Relocation Guide: Qatar Our guide to living and working overseas
Forget the 20th-century stereotype of a rich Arab Gulf state, of hastily thrown up tower blocks, chaotic streets and bafflingly tacky urban sculpture: Qatar - or at least the capital, Doha - has metamorphosed into a self-confident, elegant country that gives the UAE a run for its money.
Area: 11,437 km2 Capital City: Doha Currency: Riyals Government: Absolute Monarchy Language: Arabic / English Population: 1,541,130 Population Density: 74km2 Religion: Islam
Air Energi in Qatar
Air Energi has been fully operational in Qatar for five years, and now supports almost 200 contractors in the region. The office is located near the airport just off the C ring road Toyota signal (corniche end). The building does not have a name but we are located on the 3rd floor. Please ensure you visit the office soon after your arrival. It is important that you arrange a suitable time to visit, ensuring that there is somebody to meet you.
Overview of Doha
Doha’s history may delve back into the 19th century, but the face of the city that visitors see today only really started to emerge after the discovery of oil and Qatar’s independence in the 20th century. Over the last few decades the display of new wealth has come in the 1
form of gleaming new skyscrapers and office blocks, but now the government is starting to look to the long term when the oil reserves dry up, by reinventing itself as a major Business tourist destination with hotels, restaurants and purpose-built conference and exhibition centres. There is now plenty for Qatar tourists as well as business people to enjoy, with a sprinkling of historical attractions in the city as well as out of town excursions.
Oil and gas in Qatar
Since the mid 1980’s, there has been a major breakthrough in the economic situation, with the discovery of the world’s largest known non-associated offshore gas field in Qatari territory. Considerable resources have been invested in the development of facilities to exploit, process and export this valuable resource. Additionally, the Government of Qatar has taken various measures to boost the production of existing oil and onshore gas reserves to substantially increase their output.
Qatar is an oil-rich peninsula jutting out into the Gulf between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. There are hills in the northwest, but the rest of the country consists of sand dunes and salt flats, with scattered vegetation towards the north.
Summer (June to September) is very hot with low rainfall. But cools off in Spring and Autumn.
Credit / Debit Cards and ATM’s American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Travellers Cheques are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, take cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling. Banking hours are Sunday - Thursday 07:3013:00
You will find many luxurious western hotels in Doha, including the Sheraton Doha, Resort, Marriott Gulf Hotel, Ramada, etc. Many contractors new to the region will stay here until they find more permanent lodgings. Virtually all expatriates working in Qatar rent their property, and many are on employment contracts that include free or heavily subsidized housing, furniture and utilities. Most of the expatriate accommodation in Doha is in compounds which include a range of facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts and playgrounds. The majority of villas and houses have gardens and at least three bedrooms. It is also possible to find separate townhouses and apartments to rent through local real estate agencies.
Cost of Living
* This is an approximate guide only Some expatriates living in Qatar have reported that the cost of living, and indeed of many everyday things has increased; school fees, groceries, restaurants and petrol, plus some rental accomodation having up to 3 price hikes in one year. because of the dramatic changes, we will only quote recent rental property prices here: Unfurnished 2-bed apartment QR5,000 Villa with 3-4 bedrooms QR12,000 Villa on expatriate compound QR20,000
© Air Energi 2013
Food and Drink
Qatar has many western supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Carrefour where you can get almost anything you need. Doha’s international hotels cater to high hygiene standards. If you plan to dine or purchase food from other more local sources, only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Salad and mayonnaise may carry a risk. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. It is advised that you drink bottled water where possible, and avoid having ice in your drinks. Qataris pride themselves on their hospitality, and food and drink is an important part of this.
Many people in Qatar don’t use knives and forks when eating traditional food, preferring to use their right hand – the left hand should not be used for eating, or indeed for shaking hands, as it is reserved for more demeaning tasks. Of course, the hand should be clean and the nails cut short. Polite Qataris will only use three, or perhaps four, of their fingers to pick up the food. Alternatively, they may use bread to scoop up the food. Qataris have a sweet tooth. Many of the dishes they eat use sugar, and many Qataris believe in consuming a spoonful of honey morning and night. Dates are a very important food, and can be consumed at any time of the day.
The visitor should be fully aware of Muslim religious laws and customs. There are no restrictions on clothing, although it is recommended that you dress modestly. A simple rule to remember is to cover knees and shoulders. Of course, at the beach and swimming pools, shorts and bikinis are acceptable. It is considered impolite for expatriate men to wear traditional Qatari clothing.
