Qatar – Doha

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					Qatar – Doha
Country Overview
The peninsula of Qatar projects into the Arabian Gulf and is bounded on the landward
side by Saudi Arabia. It is about 100 miles long and 40 miles wide, and consists
largely of stony desert with a few oases and areas of sand dunes. The population of
Qatar is 625,000, in an area of 11,435 km2. Three quarters of the population lives in
the capital, Doha, including some 4,000 British expatriates. Overall, some 60% of the
population of Qatar are expatriates (mostly from the Indian sub-continent). Although
it is a conservative Islamic state, it is not excessively restrictive and most expatriates
settle down quickly to life in Doha and enjoy their time in the country. Job prospects
for accompanying spouses are generally good and there is a good selection of
expatriate schools, including British system primary and secondary schools.

City Overview
Doha is a fast developing city, development which this year is accelerated in order to
prepare for the Asian Games to be hosted in December. Building sites and road works
abound, and journeys for the time being are taking longer than usual. The city centre,
however, retains a certain charm, and many of the post-war buildings have been
demolished and replaced with souqs and arcades.

Local restrictions on employment
Getting residence can be a long procedure. If a teacher is recruited in time, a 'no
objection' letter can be obtained, and the teacher will enter Qatar with that. If there is
not enough time, the teacher will enter on a visit visa, and will have to leave Doha and
re-enter once the letter has been obtained. Either way, once the no objection has been
dealt with, there is a medical (including HIV test), a fingerprinting session, and then
the papers are submitted. One or two months would be a normal length for the whole
procedure. Non-British spouses will usually have to wait for their spouse's residence
permit to be issued before they enter the country. This can take up to six weeks.

Teaching centre
The Centre moved into its current premises in December 1995 and has 12 classrooms
and a computer room. The front office space has recently been re-organised and
includes a children's library, ELT and exams resources for adults, as well as Teaching
Centre, Examinations and UK Education information outlets. All classrooms have
audio equipment, video player and an IWB. The teachers room has recently been
relocated giving more working space and resources. There is a large (though, for
security reasons, unused) car park in front of the building, and a covered one at the
back for staff use. Most teaching and training takes place in the afternoons and
evenings, between 3.30pm and 10.10 pm from Sunday to Thursday. There are
occasional off-site courses. In Ramadan evening classes are normally rescheduled to
run from 7.00 to 11.00 pm over that month. The Centre has a full-time Registrar, two
Assistant Registrars and a messenger; other staff share their time between the
Teaching Centre and other Council functions: There are currently 5 full-time teachers,
and up to 15 hourly paid teachers. Young learners, which constitute a considerable
part of Teaching Centre activity are 80% Qatari, the remainder being mostly from
other Middle-Eastern countries. Adults are more varied: 30% Qatari, 50% from other
Middle-Eastern states and 20% from elsewhere (largely Europe and the Far East).
Junior classes are co-educational, Senior classes may be single sex or co-ed, most
adult classes are single sex. Most teaching is at Elementary to Intermediate levels,
with a few advanced or Cambridge examination classes.
Accommodation
For externally recruited teachers 5,500 QRs pcm unaccountable (single) 6,000 QRs
pcm unaccountable for staff with accompanying partner and/or children Rents have
recently risen considerably and the above allowances are some 50% more than
previously. Accommodation isn't particularly easy to find but the Council supports
seekers in terms of time and transport, and provides hotel accommodation for a
reasonable period until permanent accommodation is found. Unfurnished
accommodation is cheaper than furnished, but furnishing is expensive. The Council
can provide interest-free loans for this purpose. There is a refundable deposit of
QR2,000 to be paid for electricity and water supplies. The Council acts as guarantor
for teacher’s telephone lines, asking teachers to provide proof of settlement of
telephone bill before leaving.

General living costs and conditions
Utilities are reliable and cheap. Net2phone PC to phone services are the cheapest way
of dialling internationally. Western goods, though widely available are more
expensive than in the UK. Local and regional goods are generally very reasonably
priced. Normally, FT staff can save a reasonable amount of money over a two year
period - especially as they receive a gratuity at the end of their contract under local
labour law. However, setting up costs can be expensive. The Council provides a 6000
QR non-accountable settling in allowance to help with this - and interest free loans are
available if needed.

Transport and communications
Local taxis are cheap but availability depends on location. Most expatriates find a car
essential, and second-hand cars are readily available and inexpensive. Currently all
full timers drive their own cars (but not the Deputy Director). Usually, expect to pay
in the region of QR 18,000-25,000 for a reasonable second hand saloon car. 4WDs
can be much more. Petrol is, of course, very cheap indeed. Arabic is the official
language of Qatar. While knowledge of Arabic is useful, shop assistants, taxi drivers
etc are usually from the Indian sub-continent, and English is the lingua franca of
Qatar. International calls are easy to make and Internet/ e-mail access is readily
available. Mobile phones are common and local telephone calls are cheap. Local
landline to landline calls are free.

General health, medical and dental care
All UK appointed staff on globally mobile contracts, and accompanying family
members, are covered by Council's Group Medical Insurance. The scheme is
administered by Expacare and covers medical and hospital treatment, repatriation
costs, personal liability and other items. Routine dental and optical treatment are NOT
included in the policy. Excess to be paid by the Council; full costs to be reimbursed
less NHS prescription charge. Chemists are well stocked. Although not covered under
the insurance scheme, dental services are available but can be expensive.

Any other information
Entertainment mostly consists of private parties and club activities. There are a
number of clubs in Doha with excellent sports facilities (cost c. QR 5-600 p.a.). Some
of these clubs are for family membership only, but there are gyms etc for singles.
There are also desert trips in the winter and some local attractions, such as the
museum, waterfront, fort, souq, zoo, children’s theme park, beaches, two annual
international tennis tournaments, an international golf championship and an annual
cultural festival in March. Many expatriates take up activities such as sailing,
windsurfing, or diving, generally taking advantage of the sea. Doha has a long and
very attractive Corniche). There is a fairly wide variety of restaurants, Lebanese,
Chinese, Indian, Thai etc. There are also cafes in which to enjoy a water pipe.
Shopping is easy. There are a number of good supermarkets and shopping centres and
all household needs are catered for. The souq area is much more modern than other
Middle Eastern countries such as Syria or Egypt, and the feel is more Indian than
Near Eastern. The import and public consumption of alcohol is forbidden, but the
large hotels have discreet licensed bars or restaurants and there is a licensing system
that allows each family to purchase QR1000 worth of alcoholic drinks each month.
One can join the Rugby Club, where there is a good standard of rugby on display, and
perhaps the cheapest bar in town. Regular (monthly) quizzes, too. Pork products are
forbidden. TV is piped into homes on cable but this service can be expensive. The
Council library includes a video and DVD section and English films are widely
available for rent. There are four multiscreen cinemas, all of which show English
language films.

				
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