Could Doha be the new Dubai?

doha_emigrationIf you are thinking of moving abroad to enhance your job prospects and potential earning power, then Doha (the capital of the region of Qatar)  could be the destination for you.  The lesser-known and emerging neighbour of other UAE emigration hotspots such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s fastest growing cities and offers much to entice prospective residents including competitive salaries, zero income tax and generous employer benefit packages. 

Doha has seen explosive growth rates in population, which now stands at around 1 million and has doubled in the last decade.  There is a huge melting-pot of nationalities that have made it their home, including those from the UK and other European countries, the US as well as a significant proportion from Asian countries.  In fact such a large proportion hail from other countries that the majority of Doha citizens are in fact expats.  Work visas are issued by employers, but even if it is you who find work (even from abroad) then getting one organised is not difficult.  For those who want to work in the very short-term, two-week tourist visas can be obtained at the airport.  More information about visas and other useful information about living in Qatar, can be found here.

Doha is a booming, beachside metropolis, and is the undisputed hub of Qatar, with 60% of Qatar’s population living there.  Coupled with the rapid population surge, has been a huge explosion in the transport network, with new highways, a new airport and a planned metro system to potentially ease congestion.

What is the employment situation?

The tax-free salaries seem almost surreal to a resident of the UK, and this is applied to salaries that average £3000 a month for expats working in the city. Further sweetening the lure for cash-strapped UK residents, is the prospect of added benefits packages which can include a housing allowance, an allowance for household bills and yearly return tickets home.  Due to the rapid expansion, there are ample opportunities in many different fields, not just the mainstays of gas and oil.  Professions in particular demand are engineers and finance workers, PRs, teachers, accountants and those in the hospitality industry. Jobs are relatively easy to come by after contacting a recruitment agency and supplying them with your CV, but it is worth doing a little research on different companies, as they have more wide-ranging power than firms in the UK.  Companies even have control over exit visas, meaning that your boss has the final say on when you leave the country.  A tip for ensuring that you land a job, is to make sure that you have also researched Doha, as a lack of any kind of local knowledge may well be viewed as a lack of commitment or preparation for such a big move.

The Downside

Housing and rent is notoriously expensive, although this has declined from its heady peak, due to the building of more places for the burgeoning population to live.  There is sometimes an allowance made for housing in a bonus package, but if not, it is worth noting that the most basic two-bedroom flat will set you back about £1200 a month.  The speedy construction of this new housing has sometimes resulted in shoddy construction standards, so things like sloping roofs and shoddy tiling are fairly typical – despite the hefty rent!  Popular areas with expats are All Mansoura, Najma and Al Sadd, due to their proximity to local shops and restaurants. For high-end opulence, the flats on the artificial island The Pearl would fit the bill.

The Climate

The climate is a marked contrast to the wet and temperate conditions of the UK.  The arid temperatures average over 38 degrees from May to September, with Summertime temperatures regularly reaching an uncomfortable 40 degrees.  Rainfall is scarce, Winters are mild and the temperature rarely drops below 7 degrees.  In fact, so humid are the Summertime conditions,  that special conditions have been imposed on the country for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in 2022 (the first time that the event has been held in the region) where all venues will be indoor and air-conditioned.

Lifestyle

Allied to the FIFA World Cup, is the region’s love and interest in sport.  Athletics and sports-related activities are well promoted, and there are plenty of leisure opportunities afforded by the beachfront esplanade and the marina.  Expats are able to ride jetskis, paddleboard or go rollerblading or jogging along the picturesque promenade.  In fact, sport is such a big draw in Doha, that the government introduced the new national holiday of “National Sports Day”.   In common with other UAE regions, alcohol is only available in bars attached to international hotels and bars ask customers to show identification at the door, so tourists will need to carry their passport if they wish to enter.  To purchase alcohol other than in these bars, you need a Residence Permit and apply for an alcohol licence, which allows you to buy a certain amount of alcohol each month (10% of your salary) from a particular shop on the outskirts of town.  In line with the diverse population of Doha, a large variety of international cuisine is available, including Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Korean as well as typical Middle Eastern food.   There are also American fast food chains and coffee houses available.

There are also plentiful private international schools to cater for the many expats that are now living there.

There are also many malls and souks where you can spend your hard-earned cash.  Most malls in Doha are open from 10am to 10pm Saturday to Thursday.  Most are closed on Friday mornings but will open up in the evenings.  Some malls also operate “family days” where single men will not be allowed to enter.  The souqs (markets) obviously offer a more authentic Middle Eastern shopping experience, with a wide range of goods on offer including gold, souvenirs and fresh produce.

If, after much research and planning, you decide to emigrate to Doha, either for the short or longterm, then we are able to provide one-way emigration insurance.  This specialist insurance has been created to insure you for cancellation before you travel, for many possible problems as you travel and then for a specified amount of time after you arrive in your final destination.  Unlike many other one-way policies, our First Class Emigration policy covers you beyond immigration, as you settle into your new life, and as you make more long-term provisions.

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