Qatar, and especially its capital, Doha, is a haven for expats. In fact, approximately 500 new expats land in Qatar’s airport each day, ready to start their new life abroad. So with such a huge flood of international teachers and expats heading to this Middle Eastern country, what are some need-to-know details about living and working in Qatar? Read on below.
Women in Qatar
Although Qatar is located smack in the middle of the Middle East, many teachers will find that the laws around how women should conduct themselves in public are much more relaxed. Women are allowed to drive in Qatar, and aren’t expected to wear an abaya (the full-length black gown). Modest dress is expected, however, so covering your shoulders, chest, stomach, and knees are advised.
Women who are in Qatar sponsored under their husband’s visa are free to enter and exit Qatar as they please and needn’t worry about obtaining an exit permit.
Expats in Qatar
Coming in at number 164 in terms of size of countries in the world, Qatar’s population is only about 1.9 million residents at any given time. And of those 1.9 million people, Qatar has the highest number of expat workers – mostly from South Asia and the Philippines – meaning that native Qataris are outnumbered by approximately eight to one. This, unsurprisingly, is the highest ratio of expats to native citizens in the world.
This means that many teachers report that founding friendship circles in Qatar was a painless process for them, and that expat communities and culture in Qatar are thriving.
Driving in Qatar
To drive a car in Qatar, you’ll need an international driver’s license. Though you can rent a car for a week if you’re only visiting, if you plan to be driving for longer than that, you’ll need the international license. Residents are expected to have a Qatari driving license.
The paperwork will be the least of your concerns, as though Qatar is known to be a very safe country with an extremely low crime rate, many expats report that driving in Qatar was a little more thrilling than they’re comfortable with. That being said, we recommend that if you don’t feel prepared to drive in extreme traffic congestion and with aggressive drivers, you look into transportation alternatives. The good thing is that there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving.
Traveling in and around Qatar
One thing that may come as a shock to teachers heading to Qatar for a position is that you cannot come and go as you please. You’ll need your sponsor’s (work place’s) permission to leave Qatar for any reason – travel, family visits, etc.
This is a policy to discuss with your future employer to clarify any concerns. Many employers grant multi-exit visas, and others will provide an emergency contact should you need an exit permit on short notice for, say, a family emergency. Many employers, especially international schools, are understanding and accommodating regarding the issue of exit permits.
Qatar is a great place to teach in an emerging economic and cultural hub in the Middle East. If you’d like to explore available teaching positions in Qatar, visit our job board.