I’m talking about morals, life, and salary in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Yes, there are alcohol and dress code limits. But, no, you don’t need to wear a burqa.
There are few countries where the number of ex-pats is many times greater than the local population. One of these is hot Qatar, recognized as the wealthiest state on the planet today. It is profitable for Qatar to attract ex-pats to maintain one of the most competitive economies in the world. I became such an ex-pat too.
The salary is several times higher than the domestic one; the employer pays for housing and transport, buys air tickets and takes care of all the documents. Income is tax-free – great news. The trick is that it is difficult to get here, and once it is, it is also not easy to get used to. In my company, most of the people worked for a year or two and left. It’s about culture, and morals, and work stress – but then how lucky.
I knew almost nothing about Qatar before moving, so part of what was happening was a surprise. On the other hand, I am such a person that it will be even more difficult for me to make up my mind if I know all the nightmares in advance. And in the process itself, the complexity no longer seems so. Before receiving the Qatari contract, I worked for several months in liberal Dubai and thought that something like that should be expected from Qatar. Everything turned out differently.
Briefly about Qatar: climate, structure, citizenship
Qatar is a tiny Gulf state bordering Saudi Arabia. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, only 2.8 million people live in Qatar. The capital of the absolute monarchy is Doha.
Unlike neighbouring Dubai, Doha does not attract large tourist flows. There are no world sights, natural wonders or popular resorts here. Instead, most foreigners discover the country during long transfers at the connecting airport. The world started talking about this small country after being honoured with hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022.
The port town became a metropolis thanks to the gas and oil fields discovered in the 40s. In just thirty years, poor Qatar has become a country with one of the highest income levels. Doha has turned into a valley of skyscrapers, and recent fishermen and pearl traders bought a Ferrari. A small local population, of course, could not have rebuilt an entire country. Therefore tens of thousands of ex-pats arrived in Qatar, ready to cover any needs of the indecently wealthy Arabs.
Qatar is so tiny that all cities in 8 municipalities around the capital can be considered a suburb. To each of them go from 20 minutes to an hour maximum. As part of infrastructure development, some of the stadiums for the World Cup were built there. But in fact, almost everyone lives in Doha.
It is almost impossible to obtain citizenship here. “Almost” means a particular order of the emir of the country. Therefore, every ex-pat will one day go home (or be deported) with a swollen wallet. Excellent salaries slightly improve the local experience, but this is not certain.
The climate in Qatar ranges between +50 in summer and around +20 in winter. The most enjoyable season is from October to March. The rest of the time, your whites gurgle in your eye sockets, and in winter, after the gusty winds of the desert, sand pours even from babies. Most of the year, it is impossible to ventilate the apartment, the air conditioner works around the clock, and in the morning, it sometimes hurts to open your eyes – the air is too dry.
Transport in Doha is getting more convenient. In 2019, a metro with 13 stations was opened, the bus network expanded, and their use was simplified. For example, if three years ago it was necessary to go to the office of a transport company for a travel card, now the card is sold in all shopping centres and large supermarkets. You can also opt for services like van-hire, Doha if you are travelling in a group.
The craving for luxury and ostentatious wealth is a real scourge of local culture. Everything should be brilliant, five-star and exaggerated, or at least set a record. Qatar is very fond of the word “most” – and they invest a lot in it: if the airport, then the best, if 5G communication – then try it first, if the national flag is the largest in the world. The list goes on and on.