Looking after the dough in Doha!
It’s likely to be one of the most exciting times in your life, moving to Qatar, the richest country in the world. But, as the initial excitement begins to subside, more pressing thoughts may begin to dominate. Thoughts about everyday living – schools for the children, the language barrier, shopping, entertainment and, of course, money.
Setting up home in a foreign land thousands of miles away doesn’t suddenly make you good with money. Far from it. If the hard-earned dosh don’t last in London, looking after the dough in Doha is likely to prove equally problematical. You won’t be able to run to family and friends to bail you out until the end of the month! Ensuring your finances are on a sound footing before you up and go is a vital part of the planning process.
Qatar, the richest country in the world
Yes it is. Its GDP growth over recent years has been meteoric to say the least, built on the back of the country’s enormous oil wealth. Yet, just before the start of the Second World War, the economy was reduced to a basket-case level following the collapse of its pearl hunting and fishing industry. But everything changed with the discovery of oil in 1940. Since 2005, Qatar’s economy has nearly tripled in size, growing by almost 19% in real terms in 2011, and forecast to grow yet further this year by some 6%.
A string of billion-dollar infrastructure projects are certain to push growth even higher as the country prepares to host the 2022 World Cup. The projects include Doha’s new $5.5bn deep-sea port, a new $17.5bn airport for the capital, scheduled to open next year, and various road projects worth in the region of $20bn. Work is also about to begin on the $36bn Doha Metro system which aims to link stadiums involved in the World Cup.
Banks in Qatar are as sophisticated as their Western counterparts, with both national and international banks well represented throughout the country. The Qatari banking system is secure and well regulated and offers a wide range of in-branch retail banking services, including savings and current accounts, as well as online and telephone banking.
The number of ATMs is growing rapidly so there should be little difficulty accessing cash. These cash machines accept debit and major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard. However, credit and debit card use is still not as popular as cash when paying for everyday items.
Buying a home
If you’ve the salary to support it, why not consider buying a home in Qatar? It’s certainly encouraged although limited by the government to certain areas. You’ll need documentation to support any mortgage application such as a residency permit, proof of income, a property valuation report, building insurance and a copy of the title deed.
Schools in Qatar
Qatar has a first-class educational system and has invested heavily in its primary and secondary schools. Education is mainly subsidised by the government with scholarships available for both expatriates and nationals alike. Doha, in particular, is well served by a good choice of international and private schools offering a high standard of education to all levels.
You want modern air-conditioned malls with top international stores at every turn? You got it. How about shopping the old-fashioned way, in the souqs and markets in the centre of Doha, where bargaining is a way of life. You got that, too. Shopping in Qatar really is a whole new experience. So enjoy!