Relocation Fact File: Qatar
Qatar’s rapid economic growth in recent years is led by its oil and gas industry, as is standard in this region. Before oil, other prominent industries include petrochemicals, steel and fertilisers. The country has maintained positive growth across all its industries, however, so opportunities can likely be found throughout every sector.
Qatar has no system of personal income tax; there is also no value-added or sales taxes and no capital or wealth tax. The only exception is for self-employed foreign professionals working in Qatar, who will be taxed for their income.
A Work Residence Permit is not easily obtained unless there is a job offer or contract from a Qatar-based employer. Once a job offer is accepted, the employer begins the application process; the employer informs the employee of what documentation will be required. Certificates such as university degrees and marriage documents may need to be presented to both the country of issue’s foreign office, also well as the Qatari embassy. A medical test is also compulsory for all forms of residency permit.
Accommodation costs will form the bulk of an expat’s relocation expenditure. Unless housing is provided by your employer, this will account for roughly 30 to 40 percent of a monthly salary. Rent for expat-standard accommodation is significantly high, but small comfort can be taken in the fact that it has decreased considerably since prices peaked around 2008.
The cost of petrol in Qatar is cheap – just US$0.27 per litre – which adds to the intense love affair people have with their cars. It may also explain the country’s nearly non-existent public transport system, making the purchase of a vehicle another critical relocation cost.
Costs of Living:
The cost of living in Qatar is not nearly as high as in its Middle Eastern neighbours, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Aside from incredibly cheap petrol however, many everyday goods are more expensive in Qatar than what one may be accustomed to in the UK or US. 90% of the country’s food is imported, meaning that even basic foodstuffs can be expensive.
It is fair to say that the lifestyle in Qatar revolves around two things: money and the weather. The cost of certain Western luxuries, such as alcohol or going to the cinema, are excessively high. And the typical scorching summers makes outdoor activities very limited during large parts of the year. If you can bear some of these grievances, however, there are certainly activities and cultural events that can lend themselves to a fulfilling lifestyle.
Private Schooling Fees:
Expats can expect to pay a non-refundable application fee of around 500 QAR to most schools they are applying to. Some of the elite private school fees can cost over US$18,000 per year. There is also a host of other non-refundable expenses, including registration, material, uniforms, capital, re-enrolment and graduation fees. Parents may also be required to provide school materials that aren’t easy to find in Qatar.
The expat community in Qatar is small and friendly, and very typically very welcoming to newcomers. British expats are a prominent group, as well as the Americans, Indians, and Nepalis. A minimal amount of searching for activities and new friends will usually be very fruitful.
Qatar provides a unique blend of the exotic and comfortable. It is a destination where you can combine the sense of adventure of living abroad while also maintaining the levels of comfort and luxury experienced in the West. It is a rapidly growing and evolving country where opportunities are sure to be found, and where an enjoyable expatriate experience can be had.