Planning to live and work in Qatar requires a thorough understanding of their work environment, rules and regulations, and their lifestyle. This rapidly growing Gulf nation has become a hotspot for expats seeking new opportunities and a high quality of life. In fact, for two years running, Qatar has been recognized as the number one “Safest Country in the World” according to the Numbeo Crime Index, in both 2021 and 2022 meanwhile Doha, its capital, was ranked as the second safest global city in 2022.
As per Statista, the employment participation rate for expatriates stood at 91.8 percent in the early months of 2020. It is no wonder why expatriates left their country to work in Qatar because it stands out for its tax-free income benefit for workers. Unlike several other countries, Qatar does not charge income tax on its residents, allowing individuals to keep the full amount of their earnings.
Qatar Culture and Tradition
Cultural Sensitivity: Dress conservatively in public, following Islamic cultural norms. Men typically wear long trousers and a shirt, while women should cover shoulders, upper arms, and knees in public.
Photography Etiquette: Seek permission before taking photos of people and avoid photographing sensitive areas like government buildings and military sites.
Greeting Customs: Handshakes are common between Arab men, but men usually don’t shake hands with women. Some Arab individuals may greet with a hand over the heart instead.
Bargaining in Markets: Bargaining is common in markets (souqs), but there’s a limit. Requesting the “best price” is acceptable, but pushing for further discounts may be seen as disrespectful.
Alcohol and Drugs: Qatar strictly prohibits brewing, trafficking, and public intoxication of alcohol. Driving under the influence can lead to serious penalties. The country also has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs, and the import of pork is prohibited.
In Qatar, the official language is Arabic, and it is the predominant language spoken by the local population. Qataris use a distinctive Arabic dialect, which is also heard in neighboring Gulf countries. Arabic, ranked as the sixth-most spoken language globally, boasts over 360 million native speakers.
Despite Arabic being the official language, English holds significant importance in Qatar. It serves as the second language and is actively employed to foster connections with the broader Western world. Many Qatari children are taught English from an early age, and it has become the primary language of instruction in state schools. Additionally, with a substantial expatriate community in Qatar, English is often the primary language for newcomers, highlighting the country’s commitment to linguistic diversity and global communication.
Working Permits in Qatar
To work in Qatar, securing a job beforehand is essential, as entry for employment requires sponsorship from the hiring company. The company, acting as your sponsor, manages the paperwork, including the initial visa. After arrival, the company initiates the process for your work residence permit, involving documentation such as your passport and qualifications, and mandatory tests like blood tests for HIV and TB, chest x-rays, and fingerprinting. This process, lasting up to six weeks, prohibits leaving the country, with potential delays during Ramadan.
Your work permit is tied to your employer, restricting employment to them initially. While changing jobs is possible after a certain period, a no-objection certificate from the current employer is legally required. You can sponsor immediate family members, including your spouse, children, and dependent parents, to live with you. However, under Islamic law, unmarried couples can’t cohabit, and same-sex couples aren’t recognized. As the main permit holder, you must adhere to exit restrictions and obtain a no-objection certificate to leave the country, though sponsored family members are exempt.
Work Environment in Qatar
In Qatar, the standard working week spans from Sunday to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday designated as days off. Despite this, many businesses operate on Fridays, with a half-day on Thursdays. Office hours are typically divided into two shifts, from 7:30 am to 12 pm and from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Banks generally follow a schedule from Sunday to Thursday, operating from 7:30 am to 1 pm.
According to a report by PwC Middle East, employers in Qatar are actively addressing various aspects to retain and develop their highly talented workforce. While the workforce is well-qualified and optimistic about the future, the survey suggests that organizations in Qatar have the opportunity to enhance employee satisfaction further, contributing to the country’s continued growth and potential.
Contemplating a move to live and work in Qatar requires a comprehensive grasp of its work dynamics, regulations, and cultural intricacies. As a rapidly growing Gulf nation, Qatar has emerged as a prime destination for expatriates seeking both career opportunities and a high quality of life. Recognized as the world’s safest country for two consecutive years and boasting tax-free income benefits, Qatar stands out as an attractive prospect. Understanding cultural norms, language proficiency, and navigating the intricacies of work permits are vital for a successful transition.
With a dynamic work environment characterized by a unique workweek and growing economic prospects, Qatar presents an enticing blend of professional and personal growth opportunities. While employers actively invest in their workforce, there’s potential for further enhancements in employee satisfaction, contributing to Qatar’s ongoing development and potential.