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Expat Exchange - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Qatar
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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Qatar

By Betsy Burlingame

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: If you're planning a move to Qatar, here are 10 things expats living there wish they had known before moving to Qatar.

Qatar, a small yet prosperous country in the Middle East, is a popular destination for expats from around the world. With its rich culture, modern infrastructure, and high standard of living, it's no wonder why so many people are considering a move to this Arabian Peninsula nation. However, before you pack your bags, there are a few things you should know about life in Qatar. Here are the top 10 things to consider before making the move.

1. Understanding the Cultural Norms in Qatar

Qatar is a Muslim country, and its culture is deeply rooted in Islamic traditions. This influences many aspects of daily life, from dress codes to social etiquette. For instance, modest clothing is expected, especially for women. Public displays of affection are also generally frowned upon. It's important to respect these norms to avoid offending the local population. While Qatar is quite cosmopolitan, especially in the capital city of Doha, it's still essential to be aware of and respect the local customs and traditions.

2. The Climate Can Be Extreme

Qatar is known for its extreme heat, especially during the summer months when temperatures can soar above 40 degrees Celsius. However, most buildings are air-conditioned, and many activities are designed to be enjoyed indoors. On the flip side, winters can be surprisingly cool, so don't forget to pack a few sweaters!

3. The Cost of Living is High

While salaries in Qatar can be quite attractive, especially for expats, the cost of living is also high. Rent, dining out, and even groceries can be expensive. However, keep in mind that there is no income tax in Qatar, which can help balance out the high cost of living.

4. Qatar is a Safe Country

Qatar is one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates and a high level of security. It's not uncommon to see families strolling in parks late at night or children playing outside unsupervised. However, like anywhere else, it's always important to take basic safety precautions and stay aware of your surroundings.

5. The Work Week is Sunday to Thursday

In Qatar, the work week typically runs from Sunday to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday being the weekend. This can take some getting used to if you're from a country where the work week is Monday to Friday. However, most expats adjust quickly to this new schedule.

6. The Healthcare System is Excellent

Qatar boasts a world-class healthcare system, with state-of-the-art medical facilities and highly trained medical professionals. Many expats have access to private healthcare through their employers, but the public healthcare system is also excellent and accessible to all residents.

7. Learning Arabic Can Be Beneficial

While English is widely spoken in Qatar, especially in business settings, learning some basic Arabic can be beneficial. Not only can it help you navigate daily life more easily, but it can also show respect for the local culture and make your transition to life in Qatar smoother.

8. Qatar is a Sports-Loving Nation

From football to camel racing, Qataris love their sports. The country has invested heavily in sports infrastructure, including state-of-the-art stadiums for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. Whether you're a sports fan or not, you'll likely find yourself swept up in the excitement of the local sports scene.

9. Driving is the Main Mode of Transportation

While Qatar has a growing public transportation system, including a new metro system in Doha, driving is still the main mode of transportation. If you plan to drive, be prepared for heavy traffic and aggressive driving habits. Also, keep in mind that you'll need a Qatari driving license, which you can obtain by exchanging your home country's license or taking a driving test.

10. Qatar Offers a Blend of Tradition and Modernity

One of the most striking things about Qatar is its blend of tradition and modernity. You'll find centuries-old souks selling traditional goods just a stone's throw away from gleaming skyscrapers and ultra-modern shopping malls. This unique blend makes Qatar a fascinating place to live and explore.

Moving to a new country is always a big step, but with the right preparation, it can be an exciting and rewarding experience. By understanding what to expect, you can make your transition to life in Qatar as smooth as possible. Good luck with your move!

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

Doha, Qatar

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