Visas and Migration
Before applying for a work visa, expatriates must first secure a job in Qatar. Once secured, an initial visa request must be submitted, after which the employer is responsible for furthering the application by applying for a business entry visa from the Ministry of the Interior. Your employer may require additional notarised documentation and will communicate any requests with you prior to your move. This step of the process can take around six to eight weeks.
Residency permits can be applied for once you are in Qatar. You will be expected to provide a number of documents from home, including documentation confirming your qualifications, a minimum of two passport photographs, police clearance and proof of employment. You will also be expected to undergo a medical examination; this is usually organised by your employer.
Following your medical, you must report to the General Directorate of Civil Defence or the Civil Investigation Department for fingerprinting. This is a mandatory stage of the application process.
Once these components are complete, all your documentation will be submitted for approval, a process which can take up to six weeks to complete.
Your agency and employer will guide you on this step by step.
Driving in Qatar
Driving a car is one of the most convenient ways to travel around Qatar and allows you to explore the country in your spare time. Petrol is relatively inexpensive.
Cars can be purchased quite easily and vary in price, depending on the make and model you choose. A basic hatchback can be picked up for around 40,000 QR, whilst more luxurious cars cost upwards of 200,000 QR.
Alternatively, you can lease a car. You must be over the age of 21 and prices vary depending on your needs. It is also possible to hire a car with a private driver.
Motorbikes and bicycles are rarely seen on Qatari roads due to the extreme heat.
The road networks in Qatar have improved dramatically since 2007. However, due to the sheer number of vehicles utilising the new highway infrastructure, congestion is common, especially around the capital.
There are three major road types that cover a total of 8,000 kilometres of the peninsula; main roads, which are three-lane highways that link Doha with other larger regions; minor roads, which connect main roads with smaller areas of the country; and access roads, which are designed to ease traffic flow on the main roads.
In Qatar, you must drive on the right-hand side of the road and speed is measured in kilometres.
In order to drive in Qatar, you will require an international driving permit which is valid for six months. Once your permanent residency visa has been confirmed, you will need to apply for an official Qatari license.
Some licenses, including those from the UK and US, can be converted to a Qatari license. To convert your license, you must submit the following items:
- Temporary Driving License (TDL)
- Two passport photographs
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your resident permit
- Processing fee
Drivers from other nations must take a test to obtain a licence. The test commands a nominal fee and comprises of four parts – oral (for road traffic signs), L-parking, pocket parking and road. It is worth registering with a driving school before attempting the test.
The minimum driving age in Qatar is 18.
The rapid growth of the state’s road networks has seen the standard of public transport improve too. Regular bus routes operate around Doha while other services connect the capital to the rest of the country. Public buses are rarely used by tourists.
Mowasalat Karwa, the nation’s public transport provider, offers a Faresaver card for regular bus users. A card can be picked up for 30 QR, 20 QR of which is instantly converted into credit. The remaining 10 QR becomes credit once 300 QR has been added to the card. Journeys around Doha cost around 4 QR while travelling outside of the city costs upwards of 5 QR.
Mowasalat Karwa also operates a fleet of taxis in Qatar. All taxis are metered and charge an initial fare of 4 QR with around 2.50 QR added for every kilometre travelled.