We have been living in Doha for over 15 years now but since I started blogging, I regularly get questions in my inbox asking about things related to living in Doha. And I have been answering those questions over time, but now finally decided to compile them into a post.
So here are a few topics that I frequently get questions about and will try to answer to the best of my knowledge and experience…
How to find a Job in Qatar?
When Mohsin was working in Karachi, he used to travel in the ME region for work. The company who he used to come to visit and work with liked him and offered him a job. He never went hunting for a job in Qatar, but when this opportunity came his way he took up the offer. Once I joined him here after our wedding, I started looking for a job and it was an extremely slow process. After about of year of applying, giving interviews (and months between first and second interview at the same firm) and whatnot, I finally got a job which was a very entry-level job in the IT department of a local bank. Since I was so sick of waiting, I took up that job and quickly climbed the ladder to become a Project/Systems Manager – thanks to my boss who understood my potential.
The best way to find a job in Qatar, in my opinion, is through head hunters and job websites, LinkedIn or through personal contacts. Other than that, if you have a certain area/industry you want to apply to like a Bank or Schools, you can also directly apply in the career vacancies published on their websites.
Work Visa, Benefits and more…
When a company hires you, they arrange for your residence visa and are your sponsor. The company will also arrange for your family’s visa depending on how big they are and your income level (that’s why the low-income class is usually living in ME region without their families). In our case, Mohsin’s company arranged for his visa and then they applied for my visa (so Mohsin became my visa sponsor).
When I applied for a job, I was already here on my husband’s sponsorship so my company didn’t have to arrange for my visa. It’s legal to work on such a visa as long as you have a No Objection Certificate from your sponsor (in my case – Mohsin – like as if he had a choice :-D). I was an unsponsored employee of my company while Mohsin was a sponsored employee of his company.
The major difference between the company-sponsored employees and the unsponsored employees is that the unsponsored employees are not eligible for certain benefits like healthcare, house rent, school fees for kids, etc. as part of their salary package (since they know that your husband is getting that from his job).
Work Environment, Language Barrier, Dress Code etc.
The work environment completely depends on the company you work for. In my case, I was working for a private local bank and since I was on the management side and not customer-facing, I didn’t even have to speak in Arabic ( I basically can’t at all!). The bank was full of expats and Qatari locals and English was used as the main language in which we all communicate. We had Danish, British, American, Indian, Pakistani, Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Filipinos and Qataris in our department and it was a breeze to adjust into. On the other hand, people who do work in Govt organizations, or are in customer-facing positions do need to know the Arabic language.
There was no restriction on what we wore to work… Men wore suits or they wore their local thobes. While women could wear anything at all as long as it’s not revealing, I used to wear a suit to work and some of my female colleagues wore shalwar kameez, skirts, abayas, dresses, etc.
Being on the management side, my working hours were from 7:15 am – 2:45pm. However, the bank branches work for a much longer time and work in shifts. Govt. and Semi Govt. organizations usually work from morning till afternoon, however, some private firms work for longer hours. There are also certain offices that work in two shifts (7 am-1 pm & then 4pm-8pm).
The salaries in Qatar are generally good, however, you should always keep in mind that living in Qatar is quite expensive as well. Also, what is important to consider is what’s included in your job offer. A good organization would offer a basic salary, an allowance for house rent, health insurance, allowance for school fees for kids and an annual ticket for you and your family back home.
This list can give you an idea of what the salary range is here in Doha for different job categories.
Monthly Living Expenses in Qatar
Someone once asked me if I could give them a ballpark figure for how much is enough to be able to live in Doha and I told them that I cannot answer that for anyone as it totally depends on your own lifestyle. Generally, Doha is expensive in terms of living especially the house rents, although rents have come down considerably from the peaks with more supply to houses and apartments coming to market. A 2 bedroom apartment can be rented from QAR 5,000 – QAR 10,000 per month depending on the location and quality (See the Accommodation section below for details)
Schools are also a major expense here with an annual fee ranging anywhere between QAR 10,000 to QAR 100,000 depending on schools (See the Education section below for more details). But then somethings are cheap here like domestic help. For example, getting a part-time cleaner for the house will be 30 QAR/hour and if you sponsor a live-in nanny, the average salaries range from between 1500 – 2500 QAR. For us, a family of 6 (nanny included) our weekly groceries on average are up to 1000 QAR. Govt. Health Care is free for all residents whereas private clinics and hospitals can be quite expensive with a consultant’s fee on average being QAR 500 (without insurance).
Shopping in Doha is expensive for the same brands that are in the US and UK unless there are sales and only then it becomes somewhat comparable. I usually buy a stock of my kids’ clothing and my own stuff from the US when I visit my family there.
Housing and Accommodation
Some employers offer accommodation while others give a housing allowance to find a home of your choice. Like any other city, the rents vary depending on the area. If you are looking at the new more upscale areas like the Pearl Qatar, a 3 bedroom apartment there would be for approx QAR 15,000/month. The areas which are central are more expensive than the ones which are farther away from the centre. West Bay Lagoon, West Bay (which is like Downtown area), The Pearl (Porto Arabia, Qanat Quartier, Viva Bahriya) are more expensive, but Alwaab, Al Rayyan, Al Gharrafa or the newer development in Lusail city are more affordable. You can check different properties on https://www.propertyfinder.qa to have an idea of the market price.
While most of the areas are only available for rental property, there are a few freehold areas where expats can buy property including The Pearl, Lusail, etc. You can get a mortgage on the property and instead of paying the rent to the landlord, pay almost the same amount as your mortgage.
There are a number of schools including American, British, Spanish, French, Pakistani & Indian schools including American School of Doha, Doha College, Doha English Speaking School to name a few… You can see the complete list of schools in Doha
However, getting into popular schools is not an easy thing, especially if its in the middle of the term. There are long waiting lists to get into a good school in Doha. However, some employers have reserved quota in some schools.
For small children starting early years, most schools require that the kids have been to a nursery & are completely potty trained. All 3 of my kids went to Fun First Nursery in Westbay however you can check this complete Nursery guide.
Another gem in Qatar’s Education scene is the Qatar Foundation, which caters from primary up to postgraduate studies with some of the leading university campuses in Qatar including Carnegie Mellon, Virginia Common Wealth, George Town University, Weil Cornell to name a few…
Qatar has a very good Govt Health Care system and a number of hospitals under Hammad Medical Corporation, which is free to all residents of Qatar (with a Govt issued health card). However, because of the sheer volume of patients, there is usually a long wait for appointments and a lot of people prefer private hospitals (if your insurance covers it).
Qatar is a Muslim country, however, there a is a big non-Muslim expat population with the freedom to practice their religion in religious complexes.
Some of the very useful website to connect with other moms, find out about Doha life and guides to settle in Doha are listed below.
Useful Facebook Groups
Some of the very useful groups, where you can ask questions to know more about life in Qatar or buy or sell stuff, etc are listed below
- When, Where & How In Doha
- Positive Birth Group Doha – Ladies ONLY
- Mums in Doha
- Expat Families in Doha
- Buy it, Sell it, Swap it, Qatar
- Pak Mums in Doha
Hope this helps!