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A comprehensive guide to help expats buy property in Qatar

Updated on 03-05-2022

When you think about a perfect place for international investment, what do you picture?

A location where the weather is great year-round and the economy booming? A place where the government has embraced foreign property ownership? Are we talking about a tropical paradise?

But here's something else we might be described as: one of the fastest-growing economies in the world—home to over 100 nationalities. Yet, of the 2.8 million people who reside here, only 15% are Qatari nationals.

The country is rich in natural resources, but it also has a keen focus on the future. It recognises that a carbon-free future could be just around the corner and is investing and expanding its massive resources in innovations, surging into horizons like financial services, hospitality, real estate, and developing communities where expats can buy property, live and enjoy its benefits.

For potential investors buying properties in Qatar, such as yourself, this is a timely opportunity to get a head start in the next phase of Qatar's development. So here’s an insightful guide that will walk you through everything you should know before you buy a property in Qatar. This article will give you a complete checklist, from the best areas to buy property in Qatar to the finest shopping and dining spots.

Things expats should know before buying a house in Qatar

After years of talking and planning about expanding the real estate market, in 2020, Qatar released a resolution that makes it straightforward for foreigners to buy property and receive a permanent visa in return. The new QR28 rule applies to all properties, from residential to retail and commercial, and will make Qatar a destination for investors from all over the world, as well as people looking for a great place to live.

There are two permit options: temporary and permanent. If you invest QR 730,000 or more (about USD$200,000), you'll get a temporary residency permit that allows them to live and work here. Those who spend more than QR 3.65 million (about USD$ 1 million) on investment in Qatar get a permanent residency permit and enjoy access to a variety of benefits like healthcare, education and premium investment opportunities in exclusive economic sectors, ensuring a comfortable life and secure future.

Nine exciting communities are open for expat investors and buyers to invest in and own 100% freehold property, and these are also the best investment opportunities in Qatar for expats.

  • West Bay Lagoon
  • Lusail
  • Pearl
  • Al Khor resort
  • Al Dafna (Administrative area 60)
  • Al Dafna (Administrative area 61)
  • Onaiza (Administrative area 63)
  • Al Kharaej
  • Jabal Thuaileb

In addition, 16 areas offer leasehold properties in Qatar that can be purchased by international investors.

  • Msheireb (Area 13)
  • Fareej Abdulaziz (Area 14)
  • Al Doha Al Jadeeda (Area 15)
  • Al Ghanim Alateeq (Area 16)
  • Al Rifaa and Old Al Hitmi (Area 17)
  • As Salatah (Area 18)
  • Bin Mahmoud (Area 22)
  • Bin Mahmoud (Area 23)
  • Rawdat Al Khail (Area 24)
  • Al Mansoura and Fereej Bin Durham (Area 25)
  • Al Najma (Area 26)
  • Umm Ghuwailina (Area 27)
  • Al Khulaifat (Area 28)
  • Al Sadd (Area 38)
  • Al Mirqab Al Jadeed and Fereej Al Nasr (Area 39)
  • Doha International Airport (Area 48)

Qatar is booming with new energy and potential

Located along the Arabian Gulf, Qatar is a booming country with a bright future. Despite the country’s rich heritage and natural resources, the government is forward thinking and is ambitious for new opportunities to showcase the country's rich culture, culinary expertise, and innovative nature.

Qatar has more than USD$ 62,000 per capita annual GDP and USD$ 35 billion in yearly revenues from natural gas. With oil and gas currently its main economic drivers, Qatar is determined and taking fast action to lay the groundwork for a future that wouldn’t depend on energy. While oil may be king, Qatar puts numerous resources into newer services like real estate and public infrastructure, sustainable food supply chains, and technologies. Individuals looking to invest in their future can look towards the Qatari market at its current stage for unlimited potential returns tomorrow.

Urban communities offer a high quality of life in Qatar

Qatar’s real estate sector has grown greatly to provide fantastic value to expats who dream of buying property in Qatar. We're often asked what it's like to live on Pearl Qatar. Well, as you can see, it's pretty amazing.

About 20 minutes from Doha is Lusail - a smart city that's redefining urban living standards and gorgeous waterfront views in the most sought-after neighbourhoods. The city's 19 districts are expected to accommodate nearly half a million residents, professionals, and tourists. Residents get to enjoy a host of services facilitated digitally, from education and health to energy distribution.

The Pearl, Qatar, is one of the most ambitious real estate developments in the Middle East. It has 10 Mediterranean-inspired precincts and hundreds of leisure areas and dining destinations. But it also has some of the most iconic images of Qatar. It's a tribute to both Qatar's past and its future — a look back to its rich history of pearl diving and trading while showcasing its vision for itself going forward.

West Bay is a stunning waterfront area within Doha that contains the prominent districts of Al Dafna, Al Qassar, Onaiza, and West Bay Lagoon. An eclectic mix of restaurants, upscale retail establishments, beautiful parks, and museums await you in this part of Doha.

