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Why I moved to Qatar: A Snapshot of Life and Work in Doha, Qatar

If you are considering making the move to Qatar for a job in the construction industry in 2012 or early 2013 let me give you a professional and personal overview of the attractions including why I made the move to Qatar and am enjoying every moment of it.

Why I moved to Qatar and the challenges we were expecting to face
I moved to Qatar from the UK at the end of May 2012 with my husband who successfully secured a job as a Senior Quantity Surveyor with a major cost consultancy in Qatar. He moved there to settle into his QS job one month before our two very young children (1 and 3 years of age) and I arrived.  The attraction of a booming Qatari construction market compared to the flat UK construction market was too much of an opportunity to ignore.  However, we were also worried about certain issues relating to finding accommodation, schooling provision & the hot weather  in Qatar.

Working in Qatar
Working in Doha has been extremely exciting for my husband and incredibly rewarding to date. People in Qatar and in the construction industry here have been very welcoming and helpful to us. Our general sense is that people are excited to be working in Qatar because of the sheer volume and size of projects underway already or that are confirmed to be starting imminently.  Some of the contractors have been disappointed by the lack of project activity in Qatar since it won the right to host the football World Cup in December 2010, but the end of 2012 and 2013  is expected to be the real start of a major construction boom, which will provide opportunities for consultants, contractors and thousands of expatriate construction job seekers. Many people are telling me that in the next 3-6 months Doha, the capital of Qatar,  will be ‘booming’ and I’m very sure it will be.

Qatar Construction Projects
Qatar has announced that it will spend tens of billions of US dollars on hundreds of new projects to prepare for World Cup 2022. Total budget is expected to exceed US$ 120bn. The games will take place in seven host cities all within a 25km radius and more than US$ 5bn is expected to be allocated to the building of nine new stadiums, in addition to the existing three ones that need major renovation.  Let’s take a look at the wide variety of Qatar construction projects that are now in the pipeline:

Doha Metro
The construction of the 75•4 km Phase 1a of the Doha Metro network is scheduled to begin on site in early 2013 for completion by October 2019 and opening in 2020. Phase 1a includes the Red, Green and Gold metro lines serving Doha the most densely-populated area of the country and the future site of stadia for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The project, which will comprise four lines and run 358 kilometres in total, is the most crucial as it will have 100 stations, of which 12 will serve World Cup stadiums.

Education City
Education City – which covers 14,000,000 square meters of space and houses a range of educational and research facilities.  It provides education to students of all ages and contains branch campuses of some of the world’s leading universities.  At the heart of this educational hub are seven world-class universities. Expansion of this project will be on going with the National Library project just being awarded and with a completion date in 2014.

Qatar New Roads
More than $20bn has been earmarked to expand the current road network over the next five years. In addition to Qatar-Bahrain Causeway there has been some news about a possible bridge between Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Major projects include the $687m Lusail Expressway, the Doha Expressway, Dukhan Freeway and Doha Bay Crossing.

Residential Developments
The plan is to build 24 venue-specific team hotels. Qatar Government has announced that it will increase the country’s hotel room capacity to 80,000 and this tops the 60,000 capacity demanded by FIFA. Some construction reports mention that there are 100 existing properties, with a further 130 to be built, all but 13 of which will be built after 2016. They will all be located within 20 kilometers of the stadiums.

Of course the above summary is just a snapshot of the projects planned in Qatar I think you will agree it’s certainly the place to be if you are looking for an exciting challenge and to advance your career by working on some big or mega construction projects.

What About the Negatives?
Many people warned us about the problems relating to accommodation, schooling and the weather in Qatar.  Well this is our experience of them:

Accommodation in Qatar
Finding suitable accommodation is always a potential area of concern when relocating.  For us, getting sorted out was very easy as we employed a ‘real estate’ agent who was very helpful.  He managed to find us a great villa very easily and we now live in a compound in Doha with a great swimming pool which my children absolutely love. That said, quite a lot of quantity surveying and construction contracting companies in Qatar already have accommodation secured so you might not even need this service or have this worry at all.

Schooling & Childcare in Qatar
We found that the most difficult part about moving to Qatar for a construction job was the apparent lack of school and nursery places.  However we investigated this before relocating, and found that it can all be arranged from the UK in advance by registering your children at one or more places.  Once you arrive in Qatar you can then check the place out upon arrival.
We found all the schools and kindergartens to be of an excellent standard in terms of both staff and facilities – probably better than most that could be found in the UK.

The Weather in Qatar
One major worry of mine when considering the family move to Qatar was the weather and my children not being able to cope with the heat. I will admit it can get very hot here but you do get used to it. My children acclimatised a lot quicker than me and of course the country and its facilities are all set up for the climate so the worry quickly disappeared.

Plan, Decide and Execute the Qatar Adventure!
From my experience of Qatar to date, my advice to any construction professional and their family thinking about making the move to Qatar would be to:
1. Join the right employer & construction project (Maxim can help with this of course!)
2. Do your research on accommodation, schooling & weather
3. Make a considered decision if it’s for you & then give it a whirl!
4. You will discover a new life with a range of opportunities, both professional and personal

And by the way, did I mention that Qatar is tax free?

Rhiannon Penny

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