Moving to Qatar:
AUTHOR: Yulia Ruzmanova
Sun, sea and good salaries; Qatar is a much-sought destination and home to numerous cultures and nationalities. As it gears up in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, many more expats are expected to arrive. For those preparing to move to Qatar, we’ve put together this handy guide.
The most in demand professions
In a country of three million, less than 350,000 in Qatar are nationals, meaning that expats make up around 80% of the population. South Asia constitutes the largest sector in Qatar’s expats, followed by other Arab nationalities. According to unofficial statistics, there are 10,000 Russian speakers, but only 2,500 Russian nationals.
With preparations for the 2022 World Cup, demand for foreign specialists in Qatar is on the rise. The coronavirus pandemic has had a similar impact, making doctors, engineers, medical equipment specialists, builders, servicemen and IT specialists some of the most in demand professions in Qatar today.
It’s difficult to specify an average salary, Doha-based financial analyst Denis Belyaev, shares with us, as professional differentiation is quite developed in the country. As such, people with different nationalities may be offered different salaries for similar work, explains Belyaev.
The country’s minimum cost of living is set for 1,000 Qatari riyals, equivalent to around 20,000 Russian rubles ($275), and companies typically provide workers with residence, meals and transportation to work. In hotel hospitality, salaries range from 1,800 — 3,000 QAR (500 — 850 USD). Doctors, engineers and administrative employees can look for a range between 9,000 — 18,500 QAR (2,000 — 5,000 USD). The higher salaries can be found in the oil sector amounting to a range of 35,000 — 60,000 QAR (10,000 — 15,000 USD).
However, career development is not necessarily easy in Qatar, adds Belyaev, saying that often people stay for long periods of time in the same position. Taking this into account, he advises,
“When you’re offered a job in Qatar, go for a higher asking salary as it may not be increased for years, ”
— says Denis Belyaev
Currently, salaries in Qatar are tax-exempt for employees and the country provides one of the most favourable company tax environments in the world with a mere 10% tax on company revenues. There is current discussion however on a 5% VAT tax being introduced for individuals across different fields, excluding education and medical, as in other Gulf countries.
Aside from the salary, Qatari companies also offer their foreign employees a social package which includes medical insurance, a requirement necessitated by law. Large companies also cover flight tickets for the family, an annual flight ticket to the home country and school fees for children.
The social package can be offered to the employee in two different forms,
Either by offering a monetary allowance separate to the salary to cover accommodation, utilities and transportation
or by providing the newly arrived employee with a serviced apartment and car.
“I tried both options. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, as it all depends on the salary and position. Care must be taken during recruitment, so the employee is aware of all his due rights, ”
— adds financial analyst Denis Belyaev.
According to local expats, accommodation and children’s education are the two most expensive aspects of living in Qatar for any family budget, and should be taken into consideration if a person moves alone and plans to bring their family later on. Schools in Qatar are mostly private, with fees amounting to 20,000 — 80,000 QAR (5,500 — 22,000 USD) annually.
Employers are also required to provide medical insurance to expats invited to Qatar. As there are both public and private hospitals, employers may choose to either allocate money for medical treatment in a private clinic, or to provide a card in the state system for medical insurance. Basic insurance covers first aid, trauma therapy and treatment of common diseases.
“I have state medical insurance, which provides me with a 90% reduction in prices in a state clinic. I paid less than $100 for complex dental treatment, ”
— shares Kirill Fateev who has been living in Qatar for eight years and working as a representative of the Eurasian Economic Community, EAEC.
The majority of medications are sold prescription only in Qatar, meaning that only vitamins, eye drops or bandages are easily obtained.
“The government does its best for the people, including expats. For example, each of us has insurance that provides us with free medical services, vaccinations and reduced cost medicine, ”
— says Natalia Goryanova living in Qatar since 2001.
Accommodation and utilities
Accommodation in Qatar can be found in two ways, either through real estate agents or by searching on specialised websites. Those going through agents need to provide banking details and receipts for accommodation payments 12 months in advance ahead of signing a contract.
Alternative ways include searching online on specialised groups or sites like Qatar Living and Property-Finder, an option that is cheaper and easier for those who have newly arrived to the country, however unfortunately may not protect the tenant.
Higher-earning expats can stay in The Pearl, one of Doha’s more luxurious areas, where a one-bedroom apartment’s rent is 10,000 QAR (2,700 USD). Most buildings offer a swimming pool, gym facilities and are close to shops.
Compounds are another popular option in Qatar — small villas closed off with their private swimming pool, sporting club, tennis court and a cafe. The Lagoona compound by the sea has monthly rents starting at 30,000 QAR (8,200 USD).
Starting from 350 QAR a month, internet is pricey, with internet mobile not much better.
For a similar cost, packages include 8 GB data, 600 local minutes and 50 international.
In other areas however, prices are much lower. A one-bedroom apartment can be found for 2,000 riyals (550 USD) in less trendier areas of Doha. Some workers choose to apartment-share, with a bed’s rent starting from 400 riyals (100 USD).
Utilities price is dependent on a number of factors, such as the season, number of air conditioners and whether there is a lawn in need of irrigation. Unlike Moscow, utilities in Doha tend to be cheaper in winter as there is less need for air conditioning. For instance, a three-bedroom family villa with 1,500 riyals utilities cost in summer, would decrease to 500 riyals in the winter.
The main method of transportation in Qatar is by personal car or taxi, with Uber appearing before the metro. Doha’s first metro line was opened in 2019, however it was closed shortly afterwards due to the pandemic. Today, there are four metro lines, with a ticket costing 2 QAR for the standard cabin, and 10 QAR for the VIP one.
Despite the introduction of the metro, the majority of commuters choose to travel by car. The placement of the stations means that oftentimes even after taking the train, a taxi ride is still needed to reach the final destination. Between the summer months of June to October, walking to your destination is a challenge as the weather is humid and hot, particularly in office wear. There are also buses costing between 3 — 9 QAR depending on the distance in different areas of the city.
To drive in Qatar, you need to pass an exam for a local driving license to be issued, however during the first six months, an international driving license can be used.
Qatar has its own currency — Qatari riyal (QAR) — which equals around 20 Russian rubles. The Qatari riyal is pegged to the American dollar at 3.64 QAR per one USD.
Opening a bank account in Qatar is easy. If a person has residency, banks will issue a card immediately, and money can be withdrawn from any ATM. Similarly, transactions are easy, even in the case of an account being in dollars or Euros.
VISA AND MASTERCARD PAYMENT SYSTEMS are popular in Qatar. Cards can be issued before a person’s arrival to the country. The Commercial Bank of Qatar for example offers cards for those planning to move to Qatar.
The main bank is the Qatar National Bank and, according to locals, has a good internet banking system.
Paying by card is easy and available almost everywhere across the country, and contactless payment has also seen an increase in popularity and availability during the pandemic.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Khadia Ulumbekova