Most expats find that relocating to Qatar for work is a surprisingly smooth transition. Qatar has always been heavily reliant on foreign labour, which makes up over 90 percent of the country's workforce. Foreigners make up most of the population, and although Arabic is the official language, English is commonly spoken in business settings.

Having colleagues and clients from all over the world means that the business culture in Qatar is eclectic, and diverse cultures may clash with things like communication styles. Of course, Qatar's own Arabic work culture has its own set of norms too.

Expats should educate themselves about doing business in Qatar but shouldn't expect too much to happen too quickly. Adapting to a work-life in a country is challenging, with difficulties including adapting to the local culture, overcoming language barriers and navigating government regulations. Being patient, sensitive and aware of the effects that cultural differences can have on office life will smoothen the transition.

Job market in Qatar

Qatar appeals to workers from all over the world, illustrated by the fact that most of Qatar’s residents are foreigners and jobs abound across both public and private institutions.

The petrochemical sector has been the largest drawcard for expats, though this is slowly changing. The Qatari monarchy has stressed economic diversification and growth in other industries. Construction and real estate continue to grow, and massive investments were made into infrastructure and the tourism sector for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 

Other key and growing sectors in Qatar include education, translation, business services and consulting, hospitality and healthcare. Over 1.5 million jobs are open to foreign employees in Qatar, and this is expected to increase as the expat job market expands.

That said, prospective expats should be aware of Qatarisation, whereby a Qatari national with equally strong qualifications and performance ratings is likely to be given priority over an expatriate. Qatarisation also explains the lengthy work permit process, which is a deterrent to hiring foreigners.

Qatarisation is most prevalent in the energy and industrial sector, yet this shouldn’t be cause for alarm for skilled expats. Qatar highly values foreign employees with the right expertise who can contribute to these sectors and also aid in training and upscaling the local workforce.

Finding a job in Qatar

To work in Qatar, expats will need a work permit, for which they have to secure a job before arriving in the country. Expat employment packages in Qatar typically include accommodation, transport allowances, medical insurance and schooling for children as part of the benefits offered by employers.

Many expats are transferred from their companies overseas and do not need to actively search for a job in Qatar. Still, it shouldn’t be too difficult for foreign hopefuls with the right qualifications to get a job, especially if they have experience in the construction, oil and gas industries. What’s key is to have a strong CV with relevant experience and qualifications.

Jobseekers have a wealth of resources at their disposal. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook are useful not only for finding a job but also for reaching out to other expats in Qatar.

Qatari, Arab and international online job portals, such as, Indeed, Gulf Talent and, are highly useful. The Hukoomi portal and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs website also have a lot of info.

While online job platforms are a good starting point, networking and making personal connections can also work in an expat’s favour; it’s often more about who they know than what they know. That said, the culture of wasta (who you know) has been linked to issues of nepotism and corruption in the past, and relatives or friends have been favoured over someone else with greater experience. So, while networking is useful, do be aware of both the pros and cons.

International recruitment agencies and relocation firms are a good option, but expats should always do independent research on the jobs these agencies promote. There have been reports of recruitment agencies overselling jobs, mainly to lower-skilled jobseekers, and inflating the expected wages. When these expats arrive, the reality is often not as promising as expected.

Changing jobs

One of the downsides of working in Qatar is the fact that changing jobs can be difficult. Employment contracts frequently have clauses restricting employees from starting a new job in the country. Some employers feel these rules are justified because they invest time and money in bringing foreign workers into the country. 

Qatari labour law dictates that jobs can only be changed under certain conditions, and employees cannot conduct any work for another employer while under contract, whether paid or unpaid, including outside of normal working hours. Changing jobs in Qatar is possible after a certain period, but individuals are legally required to obtain a 'no objection certificate' to switch employers.

That said, it has become easier to change jobs in Qatar with amended labour laws. Employees can now freely cancel employment contracts with one month’s notice if they were employed for two years or less, and two months’ notice after two years.

Useful links

Work culture in Qatar

Qatari work culture is a blend of traditional values and modern business practices, characterised by a strong emphasis on hierarchy, respect for authority and a focus on building personal relationships. The work culture is also strongly informed by Qatar's massive expat population, rendering an interesting blend of traditional Islamic values and international corporate customs.

Gender dynamics also play a significant role in the workplace in Qatar and may take some getting used to. Segregation of genders is common in certain workplaces, with women more prevalent in education, healthcare and administrative positions.

The salary packages are attractive and tax-free living is tempting, but employees in Qatar work notoriously long hours to earn their riyals. The workweek is usually 48 hours a week – 36 during Ramadan. A typical workweek is usually from Sunday to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday as the weekend. Some businesses do open on Fridays, in which case they usually only work half days on Thursdays.

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