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What Qatar lacks in size, it makes up for in diversity. Expats moving to Doha, the peninsula's capital city, will discover an emerging metropolis filled with people from every corner of the world. The multi-ethnic makeup of the city's population is reflected in both the social and professional spheres, and expats should be prepared to make allowances for the different ways in which different cultures go about life.
Living in Doha as an expat
By mining and exporting gas and oil, Qatar has managed to build its economy and advance its cities at a tremendous pace. The capital city of Doha is constantly developing and offers its large expat population many job opportunities, particularly in the petrochemical sector, construction, IT, business and tourism.
Due to the high property prices, expats living in Doha generally reside in housing provided by their employers, and there are several areas and suburbs to choose from. Many expats reside in large compounds, but freestanding villas and flats are also available.
From its transport and healthcare systems to parks and housing, the city is growing at an astonishing pace. The main form of transportation remains driving, but Doha is rapidly expanding its railways and metro system, and commuters can also use Mowasalat buses and Karwa taxis to get around.
Healthcare in Doha is among the best in the Middle East. The public healthcare system is free for Qataris, while expats are often subsidised. Private healthcare is also available and is often more popular among expats, but is costly. We suggest investing in health insurance or negotiating with employers to include health benefits in contracts.
Cost of living in Doha
The standard of living in Doha is generally high, but so is the cost of living. New arrivals should negotiate an adequate salary package to cover all components of life in the emirate. Petrol is relatively cheap, but accommodation, education and food are all expensive.
Expat families and children
Expat children can make friends and orientate themselves easily in one of the many excellent public or international schools in Doha. International schools generally follow the International Baccalaureate (IB), British, American, Canadian, German, French and Indian curricula. Homeschooling is also an option, though the regulations are often vague, and Doha also has many options catering for special-needs students.
The city is becoming more and more family friendly, with plenty of activities for families to enjoy together, including various sports, parks, cinemas, and a host of festivals. There are also many social clubs and establishments where expats can integrate into the local culture and make new friends.
Climate in Doha
One of the largest challenges for expats in Doha is adapting to the extreme desert heat. Temperatures are high, rising above 104°F (40°C) between the summer months of June and August. That said, from October to May the climate is moderate and perfect for dining al fresco or playing a round of golf. In the winter, people are often surprised by the low temperatures and the lack of central heating.
Overall, an expat's experience is what they make of it. We recommend expats go in with an open mind and prepare to tackle the myriad challenges and grab the opportunities that this exciting futuristic city will throw their way.