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Doha is the capital and also the most populated city of Qatar. Expatriates from around the world looking to settle in the middle east prefer Doha because of better career opportunities, health care, and lifestyle. It’s no wonder that around seventy percent of Qatar’s total population resides in Doha. Moreover, Doha was the fifteenth-most favorite place for expatriates, out of sixty-six renowned ex-pat destinations in the world, according to the Expat City Ranking 2020.
However, shifting to Qatar and adjusting to the culture can be challenging, for people from Europe and the United States of America, because of the vast cultural and socio-economic differences between them. Most expatriates make the mistake of moving to the country before knowing thoroughly about the various aspects and changes they may encounter after shifting. For instance, most people are not aware that all couples must be married to live together in Qatar.
Not being aware of such rules, cultural values, and regulations of Qatar may cause difficulty upon arrival. If you are shifting to Doha, here are five tips to help you in the process.
- Be prepared for the high cost of living.
The first and foremost factor to consider while moving to a new place is the cost of living. Doing so will help you analyze whether you will be able to manage the living expenses of Doha. The primary things to look at while calculating the average cost of living are housing, food, education, clothing, healthcare, transportation, etc. The cost of living in Doha is high, mainly because Qatar imports almost ninety percent of its food from other parts of the world.
Another factor for the high cost of living is housing. So evidently, apartments for rent in Doha may be expensive and can take up to one-third of your income. However, the cost of living also depends upon various factors, including your choices, lifestyle, and salary.
- Be prepared for the cultural differences.
Cultural differences can be the most challenging part for many expatriates, mainly for people moving from western countries. For instance, cohabitation or live-in relationship is illegal in Qatar – only married couples can stay together. The dressing is another crucial cultural factor, mainly for women, in Qatar. While the Qatari women wear full-length robes and hijabs, tourists or expatriates don’t need to wear them. However, Qatar’s people expect modest and conservative dressing from expatriates and tourists, mainly in public places.
The laws against drugs are strict in Qatar. Some of the prescription drugs may also fall under the category of controlled substances. Therefore, it is better to carry a signed or stamped medical prescription for any drugs that are a part of your daily medication.
- Get a Karwa smart card immediately upon arrival.
Getting in around Doha is very convenient. The city has a well connected, easily accessible public transport facilities like buses, metro, tram, etc. The public buses known as Mowasalat buses are an efficient and hassle-free way to commute within the city, among all. Mowasalat is the company that introduced public buses in Qatar, offering a rechargeable card to pay the bus fare. You can purchase the Karwa smart cards for QR 30 to avoid paying the fare in cash.
The bus routes connect across the entire city, including the industrial area. Information regarding the buses is easily accessible online from the official website of Mowasalat. Moreover, the company also runs shuttle services for airport rides, local taxis, etc.
- Plan your child’s schooling before your journey.
Here is an essential tip for people moving to Doha with their families. Start looking for schools for your kids and begin the application process as soon as possible. The number of renowned and reputable private international schools is less in Doha, and most schools accept admissions for a specific period every year. In case you miss the admission time frame, finding an alternative can be tedious. The competition and fees are also high for the private international schools in Doha. Therefore, plan the admission process for your child’s schooling prior and have an alternative as well.
For instance, your partner and children can stay in your home country and join you in Qatar for the next academic year. That way, your child can finish schooling without a gap year while you apply for their education in Qatar for the next admission period.
- Discuss the entry and exit process with the employer.
The entry and exit procedures such as visas and other essential paperwork for relocating to Doha can be tedious and time-consuming. Expatriates require work or business visas. Moreover, one must have a sponsor to obtain a work visa in the first place. Luckily for employees, the employer company can act as the sponsor. You can sponsor your family members for a visa once you obtain a residence permit, as well. Requiring an exit visa to leave the country is one of the strangest policies you’ll encounter in Doha.
The rule can be an enormous downside to many expatriates because you will require the permission of your sponsor (employer) to leave the country. That applies in case of emergencies as well. For instance, to visit your home country in case of an emergency, you will require an exit visa.
Hopefully, the five tips mentioned above will help you in a hassle-free and convenient relocating process to Doha. Qatar can be an exceptional place for expatriates to find career opportunities and bring up children. However, the vast cultural shift may not be suitable for some people. So, it is always better to make a preliminary visit to Doha before making any professional commitments.