For investors and expats looking for properties for sale in Qatar, there’s an array of beautiful areas to explore and invest in.

A superb venue for the FIFA 2022 

With the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, there'll be no shortage of activities to do. In fact, we're expecting that this event will draw even more attention than previous ones. This is the first time that the World Cup will be hosted in a Middle Eastern country, making it a proud moment for Middle Eastern football fans. All games will be played within Doha or near the city (about 50 km away at most). Four stadiums will act as venues for the games — one in Lusail, one in Al Khor, and two in Doha, making it the most compact World Cup event in history. The event will showcase the global appeal of Qatari culture in addition to its growing economy and rapid modernisation and infrastructure to match international standards.

Key things to know when buying property in Qatar as an expat

If you're considering a move to Qatar, one of the most important things you'll need to do is find out how much housing will cost. The good news is that, although prices are on the rise, they haven't yet hit the astronomical levels you'll find in other countries. It's important to note that real estate prices vary depending on the location you're considering, for example, in Pearl. Qatar, the price per square meter ranges from QR 12,000 to 25,000 (about USD$ 3,200 to 6,800). In Al Sadd, you can expect costs to run from QR 7,500 to 8,500 (about USD$ 2,000 to 2,300) per square meter.

You can buy a freehold or leasehold property as an expat and get a mortgage too. The Qatar Central Bank has several regulations when it comes to mortgage lending to foreign investors, we have listed them below:

  • Maximum mortgage tenure cannot exceed 20 years.
  • Expats must be 65 years old at the time of loan maturity.
  • A minimum downpayment of 30% shall be paid by the expat buyer.
  • Loan to value can be a maximum of up to 70% of the property price, and the maximum loan amount will be set by the bank (this can range from QR 3 to 4 million depending on the bank and loan type).
  • The loan will be calculated based on the monthly income and other financial commitments. Repayment cannot exceed 50% of the borrowers’ income, including other liabilities. 

What mortgage documents do I need to get a mortgage in Qatar?

If you're an expat salaried interested in buying a freehold property as your home or investment, you'll need to get a few documents together to prove your income and identity. 

These documents include:

  • Copy of ID and passport
  • Salary certificate addressed to the concerned bank
  • Latest six month bank statement, if the salary is being transferred from a different bank
  • Liability letter addressed to the concerned bank if the loan is transferred from a different bank
  • Completed bank application form
  • Quotation from the developer mentioned the payment plan or copy of title deed and property images, if available
  • Down payment receipt
  • Security cheques post mortgage approval.

The paperwork for a self employed expat is different from that of a salaried expat. You will need to prepare the following documents:

  • Copy of ID and passport
  • The latest two years of audited financial statements of the business
  • Copy of commercial registration
  • Latest 12 months of business statement if the account is held in a separate bank
  • Latest 6 months of personal bank statement, if the account is held in a different bank
  • Completed bank application form
  • Quotation from the developer mentioned the payment plan or copy of title deed and property images, if available
  • Down payment receipt
  • Security cheques post mortgage approval.

The documents remain the same for freehold and leasehold properties. Although there’s a difference in the following circumstances:

  • The property map and title deed have to be provided
  • For self employed expats buying resale property in Qatar, the initial agreement between the seller and yourself will have to be provided

If you are buying a leasehold property to benefit from the 99 years leasehold period will have the option to renew the lease for another 99 years.

Which banks provide mortgages for buying property in Qatar?

If you're looking to buy a home in Qatar, there are a few different mortgage options available. You'll likely be approaching local banks like Doha Bank, Commercial bank of Doha and Qatar National Bank for financing, although you can approach a few international banks like the HSBC as well. It’s important you get down to researching the banks that approve the developer and will finance the particular property you wish to buy in Qatar.

Mortgage types vary depending on the property location, as well as your preferred lending bank. If you're buying an energy-efficient property, Doha Bank offers a green mortgage at comparatively lower rates. Developers can also point you in the right direction to approach the bank that will finance their projects, and you will be able to decide on a lender who will match your investment goals. 

Should you buy off plan property or contact a real estate agency?

There are many ways to invest in Qatari real estate. One of them is to go directly to a developer and buy property. This is called off-plan buying, and it's a great way to get in on the ground floor of a luxurious new development. You will have the advantage of buying property that's under construction or about to be built at highly competitive prices. Developers may also offer desirable and affordable payment plans spread over 4 or 5 years on average.

Buying a house in Qatar is not hard. Although you may be attracted to the discounts on property,  it can be complicated and time consuming when you've never done it before or you don’t have the time to do it all yourself. As a foreign investor, you could run into challenges involving mortgage regulations, unforeseen developer fees, and construction progress delays. 

