I did say before that when I was first told about this job, I had to go straight to Google maps to find out where Qatar was located. Mind you, this was a few years ago, well before the 2022 World Cup bid was announced. I did plenty of research (scouring Wikipedia) on Qatar before moving out here, and if you are considering a move abroad, I would suggest you do the same, but if you get a chance to actually visit where you may be working, even better. I was lucky enough to travel to Qatar a couple of times (for work purposes) before moving out here, so the transition was made just that little bit easier.
Qatar is a tiny little thumb of a nation that sticks out from the Arabia Peninsula into the Persian Gulf. Contrary to what most people think, Qatar is not part of the United Arab Emirates but it is its own emirate, a political territory ruled by a dynastic Muslim Monarch or emir. The current emir of Qatar is His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, a member of the Al-Thani dynasty and a descendent of Muhammad bin Thani who founded the state of Qatar in 1868. Qatar is located between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates and it shares a border with Saudi Arabia. The capital and largest city is Doha.
In 2010, the Qatar Statistics Authority estimated the total population of Qatar to be approximately 1.7 million, a third of which are thought to be Qatari nationals while the remaining are expatriates and migrant workers. Expatriates mainly come from other Arab nations, the USA and Europe while the migrant work force hails from mostly the Indian sub-continent and Far-East. Arabic is the official language of Qatar but English is widely spoken, along with Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Tagalog. Due to these foreign workers, who are mainly male, the male:female ratio in Qatar is roughly 3:1.
Qatar is 4,416 sq miles in area, slightly smaller than the American state of Connecticut (where I’m from!). The dominant religion is Islam and the currency is the Qatari Riyal (QAR). Qatar is 3 hours ahead of GMT or 8 hours ahead of EST however, this changes with the seasons as summer time (moving the clocks forward) is not observed in Qatar. Most commonly, the working day is 7am-3pm with Friday and Saturday being the ‘weekend’. The average high temperature in January is 22°C (72°F) while the average high in August is 41°C (106°F).
The Al Khalifa family of Bahrain dominated the area until 1868 when, at the request of Qatari nobles, the British negotiated the termination of the Bahraini claim. The British were particularly interested in Qatar because of its strategic position en route to their colonial interests in India, and the state of Qatar was officially recognised on December 18, 1878, although it did not gain official standing as a British protectorate until 1916.
Up until this point, Qatar was mainly a poor nomadic nation with most inhabitants eeking out a living from either pearl diving or fishing however, this all changed with the discovery, in 1940, of high-quality oil at Dukhan, on the western side of the Qatari peninsula. The onset of World War II delayed exploitation of Qatar’s oil resources and oil exports did not begin until 1949. Qatar’s future wealth was secured by the 1971 discovery of an offshore gas field, the same year that it became an independent sovereign state.
Qatar has oil reserves of 15 billion barrels, while gas reserves, almost as large as the peninsula itself, are estimated to be between 80 trillion cubic feet to 800 trillion cubic feet (1 trillion cubic feet is equivalent to about 80 million barrels of oil); at the current production pace, oil reserves are expected to last more than 40 years. Qatar shares with Iran the largest single non-associated gas field in the world, the North Field, and Qatar is now the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Oil and gas production and revenues have seen Qatar move from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest as the International Monetary Fund ranks it at number 1 for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the World FactBook ranks it as second. With no income tax, Qatar, along with Bahrain, is one of the countries with the lowest tax rates in the world.
Qatar also has the highest, per capita carbon emissions in the world.