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Moving to Ar Rayyan

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What you need to keep in mind when relocating to Ar Rayyan…

Schools

The education system has improved significantly since the 1950’s. However, just like the rest of life in Ar Rayyan in general, education in particular is based on the country’s Islamic roots. This is reflected in the strict gender segregation in public schools and universities.
Expat children often attend private international schools in Ar R. Most of them have only established recently and many of them are located in Doha. Independent schools welcome the children of expats as well. Currently, there are some137 independent schools and kindergartens in Qatar, which offer a curricula in both Arabic and English.
Schools in Ar Rayyan

  • Qatar Foundation, Al Huqoul St
  • Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar,
  • Sherborne Qatar School
  • Qatar Academy Primary School
  • The Learning Centre
  • Al-Rayyan Al-Jadeed Independent Secondary School For Girls
  • Gulf English School

Housing

Expat accommodation in Ar Rayyan ranges from individual villas to sprawling expat compounds, and even apartments. Given the expansion of the country and new arriving immigrants to Ar Rayyan every year, it is often difficult to find accommodation at good prices. Fortunately there are several possibilities for expatriates;
Accommodation in "compounds"
Located in closed and secured neighbourhoods, compounds are groups of individual or terraced houses with facilities like pools, gyms etc. The expatriate community find accommodation in compounds very popular.
Accommodation in individual houses
You may well rent an individual house located outside "compounds". Houses are often larger outside compounds and often have a garden or a yard. Individual houses availability is limited.
Apartments:
Given the urban development, many big flats have been built in Qatar. Apartments are available for rent, furnished or unfurnished, but they all have basic amenities and air conditioning.
Where to look for accommodation in Qatar?
Companies in Qatar often call upon the services of professional relocation agencies to find accommodation for their expatriate employees. If you haven’t got the services of a relocation agency, you can find accommodation to rent directly from owners or through estate agencies. You can also ask your employer, your colleagues or your HR representative.
And prices?
Accommodation prices vary a lot in Qatar. For your information, a 3 or 4 rooms apartment/house can easily cost around QAR 10,000 to 20,000 (Qatar Riyals) per month depending on the location. 

Jobs

Most expats relocating from the West find that working in Ar Rayyan involves a surprisingly smooth transition. According to the Qatari Information Exchange (QALM), foreigners make up over 90% of the emirate’s working population in 2012. As a result, English has actually replaced Arabic as the standard language of business, so many office environments can feel eerily familiar despite their distance from home.
The standard work week in Qatar runs from Sunday to Thursday but work hours will vary depending on your employer.
Banks, schools and government agencies often prefer beginning and ending the day early, running from 7.30am to 3.30pm. Shops and trading companies may opt for dividing their day between 8am to 1pm, and 4pm to 7pm. On the other hand, corporations and small-business owners may enforce a more standardised work day from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Changing jobs in Qatar
One of the downsides to working in the Ar Rayyan is the fact that expats haven’t got a lot of options when it comes to changing jobs. Contracts in Qatar are often open-ended with clauses written in banning employees from starting a new job without leaving the country first for six months.

Bank Accounts

Both national and international banks can be found in Ar Rayyan. Some banks provide very western services like drive-in banking, and mobile banking for customers who live in outlying areas. Large companies often have banks located on-premises, as do a number of government departments. Retail banking services available in Ar Rayyan include branch banking, online and telephone banking. The use of credit, debit and cash cards is widespread, but cash remains a popular form of payment for everyday transactions. Bank statements and official banking correspondence can be provided either in Arabic or English, and many of the banks in Ar Rayyan provide counter services in both languages. There are three main types of bank account in Qatar used for everyday banking and savings;

Opening a bank account with one of the main banks is a relatively simple process. You will need:

  • A reference letter from your employer, stating your salary and their approval for you to open an account. In some instances, opening an account with your employer’s bank can make the application process simpler.
  • Passport (plus copies).
  • Residency permit (if applicable).

Visas

To work in Ar Rayyan, it is essential to be in possession of a valid residence permit and a work visa. Administrative procedures to get legal authorizations to live and work in Qatar can be complex. First, you’ll have to find a "sponsor", a local employer wishing to hire you. The sponsor starts the work visa application by requesting to the Ministry of Interior of Qatar for the legal authorizations to hire a foreign worker. The sponsor has a particular role to play since he must vouch for you whether when you open a bank account or when you sign a rental lease in the country.
When you have a job your new employer will apply for a NOC certificate for you and this will then be stamped onto your passport before entering Doha Airport. You need to have this before you can enter the country. Once this is done you then need to apply for a residence Visa and this normally takes two to six weeks and if you have to leave the country during this period you will have to start all over again.
People with a work visa can bring their families with them. They must sponsor residence permits for their family members under 25 years old. Recently it has become possible for women to sponsor residence permits for their husbands. The residence permit does not allow employment in Qatar. If dependants wish to work in Qatar, they must in turn find a sponsor and undertake the administrative procedures for obtaining a work permit.
If a foreign worker has to leave Ar Rayyan temporarily, an exit visa is needed. The exit visa does not apply for dependants.