Mowasalat, Qatar’s sole public transport provider runs this 24-hour metered taxi service. All vehicles are in distinctive bright turquoise in colour with ‘Karwa’ printed on the sides. They are all new, clean and safe to use.
Available from local companies at the airport and hotels, however local road hazards apply
Driving in Qatar
You should bear in mind that if you are working in Ras Laffan and want to live in the city it is approximately sixty to ninety minutes drive each way. It is advised to take care driving on the major road between Ras Laffan and Doha, especially at night or during low visibility, as accidents are frequent here. Driving is on the right.
Assume every parked car is about to pull out into the road without signalling or checking. You will get forced off the road by people driving on the wrong side, screech to a halt to avoid people lunging into your right of way into roundabouts, learn to pause a second before going through a green light because of people not stopping.
Alcohol is restricted within the Muslim religion, and therefore can only be purchased in licensed bars, restaurants and hotels. For consumption off the premises, a Liquor licence must be purchased. You can find out how to obtain a licence on: +469 9412 / 469 9413 or visit www.qdc.com.qa
There are several hospitals in Qatar which are of a high international standard. We will be able to provide you with a contributory healthcare plan, but this does not cover consultations with a doctor or dental care. Regulations can change at short notice. It is advisable that you speak to your GP about any medication you may need to take with you. If you are taking any controlled drugs, we recommend a doctors letter to cover you for any customs enquiries you may receive.
Emergency Numbers Police / fire / ambulance 999
It is recommended that you are up to date with typhoid and polio vaccinations. Speak to your medical practitioner for this.
Ras Laffan Industrial City, situated along the northeast coast of Qatar, has been in recent times deemed as one of the fastest growing industrial cites in the world. The city covers an area of 106 square kilometres and is expected to expand to nearly 250 square kilometres in the near future. The development of RLC has seen a remarkable transformation from what was once a wild desert to a hub of thriving energy related industrial base. It is around a 60-90 minute drive north from Doha. Visit www.raslaffan. com for up-todate information, press releases and other services.
Doha International Airport This is the only commercial airport in Qatar. It has three mosques, Wi-Fi, and a few restaurants. In the past, the airport was mostly used by Qatari Holiday makers and foreign workers coming for the oil and gas sector. Now the airport is attracting more people such as holiday makers and transit travelers. The existing airport will be replaced in 2012 with the $500m New Doha International Airport.
Transport into the City
We offer a meet and greet service for new arrivals. There is also a taxi rank outside the arrival lobby, plus car hire kiosks - although we recommend a period of adjustment before you get into a car in Doha.
Public transport is limited in Qatar. The road system is fair, but conditions are poor during the wet season. There is a new bus network in Qatar, details to follow.
© Air Energi 2013
Tra vel Tips Be prepared
Generally, overseas travellers are more likely to be injured through unintentional injuries than to be struck down by exotic infectious diseases. In fact, accidents and traffic collisions are the most frequent cause of death among travellers, so ensure you have good insurance and if you are hiring a vehicle, ensure it is in good working order.
Copy your documents
In the unfortunate event of your luggage going missing, or your passport / wallet is stolen or lost, it is a good idea to have copies that can help you with re-issues. Take 2 colour photocopies each of your passport, plus visa stamps and documents, driving licence, important prescriptions or other ID documents. Make 2 sets of the documents and keep these copies separate from your main luggage, preferably in 2 separate bags. It is also a good idea to copy scanned or phtocopied documents to an Internet based e-mail account. Make sure someone at home knows how to access it in case of an emergency.
Check with your medical practitioner on what vaccines are required before your travel. Due to your medical history, you may require more than one dose, or you may need boosters for childhood vaccines. Check the latest travel advice and travel bulletins for your destination before you depart, and also while travelling, so you can ensure you have the latest information. Common diseases contracted by travellers include those which are the result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or not practising safe sex, plus a number of mosquito or tick-borne diseases endemic to tropical areas. Be sure to take measures to avoid being bitten such as wearing light-coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs, regularly applying an appropriate insect repellent and staying in mosquito-proof accommodation or using bed nets.
