So you’re moving to Qatar. In this article I’m going to share 11 useful tips for living in Qatar. These are all really useful things I’ve learned from my experiences here in Qatar, and also some recommendations from our friends here.
If you’re someone who prefers videos, I have shared these tips for living in Qatar over on our YouTube channel. You can watch it here.
You will quickly find out that everyone communicates through WhatsApp in Qatar. Businesses usually require enquires be sent to their WhatsApp numbers. Restaurants promote a WhatsApp number for food to be delivered. Also if you’ve organised a delivery of something you’ll likely need to share your location which is super easy to do through WhatsApp. So before you even arrive to Qatar, you’ll want to get WhatsApp. It’s free to use and once here you can easily switch your number over.
2. 2 for 1 Deals
MyBook Qatar and The Entertainer App are a great way to save some money on a whole range of things. I’ve mentioned these apps in many of our videos before and explained we used them to get 2 for 1 stays at many resorts around Qatar. Our family is use to travelling around SE Asia which is super affordable, but honestly, staying at hotels and resorts in Qatar is super expensive in comparison. So getting a 2 for 1 stay is a great way to make it a little more affordable. These apps also have great deals for eating out, retail, entertainment and more.
Bonus tip. If you have a Mastercard with Commercial Bank you’ll gain free access to MyBook Qatar.
Q-Tips is a great series full of cultural tips and advice for living in Qatar. Most videos are hosted by popular Qatari Khalifa Al Haroon. But there are also video from The Qatari Guy Hamad al Amari and Aisha Al-Zaimi on the channel. Khalifa and Hamad are quite funny with how they deliver their videos. And the videos from Aisha provide a valuable female perspective on certain topics in Qatar. These videos are short and sweet and usually only go for a couple of minutes. You can watch the series here.
4. Join Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are a great resource here in Qatar. The When, Where & How in Doha group is probably the best group for getting advice on all things in Qatar. It’s a fantastic community full of people who’ve been living in Qatar for years. You can ask anything there and someone will always reply. I quite like to use the search function because it’s likely someone has asked your question already.
You might also want to find Facebook groups for the particular hobbies and interest you may have. For example, if you love camping you’ll want to join the Camping in Qatar group. There are lots of camping enthusiasts with tips on the best places to camp around Qatar. There’s probably a Facebook group out there for your hobby.
Choose your bank wisely and check what offers they have when signing up. We went with Commercial Bank Qatar because they offered quite a few benefits at the time.
First of all, Commercial Bank had their own Entertainer App with loads of special deals.
One of the best perks was that we were given a Diners Club card which gives us free access to airport lounges around the world. Because of the pandemic we haven’t really been able to take advantage of this, but we did enjoy our first airport lounge experience in Muscat before the pandemic.
Like most credit cards they also have a rewards system where you accumulate points for all your purchases. Just make sure you pay off your balance everyone month so you don’t pay any interest. Banking with Commercial Bank hasn’t cost us a thing so we’re really happy with them. But be sure to do your own research when you get here as I’m sure offers will change over time, from bank to bank.
6. Subscribe to The World n Us
Yes that’s our YouTube channel. Of course I’d love for you to subscribe if you haven’t already. I’ve shared quite a few videos full of advice, tips and our family’s experiences in Qatar, and we plan to share a lot more while living in Qatar. I’m also very responsive in the comments on YouTube if you have any questions about Qatar.
Here is a playlist with all our Qatar videos.
7. Public Transport
When we first arrived we rented a car for the first 3 months. We were pretty happy with it but we had to stop renting because our Australian licence was no longer valid once we got our residency permits. Because there was a waiting period to get our Qatari licences we were forced to use the public transport, and to be honest we actually really liked it. Qatar has an incredible train system which is cheap! It only costs 2 rials per ride with a maximum of 6 rials per day. You’ve also got Uber which we’ve found quite affordable and reliable. What we also like is that we didn’t have the stress of driving on the roads and for us it actually worked out to be much cheaper than renting a car.
8. Buy a Car
Yes I know. This contradicts my last tip. But if you can afford it, you’re going to eventually want a car. Qatar is a small country, but there is still so much to explore. Using public transport to see all the different corners of the country just isn’t going to work. We’ve had a car for a while now and a few places we have visited thanks to having a car include Zubara Fort, The East/West West East monument in Zeekreet.
Camping has also become one of our favourite things to do as a family. We have camped a number of times around the country including the Inland Sea and also done trips to many of the remote beaches dotted all around Qatari coastline.
There is still so much more we want to see. If you’re interested to see what there is to do outside of Doha, I’ve actually shared a video with 11 things to see outside of Doha. Make sure you check it out.
Forget about Google Maps. If you’re navigating around Qatar you’re going to use Waze. We learned the hard way. Our first trip out to IKEA we used google maps which we eventually realised is not up to date. We ended up so far off track because google maps would recalculate the trip and where it would tell us to turn there was no road. It was a disaster and we ended up adding about 45 minutes to that trip. I believe Waze is updated in real time and tracks how all users of the app are travelling to calculate the best route. It also put you on roads that actually exist which is super helpful.
With the FIFA World Cup happening in 2022, there is so much development in Qatar and new roads are opening up all the time. Waze makes driving around Qatar so much easier and I couldn’t imagine trying to navigate my way around the country any other way.
10. Follow Businesses on Social Media
It’s sometimes hard to find out what’s happening and when special offers are on because there isn’t really much advertising in Qatar. So if you’ve got an interest in a particular place you should follow them on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date with their latest offers and upcoming events.
11. Get a VPN
If you’ll like to keep in touch with friends and family overseas, make sure you get a VPN so you can make free calls using WhatsApp or Skype. You’ll also need it if you’d like to access content or apps from your home country that may be restricted to that country. I do have a full article explaining more about the benefits of a VPN. Check it out here.
I hope you found this article helpful and all the best with your move to Qatar. If you have any questions you can put them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.