Moving to a new country can be overwhelming and the load of new information you receive huge. In this article, I’ll present you a few important things you need to know about living in Qatar. I have also written a few useful articles [in Greek] about all the things you need to know about Doha, how life is here, the cost of living and the visa details.
It’s worth mentioning that I keep receiving a lot of emails from people willing to relocate in this Middle East country, asking information about Doha. So, here, I’m going to name a few things you need to know about living in this city, which is transformed into a world-class one.
- You need a car to move around, as public transportation is not yet developed. Good news is that many Metro stations are now ready, but not all of them. I am sure that once this is sorted out, it will be convenient for most people. But you need a car, that goes without saying. If you don’t drive, then you’ll need to use cabs; the main companies you can use are Uber and Careem. Overall and speaking from personal experience, cab driving is not safe. Selecting the basic cab ride usually comes with dirty and smelly cars, along with bad driving behavior. It’s always better to have your own car, trust me.
2. Unfortunately, driving license cannot be just converted. This was the case a few years back. Now, you need to go through driving exams again. Nevertheless, few nationalities are excluded from the new law.
3. Doha is amazingly safe. You need to worry about nothing. You can just leave your phone or laptop in the car and be sure that no one is going to steal it. Crime is 0%.
4. Alcohol tolerance is also 0%. This means, if you had just one or two beers and you’re stopped for an alcohol test, well, it’ll be bad news. So, if you want to drink (even just one beer) take a cab. Better safe than sorry!
5. Sometimes, when dealing with bureaucratic stuff, you need to be patient. Things can be slow paced. But some others are impressively quick. From my experience again, I am very happy when dealing with local banks. Everything is fast and clear. Some visa arrangements though, can take time.
6. Everything here operates until late in the evening and during the weekends. You can visit the bank on a Saturday, go to the supermarket at 11pm, use any beauty service until 10pm every day.
7. Weekends in Doha are Fridays and Saturdays. Also, due to the Friday afternoon prayer, most stores and public services are closed until 1pm.
8. During the Holy month of Ramadan, there are restrictions when it comes to eating and drinking. Muslims fast from dawn to sunset and it’s not allowed for anyone to consume food or drinks (even water) in public spaces. Also, the majority of cafes and restaurants are closed during the day. Few of them are open, you can take away things but there is no dine-in option. Restaurants and cafes situated in hotels are the exception. Moreover, you should know that during the month of Ramadan, there is absolutely no alcohol served or provided in the country.
9. Expat community is huge in Qatar and English is widely used, making it the second official language in the country. Arabic is the official one.
10. Summer in Doha is tough climate wise; too hot and humid. Starting from July to mid-October, the weather becomes unbearable. Most people leave the country for summer period and everything moves slow. But, since all indoor areas are air-conditioned, you need to have a jacket with you.
11. Life during summer is organized indoors. You will rarely see any people walking outside.
12. From November till May the weather is enjoyable; it’s like autumn-spring. So yes, you can walk outside, enjoy your coffee or meal.
13. Educational standards are good in Qatar; the country has many excellent private international schools, but fees can be high. Many companies, though, offer school allowances.
14. Doha is all about events! Various events are happening almost every day; from cycling days to museum tours. At the same time, the country is highly investing on arts, culture and education. The Qatar National Library for example, is exceptional and meets the highest standards.
15. Hamad International Airport is among the top 5 worldwide. It’s truly amazing and keeps evolving!
16. Women can drive in Qatar and expat women are not obliged to wear burqa.
These are just a few things you need to know about life in Doha. Feel free to ask me about anything I haven’t included and I’m also going to write more articles about Qatar’s capital!