Moving to Doha

What Qatar may lack in size, it makes up for with diversity. Expats moving to Doha, the peninsula's capital city of over 2.5 million residents, will find an emerging metropolis filled with people from every corner of the world. The multi-ethnic makeup of the city's population is reflected in both the social and professional spheres, and more than anything else, expats should be prepared to make allowances for the different ways in which people do things.

One of the first things expats notice in Doha is the towering cranes rising in the background of most neighbourhoods, a clear sign of the city's race towards expansion and growth. In that vein, the ratio of Qataris to internationals is incredibly skewed, with expats commanding an overwhelming majority. This often means that, while it is relatively easy to make friends at work or in the neighbourhood (the compound), the local community often stays away from the transient foreign population. However, those who stay longer than the three-year average will find that the Qatari nationals are hospitable and companionable, and more open to cultivating friendships.

Expats living in Doha generally reside in housing provided by their employers, either in high-rise apartment buildings or in family-sized villas in walled neighbourhoods. The standard of living among both local and expat professionals is high, but so is the cost of living. New arrivals should be sure to negotiate an adequate salary package to cover all components of life in the emirate.

From tennis to the cinema, the recreation and entertainment options available in most other metropolitan cities are available, though some expats may feel slightly limited by the number of outlets offering specific services.

One of the largest challenges expats living in Doha face is adapting to the extreme heat. Temperatures are high, rising above 104°F (40°C) between the summer months of June and August, and it's no coincidence that most annual vacations are between 30 to 45 days long and scheduled for this time period. A key to summer survival is to plan getaways whenever possible. Expats should note, however, that air conditioning is available in most offices, restaurants and other facilities, and they'll quickly realise that it's often necessary to bring a shawl or coat along, even amid the sweltering weather.

That said, from October to May the climate is moderate and perfect for dining al fresco or playing several rounds of golf. In the winter, people are often surprised by the low temperatures and the lack of central heating. This absence means that space heaters are in high demand.

Mohana Rajakumar Our Expat Expert

Mohana Rajakumar is a writer and educator who has lived in Qatar since 2005. A scholar of literature, she has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her work has been published in AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer.

She is the creator and co-editor of five books in the Qatar Narratives series, as well as the Qatari Voices anthology, which features essays by Qataries on modern life in Doha (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010).

Additionally, she's written a course for the Global Coach Center and lead the corresponding teleclass on "Living and Working in Qatar".

Catch up on her latest via her blog or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.