, sugar, saffron, and cardamom. Also, the ingredients are used to create little dumping that is later deep-fried in sugar syrup. This food is soft on the inside but crunchy on the outside.
This also contributes to what makes foreigners travel to Qatar in the month of Ramadan. It is similar to a pot of stew. The ingredients of this food include onions, potatoes, beans, carrots, and a mix of tomato sauce and spices. It is suitable during Ramadan and other special occasions.
The balaleet is an Indian-influenced dish that includes fried vermicelli topped with a saffron omelette. People eat this kind of food only for breakfast. In addition, the Margoog that’s similar to this food contains fiber and other essential vitamins.
Coffee as Qatar Traditional Drink
In Qatar, coffee plays a huge part in their life. Besides, Arabian coffee is hugely popular for its high-quality coffee made from roasted beans, mixed with cardamom and served in small measures. On a special occasion, the citizens of Qatar drink qahwa helw, which is a bright orange sweet coffee package with cardamom, sugar, and saffron.
Alcohol in Qatar
Alcohol is not illegal in Qatar to some extent. This is because; it’s only available from licensed hotels and restaurants or stories run by the Qatar Distribution Company. However, several regulations are guiding the consumption of Alcohol in Qatar. Take a look at the following to know the terms.
- Your entire luggage would be scanned thoroughly. In this case, it is illegal to bring alcohol into the country.
- You cannot transport Alcohol within the country except for taking it from the initial place of purchase to your home
- It is illegal to sell or give alcohol to others because it is illegal to drink alcohol in public
Key Facts Every Expat Should Know About Qatar
Qatar is made for every traveler around the world. In fact, its capital, Doha, blends traditional souks and gleaming malls effortlessly. Also, beyond Doha, Qatar rewards visitors with its fair share of natural beauty. Without further ado, below are the interesting facts every expat should know about Qatar.
- Qatar sits in a peninsula jutting out into the Arabian Gulf, and it’s the richest country in the world
- Qatar Airways is the national carrier linking Doha to over 160 international destinations in the world
- While Qatar can be expensive, it can also be affordable
- Qatar is refreshingly tolerant, and getting around the country is relatively easy
- Alcohol is allowed in certain places in Qatar
- Doha is the cultural and economic hub of Doha, with a long waterfront
- Surprisingly, nationals from over 87 countries can visit Qatar without a visa
- Tap water and food are safe in Qatar. At the same time, international dishes are widely available in most hotels too
Qatar Insurance Policies and Visa Application
Just like other countries, there are different Qatar insurance policies, including health insurance, car insurance, travel insurance, life insurance policy, and many others. The company is known as the Qatar insurance company (QIC), which specializes in personal and business asset production.
Aside from that, this QIC enjoyed a significant increase in profits as of 2014. From proven track records in transparency, accountability, and others, the company recommended distributing cash dividends of 25 percent and bonus shares of 15 percent to its potential customers or citizens.
However, an expat guide for a car insurance policy is to own a vehicle in Qatar. Besides, you’ll need to have a minimum of 12 months’ insurance on a vehicle in Qatar before it can be registered. The types of car insurance policy available in Qatar include; third-party liability, fully comprehensive policy, car insurance costs, off-road insurance, personal accident insurance, agency repair insurance, and many others.
Furthermore, to apply for a Qatar visa online, you’ll have to provide a valid and confirmed ticketed booking for Qatar. Meanwhile, it’s quite simple – that way, you can start your application process on www.qatarairways.com. Please read the terms and conditions for the Qatar online tourist visa!
List of Countries That Can Enter Qatar without Visa
Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Qatar for up to ninety days. These countries include; Antigua, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Seychelles, Turkey, Ukraine, Australia, Bolivia, Brunei, Chile, Cuba, Canada, Georgia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, and many others to mention a few.
Qatar is a country in the Middle East that home to up to 2.8 million people. As we said earlier, there are many fun facts about this country. While you’re planning to relocate to Qatar, endeavor to understand the pros and cons of living there. Nonetheless, read this expat guide thoroughly to know more about Qatar.