When you're buying property in Qatar, you may be thinking of doing it yourself -  it is simple enough, but there are a lot of details and requirements to keep track of. So why work with a reputed local real estate agent? For one thing, they'll help you navigate all of the steps involved in property purchasing. They'll also take care of all the needs, so you won't have to worry about payment deadlines, documentation and progress updates on your own.

How long does it take to complete a property purchase in Qatar?

If you've agreed on the purchase contract with the seller and finished the complete paperwork, it will take about 30 days or less to complete the property purchase. After this step, you'll have to register your property with the Real Estate Registration and Authentication Department, which is part of Qatar's Ministry of Justice, and this will be done in about 10 to 15 business days.

Congratulations! You are now the happy owner of a property in Qatar. The good news is that once you have completed this process, you will be able to secure a temporary or permanent residency that will be available for your immediate family members.

Things to know about living in Qatar

Climate 

The weather in Qatar is dry and subtropical throughout the area, so you can expect hot to cool temperatures all year round. You'll experience hot summer months (May-October) when temperatures can soar as high as 43°C (109°F). For the rest of the year (November-April), it’s cool, and temperatures dip below 14°C (57°F), with January being the coolest month of the year.

Things to do in Qatar

Adventure and luxury go hand-in-hand when you’re in the right location. Qatar is a country that offers many ways to acquaint yourself with its unique culture and feel right at home. Whether it's a rugged journey into the desert, an educational tour around the city, or an exploration of its culinary delights, there are many ways to delight yourself with this country's spectacular offerings for its residents and visitors alike. 

Qatar is a place where both the past and the future meet. A place where you can experience lasting traditions revolving around the desert while also marvelling at cutting-edge modern architecture.

One of Qatar's most cherished traditions is Al Enna, the winter camping season. Tourists and locals keep this tradition alive by camping overnight in fancy Bedouin-style tents, lighting bonfires to keep warm and enjoying Qatar's delectable cuisine.

Image Source: iloveqatar.net

Once you've experienced what it's like to camp in Qatar, don't miss an opportunity to explore the Khor Al Adaid or the Inland Sea, a natural wonder that's been recognised as a UNESCO heritage site. Visitors are ever so attracted by the sea seeping into the desert, presenting one of the world’s ultimate ecosystems open to the public.

Thrilling water sports and rides

Qatar is a small but beautiful country with diverse attractions. The advantage of being surrounded by the Arabian Sea offers Qatar a 560+ kilometre coastline. Do you enjoy water sports and adventure? Then, you'll definitely want to check out Qatar’s scuba diving activities and explore shipwrecks and beautiful reefs in the Arabian Gulf. Go kayaking around the coastal city of Al Khor and discover the Al Thakira mangroves—you won't regret it!

Shopping in Qatar

Doha is a city that can keep you busy for days, whether you're living there or just visiting. If you're looking for the ultimate luxury experience in shopping, dining, and entertainment, check out Al Hazm.

For a bit of a yesteryear’s appeal, you can also explore Qatar's traditional street markets or souqs. Here you'll find rare Middle Eastern products and items, whether it's spices, perfumes, clothing, or accessories. 
 
Need something more family-friendly than that?  Head over to Mall of Qatar, which has over 500 family-friendly attractions and unique shops. Grab something delicious to eat (maybe some traditional Qatari food?), go bowling or take the kids to an indoor rock climbing facility — take your pick!

Pamper your taste buds

The food scene in Qatar is rich and varied, and one of the best ways to explore the culture is by sampling their most popular dishes. The variety of spices used in Qatari cuisine will blow your mind: saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, turmeric, and more. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, try camel milk—it tastes like regular milk! 

Qatar's cuisine is a mixture of various styles of cooking from other countries — particularly taking inspiration from the cuisines of Lebanon and India or entire regions like North Africa. Try Al Manchab, located in Al Hazim Mall.

For masterful home-style cooking, pay a visit to Al Jasra Traditional Food in Souq Waqif. Here you'll find some of the most popular  Qatari cuisines, from lamb with rice to sumptuous stews and aromatic dishes that you will fall in love with.

For a more refined dining experience, Jiwan Qatar is our top choice. The speciality is a more ‘contemporary’ kind of cuisine with a reinvented menu that supports locally grown produce. They offer traditional Qatari dishes with a millennial twist. Head to the National Museum of Doha, which hosts Jiwan Qatar. 

Discover the perfect property for sale in Qatar with the Pearl Gates

Living in Qatar is an experience like no other. As one of the most exciting cities in the world, it's only natural that you'll want to call this place home. Our team is here to support you every step of the way — from scouting the best locations to closing the deal and getting you past the line. The Pearl Gates real estate agents in Qatar and Dubai are the most remarkable local property experts who will help you rent or buy residential and commercial properties in Pearl Qatar, Lusail City, West Bay, or Msheireb Downtown and beyond.

Why not get in touch with our property experts to know more about buying  or renting property in Qatar?

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