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Relocating to Qatar—A Practical Guide to expat life in Qatar

As Qatar emerges as a global financial attraction and economic powerhouse, increasing numbers of expats are relocating to Qatar to fill vacancies in recently opened offices and take advantage of new opportunities created by its rapidly growing economy.  The following article provides a guide to navigating the myriad of procedures and cross-cultural regulations to set up your temporary home in Qatar.
 
Visa & Residence Permits
Expat workers and their dependents/families are required to have a residence permit in order to live in Qatar. A residence permit can only be obtained if there is a contract from a Qatar-based employer. Expats  can enter on a work visa, and the employer can begin the application process, which includes medical check, finger prints registration and other procedures. QShield’s Advance Tracking Immigration Platform offers real time tracking of your immigration application, with direct access to the Ministry of Interior.
As part of the application process, medical tests must be carried out, including blood tests for Hepatitis B and C, and HIV, and a chest scan for tuberculosis. These tests can be taken at The Medical Commission. Once the residence permit is approved, a Qatari ID card is issued. Expat workers who meet certain requirements can sponsor residence permits for family members.
 
Housing and Accommodation
The majority of expats relocating to Qatar will most likely be moving to Doha, the capital and economic centre. Qatar’s other cities, such as Mesaieed, Dukhan or Ras Laffan Industrial City, host production and trade facilities for the petrochemical industry, and professionals in related industries may be stationed there. 
Few expats in Qatar own their housing, and renting is a popular option. expats have the option to rent furnished or unfurnished apartments or villas. Facilities options in Doha properties are excellent, with amenities such as swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts and playgrounds considered standard in a lot of properties.
With the meteoric rise of both the affluence of Qatar and the expat population, the rental property market has no shortage of demand and is thus a seller’s market, with rates almost tripling over the last three years. Average cost for a single bedroom or studio is between QR 3000-5000, while three bedroom villas could cost between 12,000 - 20,000, depending on location. 
The renting process is very straightforward. This is partially due to local agents being well practiced, but mostly because the majority of expats will have their accommodation organized by their employers or through contracted relocation services, such as those provided by Qshield. For those finding their own accommodation, properties available for rent can be found, both through real estate agencies and privately advertised on a number of sites
 
Transportation 
Qatar is rapidly developing its transportation infrastructure, including constructing a rail system, four line metro and highway system. In the meantime, Qatar does have an extensive and reasonably priced bus and taxi system. Newcomers who prefer to drive will find that the cost of vehicle purchase, rental, insurance and petrol are relatively low.
Expats in Qatar on a temporary basis customarily rent a car. Rental car prices average between 1300 – 1500 QR per month. Purchasing a second hand vehicle is also popular and affordable, especially due to the high turnover of expats in Qatar. Importing a car from abroad is also an option, although the car must be Gulf Standard and less than five years old.  Expect to pay legalization charges plus a customs duty of 5% value of the car. A Qatari driving license is required for expats with resident permits, and can often be quickly transferred from a driving license from a list of approved countries for a small fee. For the most updated list, check with Traffic Department
 
Healthcare
Qatar boasts some of the best healthcare available in the Middle East, with ongoing major investments and growth plans in healtcare. Qatar offers expats both private and public options, cutting-edge medical equipment, up-to-date facilities, and highly trained specialists.
Public healthcare in Qatar comprises of an extensive network of hospitals and clinics which provide free treatment to local Qataris, and largely subsidized services for expats through Hamad Medical Corporation which includes a number of general and specialized hospitals. Expats must have a government issued health card in order to use Qatar’s public healthcare system. This can be easily applied for once residency is granted.
Private healthcare and clinics offer a range of medical services in Qatar, from specialist consultation to hospital procedures and surgeries. However, private healthcare in Qatar is expensive, and many expats take out health insurance in order to benefit from it.
Private hospitals in Qatar include:
·        AI Ahli Hospital
·        AI – Emadi Hospital
·        American Hospital Doha
·       Doha Clinic Hospital.
Schools and Education
Qatar has heavily invested in its education sector, with the goal of positioning itself as a ‘knowledge based economy’, and currently has the highest literacy rate in the Arab-speaking world. Its massive Education City hosts campuses from several world-renowned universities, including Carnegie Mellon, and Georgetown. International and private schools are numerous in Qatar, offering International, French, British and American curriculums. Most schools accept new students at any time of the year; however there are often waiting lists, so it’s advisable to apply as early as possible. Secondary schools fees for private schools range from 2,500 to 9,500 QR per term.
Some of the schools in Qatar include:
·       The Cambridge School
·       Qatar Canadian School
·       Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions at Qatar
 
International universities with a resident faculty in Qatar include:



Qshield’s relocation specialists are ready to accompany you every step of the way
, providing unrivaled professional relocation services to help our customers settle in Qatar quickly while remain focused on their core business.
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