Moving to Qatar
Perhaps best known for its successful FIFA World Cup 2022 bid, expats moving to Qatar may also know the country as a natural gas powerhouse that punches well above its weight. So powerful, that it consistently boasts one of the highest per capita income in the world, faring well alongside destinations such as Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway.
Driven by gas and oil, the small emirate has emerged as an important global player. As a result of the fossil fuel boom, as well as the relatively liberal policies established under former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar now hosts regiments of Commonwealth and South Asian expats. Increasing numbers of foreigners are moving to Qatar to work hard and save money in the tax-free environment, as well as to enjoy a standard of living relatively similar to that of Western Europe.
While there are plenty of work opportunities for expats interested in employment in the petrochemical sector, Qatar is also working to increase foreign investment in non-energy sectors, such as IT, construction, and – much like Dubai – tourism.
With its successful 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, the country has also been spending vast amounts to improve infrastructure. It’s therefore likely that more manpower will be required to continue transforming Doha, the capital city often described as half building site, half park, into something whole. Cranes, alongside the desert's suffocating heat, are constants.
Expats and their families can look forward to an emirate that emphasises culture and education. Whereas Qatar used to be one of the least developed countries in the region, it now aims to be the Middle Eastern flagship for social development and intellectualism. In recent years, it has worked hard to create a “knowledge economy”, and to promote ventures like the Museum of Islamic art and a massive Education City. That said, Qatar still adheres to Islamic law, while censorship is still enforced and foreigners will probably never command a position equal to locals in Qatari society.
Expats considering moving to Qatar should also remember that the peninsula is still fairly new to the global stage, and provincialisms still exist. There are still many non-English speakers in the service sector, the red tape of bureaucracy can still be endlessly frustrating, and some sections of its Arab society are not as liberal as its neighbours in the UAE or Bahrain.
Despite these challenges, however, the expat community in Qatar is large and welcoming. Making connections is relatively easy and can ease the relocation process, helping new arrivals to overcome any initial culture shock.