Moving to Qatar
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Driven by gas and oil, the pint-sized emirate has emerged as an important global player. The fossil fuel boom and relatively liberal policies have attracted legions of Commonwealth and South Asian expats. Increasing numbers of foreigners are moving to Qatar to work hard, save money in a tax-free environment and maintain a standard of living similar to that of Western Europe.
While there are numerous work opportunities for expats in the petrochemical sector, Qatar is also working to increase foreign investment in non-energy sectors such as IT, construction, and tourism.
With its successful world cup bid, the country has been spending vast amounts to improve infrastructure. It’s likely that manpower will be needed as Doha, the Qatari capital, continues to be transformed. Cranes, alongside this desert state’s suffocating heat, are a constant feature.
Expats with families can look forward to an emirate that emphasises culture and education. Qatar aims to be the Middle East’s flagship for social and intellectual development, working hard to create a knowledge economy and to promote ventures like the Museum of Islamic art and Education City.
The country has been quite successful in this regard – Sheika Mayassa, sister of Qatar's current emir and head of the Qatar Museums Authority, is internationally recognised as one of the most powerful people in the art world.
That said, Qatar adheres to Islamic law, censorship is still enforced and foreigners don’t have the same status as locals in Qatari society.
Expats moving to Qatar should remember that it is is still fairly new to the global stage. Many people in the service sector don’t speak English, the red tape of bureaucracy can be frustrating and some sections of its Arab society are not as liberal as its neighbours in the UAE.
Despite these challenges, the expat community is large and welcoming. Making connections is relatively easy and can ease the relocation process, helping new arrivals to overcome any initial culture shock in Qatar.