General Information

Hello and welcome to Q Homes! We decided to put up this section to help expats just moving to Qatar, as well as those already here, offering some information related to "settling in". Here's how the section is organized:

  • You'll see information divided into categories below
  • On the right bar you'll see links to other websites that may be useful
  • You can also check out our 2014 version Expat Guide to Living in Qatar, downloadable free from our website

Welcome to Qatar - an Introduction

Qatar, also known as the country or State of Qatar, is a sovereign Arab state in the Arabian Gulf. Qatar has the world's highest per capita GDP and proven reserves of oil and natural gas. Qatar tops the list of the World's richest countries by Forbes. Qatar has the second-highest human development in the Arab World after the United Arab Emirates. With a citizen population of less than 300,000 people, the majority population comprises expatriates from other nations. Qatar is also one of the safest countries in the world as per international standard.

Official Language:
Arabic is the official language in Qatar, and English is widely spoken.

Currency:
The official currency is the Qatari Riyals (QR). The exchange rate is set at USD 1 = QR 3.6.

Public holidays:
National Day: 18 December

Eid Al-Fitr Holiday: celebrates the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. As the Islamic calendar moves on the lunar cycle, the holiday dates change from year-to-year. In the current cycle, Ramadan falls in the summer months.

Eid Al AdhaHoliday: Celebrates the "festival of sacrifice" in the Islamic religion. As the Islamic calendar moves on the lunar cycle, the holiday dates change from year-to-year. In the current cycle, and usually falls 2 months and 10 days after Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha falls in the autumn months.

National Sports Day: 2nd Tuesday of every February

Work Hours:
Government Offices typically are open from 6am or 7 am until 2 pm or 3pm. Private sector establishments vary, but many work on a standard 9am to 6pm Western timeframe. In either case, Friday and Saturday are the weekend holidays.

Local time:
Greenwich Mean Time + 3 hours (GTM+3).

Important information for expats moving to Qatar

Utilities
It is common practice for tenants to transfer utilities into their name upon signing a rental contract with their landlord, and utility payment is typically the tenant's responsibility. In some cases and when advertised, the landlord may (especially as part of a marketing promotion for the unit) offer to cover certain or all of the utilities.

Maid service
Maid service is more regularly available in Qatar than is typical in Western countries, and usually at a fraction of the cost. Maid service through agencies is available daily, weekly, or on set days per week, depending on the tenant preference.

Car hire
Renting a car in Qatar is a good short-term solution and for some, may make sense as a long-term solution as well. Some expats sign long-term rental contracts with car hire companies or renewable one-month contracts and use rental cars as their regular form of transportation while in the country. One reason is to avoid the hassles of taking a car loan with a bank or through your employer to purchase a new vehicle.

Environment
The weather in Qatar is warm during Spring months, hot during Summer months, and moderate during Fall and Winter. Summer months also have high levels of humidity as is common to Gulf countries. Also, many expats choose to take their annual leave during the summer.

During the rest of the year, Qatar's climate is temperate and Mediterranean – it still may be warm depending on your country of origin, but it is sunny and generally pleasant. Winter months can get cool in the evening, down to about 10 degrees Celsius.

Education
The education system for expats in Qatar is mostly based on an International School private-school system and is mostly, but not always, segregated by nationality. Each runs as a private business with a charter from the government of Qatar. These various schools allow for an educational experience that is based on the educational systems in the expat's country of origin.

Health Care
There are a wealth of hospitals, clinics, and private doctors available in Doha. All hospitals in Qatar are a combination of in-patient and out-patient care and so many doctors have their offices for regular appointments in the Hospital complex. There are also small and large private clinics not affiliated with the major hospitals, where service may be better albeit more expensive, and you should check to make sure that your insurance covers the services.

Culture
Qatari culture is very much based on traditions stemming from the tribal roots of its people, as well as the historic significance of Islamic culture which is considered a heritage symbol and source of pride for the Qatari people. The Qatari culture is generally one of hospitality and respect; and while Qatar has a large expatriate population, the cultural environment is inherently Arab and Islamic, and Western expatriates are expected to be aware of cultural customs even if they are not themselves Muslims. Cultural sensitivity is an important aspect of being an expatriate in Qatar, and part of the adventure of living in a foreign country.