What you need to know before moving to Qatar
Qatar is a breathtaking country in the Arabian Peninsula: incredibly modern, with a gorgeous local culture and history waiting to be explored. Let us here at The Pearl Gates be the first to welcome you to your new home.
We know this journey is momentous. To help you get settled to your new life in Qatar, here are a couple of things you need to know. As always, you are encouraged to reach out to us if you have any questions about Qatar and the local real estate.
Qatar: An overview
Sitting on the Qatar Peninsula in the northeastern end of the Arabian Peninsula, the State of Qatar is a jewel in the desert. A small country with a total land area of only 4,471 square miles, it counts as one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
Qatar is home to approximately 2.639 million residents as of 2017 estimates. Majority of these are of non-Qatari descent, which makes the country a melting pot of Arabian, Asian, and Western cultures. Arabic is the official language, but thanks to a highly educated populace, English is also widely spoken.
Other quick facts you need to know about Qatar include the following:
- Capital: Doha
- Religion: Islam
- Demonym: Qatari
- Currency: Riyal (QAR)
- Time zone: UTC+3 (AST)
- Driving side: Right
- National day: December 18
Qatar issues tourist, work, and family visit visas. For this guide, we’ll be focusing more on work and family residence visas.
Qatar has made it easier for foreign nationals to enter the country through the visa waiver programme. There are essentially two kinds. The first one grants the holder up to 90 days in Qatar with the waiver valid for 180 days upon the date of issuance. The second one entitles the holder up to 30 days in Qatar, with the waiver valid for 30 days. This can be extended for an additional 30 days.
Both waiver programmes are valid for single and multiple entries.
Countries eligible for the visa waiver program include:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
For more information about visa-free entry and the visa waiver program, click here.
Work Residence Permit (RP)
Foreign nationals who wish to work and live in Qatar must secure a Work Residence Permit from their employer, which can be a company or an individual.
In most cases, the employer handles most of the work in processing the work residence permit. You will be given a temporary visa when you first enter Qatar, and this will be converted to the permit. The process can take between two to four weeks or more, and during this time, applicants are required to stay in Qatar.
Once given, the work residence permit must be renewed by your employer every year.
Family Residence Permit
Once you’ve been issued your work residence permit, you can now sponsor immediate family members to come and live with you in Qatar. We call this the Family Residence Permit
Each individual, including infants, must have their own residence permits. The validity of the visa ranges from one to five years. Married female family members being sponsored to live in Qatar can work in the country, provided they have the permission of their husbands. They must register with the Labor Department.
Education in Qatar
If you are moving to Qatar with your children, you’re not the only one. There are many great schools in the country, but lately there’s been a problem with demand and supply. The local population plus the children of expats = long waiting lists or, in some cases, fully occupied schools.
We recommend to start applying for schools as soon as you have decided to bring your children with you to Qatar. Qatari schools usually accept applications every January, so be sure to submit your children’s before the deadline. Doing so will put them on a waiting list. If you can afford it, you can also send your children to Qatar for formal assessments, which can increase their likelihood of being accepted to the school.
Another route is to homeschool your children and wait for a school to open up. This is quite commonplace, as the expat population in Qatar is ever-shifting.