Qatar at a Glance
Living in Qatar
Most expats living in Qatar settle in Doha, the country’s capital and its most important financial center. Aside from Doha, other cities, such as Mesaieed, Dukhan or Ras Laffan Industrial City, host production and trade facilities for the petrochemical industry. The latter offers many job opportunities and is thus one of the main destinations for expats in Qatar.
All in all, the country is divided into seven baladiyat (municipalities). Here, traditional life in Qatar coexists with a globalized economy and modern architecture. While Qatar’s government invests in up-to-date technologies, it also encourages its people to maintain their cultural heritage. Souq Waqif, for instance, is one of the places which best represents a more traditional sort of life. Although renovated in 2004, this souq still showcases typical Qatari architecture, shops, and restaurants.
You may be surprised to find out that formal education wasn’t introduced until the 1950s. Since then, the education system has improved significantly, offering public education throughout the country. However, just like life in Qatar in general, education in particular is based on the country’s Islamic roots. This is reflected in the strict gender segregation in public schools and universities.
The education system is controlled by two different entities: the Ministry of Education and the Supreme Education Council. The Supreme Education Council is slowly taking over the Ministry of Education schools, turning them into independent institutions. It has also begun to introduce reforms and develop new curricula and educational programs to help students keep up with the challenges of a globalized economy.
Expat children tend to attend private international schools in Qatar. Most of them were established only recently and are located in Doha. Independent schools welcome the children of expats as well.
Private schools are only free of charge for nationals living in Qatar and those eligible for public education. Currently, there are 137 independent schools and kindergartens, which offer curricula in Arabic and English. The list of schools provided by the Supreme Education Council can help expats living in Qatar to find schools for their children within their district.
Higher Education in Qatar
Qatar University is located at the northeastern outskirts of Doha. Its campus is divided into sections for male and female students. Each has its own lecture halls, labs and other facilities. Established in 1973, the university offers a wide range of academic programs, mainly undergraduate degrees.
Six American universities also have campuses in Qatar, offering different educational programs to Qataris and expats living in Qatar. These (often co-ed) campuses are located in Education City proper.