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Qatar Property Buyers’ Guide

Qatar, an independent emirate on the west coast of the Persian Gulf, is a small desert peninsular that combines tradition and modernity. If you’re seeking a paradise to emigrate to that offers vibrant and exciting entertainment, business and leisure, this small country in the heart of the Middle East might be perfect for you.

Not only does it hold a promising role in business, politics and education, but it allows you to immerse yourself in a rich Arabian culture of archaeological sites, artefacts and museums. It also tempts visitors with 563km of coastline jutting along the west coast of the Arabian Gulf. Evidence of the country’s seafaring past is visible in the towns and cities that sit next to the endless crystal waters.

If you’re considering a move to Qatar, here’s everything you need to know.

Geography

Qatar joins the mainland by sharing an 87km land border with Saudi Arabia. Close by you’ll find Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Iran. Due to its location and arid landscape, Qatar is a flat, low-lying desert offering coastal salt pans and elevated limestone formations that sit on the west coast, under which you’ll find the Dukhan oil field. Qatar is divided into 8 municipalities, Ad-Dawhah being the most populous and containing the capital city - Doha.

Qatar is full of iconic and stunning architecture that you can explore. Doha is home to Doha tower, standing 238 metres above the West Bay as well as Aspire Tower and Tornado Tower. On top of these stunning modern buildings, you can also visit the likes of Al Zubara Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Barzan Towers, both traditional forts that bring you deeper in touch with the history of Qatar.

Entertainment

Aside from beautiful buildings, there’s plenty to keep you entertained while living or working in Qatar. One of the best ways to see the country is by spending some time deep in the desert. Dune bashing is an incredible adventure where you drive across the desert and spend a night camping in the dunes. If you enjoy city life, Souq Waqif in Doha is a bustling market full of fabric, spices, sweets, household goods, souvenirs and art and plenty of tasty Qatari, Syrian and Lebanese eateries.

Walking the Doha Corniche is the perfect way to spend a Sunday. It’s a 7km promenade that stretches across the Persian Gulf. Enjoy a coffee, take a photo with the iconic pearl shell or hop on one of the many fitness machines. Notable mentions include the Museum of Islamic Art and East-West/West-East installation by sculptor Richard Serra. Qatar was also chosen to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup - the first ever to be held in the Arab world.

Weather

One of the biggest draws to Qatar is the guaranteed weather. It has a dry, subtropical climate and low annual rainfall, ideal if you’re looking to emigrate somewhere with a bit more sunshine. In fact, Qatar offers year-round sunshine and very hot summers, so it’s something you would need to take into consideration.

The seasons in Qatar can be split into two, hot and cool. Average temperatures in January are around 17°C and in July, 36°C, but can occasionally hit over 40°C+. So if you can’t handle the heat, summers in Qatar may not be tolerable for you.

Culture

Qatar is a fascinating cultural mosaic home to the second-largest expat population in the world. It has a fast-paced economy and invests highly in its cultural heritage with world-renowned museums, art galleries, film festivals and open-air concerts. While it has changed a lot in the last few decades, Qatar is still in touch with its roots while still aiming to be forward-thinking.

The language in Qatar is Arabic, however, English is widely spoken, as well as Persian and Urdu. The official religion of Qatar is Islam and the government is connected to the Islamic Sharia, however, you are allowed to practise any religion and there is a high tolerance to those with other beliefs. There is also a large gender imbalance due to the number of expatriate men, with men outnumbering women three to one. You may come across some old-world values and customs because of this, such as gender-segregated public environments.

Where to buy properties

In order to live in Qatar, you will need a Work Residence Permit. These are given to individuals who wish to live and work in Qatar. You will need a Qatari sponsor to start your application which will allow you to get a temporary visa. You can then transform this into a Residence Permit once you complete the application process.

As an expat, you will only be able to buy property in certain locations where you can choose to invest in freehold property or purchase leasehold rights.

These areas include:

  • Qatifiya West Bay
  • The Pearl
  • Al Khor Resort
  • Al Qasar (administrative area)
  • Al Dafna (administrative area)
  • Onaiza (administrative area)
  • Al Wasil
  • Khraij
  • Jabal Thaileb (investment area)
  • Rawadat Al-Jahaniyah (investment area)

Doha is a popular place to live among expats, making The Pearl, West Bay, Al Qasar, Al Dafna and Onaiza highly sought after districts.

Types of properties

If you choose to live in larger cities such as Doha, there are plenty of apartments for sale that offer stunning views and pool access. Many of these apartments sell for around 2.5 million QAR, particularly in The Pearl, which is around £500,000, $680,000 or €600,000. There are a small number of townhouses available for a similar price range.

West Bay in Doha is also a great option for affordable city living. If you’re a single professional, a furnished studio apartment with pool access in West Bay will cost you 1.3 million QAR. If you’re looking for a 2-bed, it will cost you around 1.6 million QAR.

Traditional villas can be found at a cheaper price in Al Khor Resort. A 6-bed, 7-bath villa sells for 2.8million QAR. Al Khor is only 45 minutes away from the capital but offers a much more relaxing alternative to bustling city life.

Who will enjoy Qatar?

Around 88% of the 2.9 million that live in Qatar are expats. It provides the opportunity to experience Arabian culture without giving up too much of the Western lifestyle. Coined as the ‘Middle East for Beginners’, Qatar is popular among people from all over the world. The biggest groups of expats in Qatar are from India, the Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and you’ll also find expats from the UK, Canada and the USA.

As a majority of the population live in Doha, here you’ll find a variety of international schools with very good reputations. There is also a fantastic range of resorts, beaches, shopping malls, restaurants and bars to provide you with excellent quality of living. Qatar is well-known for high salaries and a relaxed approach to working, which makes it popular among young working professionals.

Qatar also has an excellent healthcare system, with well-trained professionals and efficient ambulances. Most expats will have health insurance provided by their employer, however, if not, it’s easy to get insurance by applying for a Hamad health card.

What else do you need to know?

Overall, the lifestyle is enjoyable for expats, it’s easy to make friends, there is plenty to do and the weather is great! But what else should you consider before making the move to Qatar?

Firstly, the cost of living is slightly higher than in other places because, for example, Qatar has to import most of its food. However, the lucrative pay packages offered by Qatari companies still allow you to live comfortably. One thing to note is that working hours can be around 40-50 hours a week (except during Ramadan when it is less) and the working week is Sunday to Thursday with Friday and Saturday off.

The public transport system in Qatar is virtually non-existent, meaning a personal vehicle is essential. However, the cost of fuel is fairly low and there is a possibility for you to rent vehicles on a long-term lease.

While Qatar is a Muslim country, it is much more relaxed than its neighbours. A non-Muslim can buy alcohol with a licence at some hotels, bars and restaurants, but it can only be purchased in a limited quantity from the Qatar Distribution Centre.

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