Taking medicines with you Book a checkup at your doctor or dentist, before you leave. If you wear glasses or contacts lenses, bring an extra pair of glasses and your prescription. Persons taking prescription medications should make sure they have an adequate supply for the trip, and/or bring their prescription, making sure it includes the medication trade name, manufacturer’s name, generic name, and dosage. Please also be aware that certain medicines are forbidden in Dubai, such as Codeine. Please check that any medication you are taking is legal and if you are unsure please contact us and we will check for you. Prepare a simple medical kit of over-the3
counter medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, antihistamine, antiseptic, diarrhoea medication), bandaids, thermometer, sunscreen, and insect repellent. When travelling overseas with medicine, (including over-the-counter or private prescription) it is important that you talk to your doctor and discuss the amount of medicine you will need to take. Carry a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is, how much you will be taking, and stating that it is for your own personal use. Leave the medicine in its original packaging so it is clearly labelled with your own name and dosage instructions. If you have to inject your medication, inform your airline before you travel and, if necessary, arrange a letter from your doctor explaining why you need to carry them.
Your health on long-haul flights
Keep important medication with you in case your luggage goes missing. To help avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT): drink plenty of fluids, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and whilst seated, stretch and rotate your feet and lower legs. Walking around the cabin at regular intervals will help.
If you have been scuba diving, don’t travel in an aircraft for at least 24 hours after your final dive.
Coping with Jetlag
Factor the effects of jet lag into your itinerary. In order to cope with Jetlag you should get a good deal of sleep before your journey. It is also important to rest as much as possible during your flight. Planning to arrive at your destination as near to the time when you normally go to sleep will also help with the adjustment. If you are able to plan your itinerary allow time on arrival for adjustment or plan meetings at similar times to back home. Some people advise changing their watches to destination time when they get onto the plane. While this helps many people, for those who are on regular medication, such as diabetics, watches should remain on home time until you are able to adjust your medication to local times on arrival at your destination or as suggested by your health advisor. On arrival at your destination get active as soon as possible, as exercise has been proven to improve productivity. Adjust your meals and activities to local time as soon as you can. Exposure to light is also a good way of naturally allowing your body to adjust. If you need to take a short nap, do, it will help refresh you, but don’t forget to use an alarm clock or wake up call to get you up!
If you happen to lose your baggage on arrival at your destination airport, tell the airline immediately and get suitable compensation. Agree on an amount you can spend on essential items that you will need and give them an address to deliver the luggage to when they find it. It is wise to make a copy of your passport details and any other important papers or vaccination certificates that you are carrying with you when you travel. Leave them in a safe place in the office or copy to an Internet based e-mail account. Make sure someone at home either a partner or friend knows how to access it in case of an emergency. You will need photo identification even for air travel within the UK.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times; thieves will use many tricks to distract you - wiping something off your shoulder while an accomplice is picking your pocket, getting young children to surround you while they plan to rob your belongings. Trust your instincts, especially when visiting countries where a high poverty rate comes along with high petty crime rates. When not attending meetings, try to blend in with the crowd when out and about - try not to look like a visitor! When enjoying the local nightlife, guard your food/drinks and keep your wits about you. Beware of the fact that you will be an easy target after a few too many drinks. Avoid walking home to your hotel late at night, even if it is close by. Get a taxi. Don’t take shortcuts through poorly lit areas, it pays to trust your instincts in these situations. Keep your wits about you when making new friends - men and women may come across very friendly indeed if you are the route to an easier life. Be careful of telling people where you live.
Unsafe Water - What to do
If travelling to more remote areas with poor sanitation - only drink boiled water, hot beverages, such as coffee and tea, canned or bottled carbonated beverages, beer, and wine. Ice may be made from unsafe water and should be avoided. It is safer to drink from a can or bottle of beverage than to drink from a container that was not known to be clean and dry. However, water on the surface of a beverage can or bottle may also be contaminated. Therefore, the area of a can or bottle that will touch the mouth should be wiped clean and dry.
© Air Energi 2013
Frequently asked questions Do I need a visa to enter Qatar? You may be required to enter on a business trip visa whilst your workin visa is being processed. Can I take my family with me? We advise you not to bring your family before we have secured a residency visa for you. Do I need a local bank account? Yes. We will provide you with the necessary documentation to open an account. This needs to be set up immediately to allow you to secure property and long term transportation. Will I need a medical? In order to finalise your residence visa you will be required to undergo a medical. This will be to check if you have any serious medical conditions, particularly TB or HIV. If you have either of these diseases you will not be eligible to work in Qatar.
Contacts Air Resources Qatar 3rd floor, Qatar First Investment Bank / Al Jazeera Finance Building PO BOX 2953 C Ring Road Doha Qatar Phone: +974 4451 9917 Fax: + 974 4451 9907 email@example.com