Cost of Living

As with living in any other country, the major monthly expense is the cost of your accommodation. Similarly the price of your rent will be decided by the type of property and its location.
The cost of petrol in Qatar is cheap – just one QAR per litre – which adds to the intense love affair people have with their cars. It may also explain the country’s nearly non-existent public transport system.
Medical insurance
Health insurance is normally organised by employers, the healthcare standard in Ar Rayyan is good. If health insurance is not included in your payment package, highly subsidised health and dental care with Hamad Medical Corporation can be accessed with the purchase of a Hamad Card (100 QAR).
Eating out
Good value, though of course it depends where you eat. For example you can eat your in an cheap Indian restaurant, or spend 200 in a hotel restaurant. There are a lot of different restaurants in Ar Rayyan that vary in food and prices.
Cars
You’ll need about 15,000 riyals for an average car. (If you are brave you could get a bargain in the auctions), but maintenance, fuel and insurance are all cheap.
Other transport
Buses cost 2 riyals for journeys inside the city and 7 for journeys outside. Taxis start at 3 riyals and charge a further 1 riyal per kilometre – but their booking service is hopeless, which is why people often use limos.

Medical Care

Qatar’s healthcare services are internationally recognized and are of a high standard, when compared to other developed countries. The healthcare system is available to everyone, and it provides the most advanced medical equipment and highly qualified staff through a countrywide network of hospitals and healthcare centres, including Ar Rayyan.
National Health Strategy
The National Health Strategy 2011-2016 (NHS) is a comprehensive program of reforms, aligned to the Qatar National Vision 2030 that will advance Qatar’s Healthcare Vision of creating a world-class, patient-centred healthcare system.
The Supreme Council of Health itself does not provide direct healthcare services; this is the responsibility of public health care providers, such as the Hamad Medical Corporation and other private healthcare providers.
Since its establishment, the Hamad Medical Corporation has become Qatar's leading non-profit healthcare provider, offering its patients a nationwide network of Primary Health Care Centres and highly specialized hospitals.
Private medical service facilities
Besides Hamad Medical Corporation as a non-profit healthcare provider, there are also a number of private medical service facilities that provide healthcare to the public. Private practices and clinics provide a full scope of medical services, from specialist consultations, through dentistry, rehabilitation, home nursing care or hospital procedures and surgeries.

Driving Licences

Currently, anyone who holds either a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE) licence, or a licence from one of the following countries, is permitted to obtain a full Qatar driving licence without having to pass a test: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA and Vatican City.
Drivers who do not hold a licence from one of these countries, or who have no licence at all, are required to take a driving test.

Where to apply for a licence
To get a licence, either temporary or permanent, go to the Madinat Khalifa Traffic Department. From 07:00 to 11:00 and 16:00 to 19:00 the offices are open.
The process
To obtain a full driving licence, the following documents must be presented at the Madinat Khalifa Traffic Department:

  • Original licence from one of the countries listed above
  • A letter of no objection/permission from the sponsor, written in Arabic
  • A copy of the trade licence of the sponsoring company
  • A copy of the sponsor’s ID
  • Passport (original and copies)
  • Three passport photos
  • Qatar ID card

You’ll have to fill out an application form, which must be typed in Arabic and signed by your sponsor. Translation typing services are cheap and you can find them everywhere in Qatar. The form can be downloaded in advance, but needs to be filled out at the Traffic Department. It is also necessary to pass an eye test, which can be done on site. A fee must also be paid by card. This includes the cost of the eye test. On the next working day you should be able to collect it, and it is valid for five years. The vehicle entitlement will be the same as for your original licence, but you’ll have to get a separate licence if you want to drive HGVs and buses.

Tax

The very low rate of tax in Ar Rayyan is one of the major attractions of moving there, but there are still some tax charges and issues for expatriates to be aware of. Whilst life in Ar Rayyan is largely tax-free. Foreigners that live and work in Qatar have to pay very little tax to the country's government. Only if a foreigner operates a business in Qatar do they need to pay any form of income tax.
There isn’t any road tax, car tax, television licence fee, council tax, income tax or VAT in Qatar, but there have been rumours that in recent years that VAT at five to seven percent may be introduced at some point in the future. But the rumours haven’t been confirmed.
Import Tax
An import tax is levied on all the products brought into the country that are going to be resold commercially; about four to five percent of the value of the goods is the cost that you will have to pay on tax.
Buying a new car from overseas is likely to be subject to the four to five percent import tax - but importing a previously purchased car may not.
Service Tax
There is a seven percent government tax on food and drink purchased in hotels. Previously hotels would add a ten percent service charge to the bills as well, but there have been moves from the government during 2011 to stop hotels adding this fee to restaurant tariffs.
Corporate Tax
Corporate Tax of ten percent is levied on all profits made by businesses owned, or partly owned, by foreigners in Ar Rayyan.

Useful links

Expat Woman in Qatar
Expat Arrivals Qatar
Banking in Qatar
How to get a working visa in Qatar
Healthcare in Qatar
Qatar taxes