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Living in Doha
A comprehensive guide about living well in Doha
Looking for information on tradition and culture in Doha? We have all that, and more: advice on education and healthcare in Qatar’s capital. Don’t worry, you certainly won’t be the only expat living in Doha! However, with our help, your assignment will be as hassle-free as possible.
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Life in Doha
While other cities, like Dukhan, Mesaieed or Ras Laffan, are important for Qatar’s petroleum industry, the people working and living in Doha make up the majority of Qatar’s population.
Life in Doha is influenced by a mixture of Arab customs and modernity. Expats can visit the souqs for spices and traditional clothing, enjoy local food and drinks in the streets, and learn something about the sport of falconry. At the same time, however, various modern malls and international hospitals offer excellent services to people living in Doha. All public buildings are air-conditioned, making life bearable during the summer’s extreme heat.
Doha is also home to the most famous Arabian news channel in the world, Al Jazeera, which began broadcasting in 1996. Today, Al Jazeera also offers its program in English to cater to the needs of expats in Doha and its viewers worldwide. The Qatari broadcasting channel now has offices in Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington, DC, amongst many others, reaching over 250 million households worldwide.
The Heart of Qatar
Living in Doha means living in a metropolis in the Arabian Gulf region, which is constantly growing and evolving. Doha is prone to rapid economic, social and political developments.
Almost all of Qatar’s hotels are located in the capital, making it the country’s number one tourist destination. Expats living in Doha often find work in the tourist sector, rent accommodation in the luxurious hotels or visit one of the many hotel restaurants. Moreover, Doha’s tourism industry and real-estate sector enjoy many investments from the government as well as from businesspeople.
When expats living in Doha leave Qatar’s capital, however, they will only find very few major hotels. Many towns within easy reach of Doha have not yet developed and may never get the chance. Instead, the city will keep growing until its outskirts reach and merge with other Qatari towns, which will then become a part of Doha.
Culture and Tradition in Doha
Doha was declared the capital of Arab culture in 2010, an occasion which was celebrated with different events throughout the year. This goes to show that, besides being the country’s financial and political center, Doha also takes the reins as the cultural capital of Qatar.
Qataris uphold different traditions such as falconry. While in the past, Bedouins used falcons for hunting, it is now mostly a hobby for the rich. The birds are bred in captivity and often have a small radio transmitter implanted under their tail so that the owners can track them. The hunting season usually lasts from October until March. The Saker (hurr) and the Peregrine (shaheen) are the two most popular falcon types.
Qatar also has a rich maritime culture as fishing and pearl-diving were the main contributors to the country’s economy before the rise of the petroleum sector. Many Qatari family trees reach back to the nomad tribes that lived along the coast. Today, the traditional boats (dhow) which were historically used for fishing and trading can still be seen in Doha’s harbor. People living in Doha use them for sports and leisure.
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Doha: Higher Education and Healthcare
Qatar University, located in Doha, offers a multitude of majors as well as 60 specializations to citizens and foreigners. While its curriculum offers a solid educational basis, the university is eager to keep students in close touch with business and industry. In this way, they can combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience.
Due to its good academic infrastructure, Qatar University is the leading research center in the country. Its main campus is located 16km from the city center. It offers a great view over the Doha Golf course and the West Bay Lagoon housing complex. In addition to the main campus, the university owns an experimental farm 65km north of Doha.
The university’s campus is divided into two adjacent sections for male and female students. Both sections have lecture halls and laboratories for the students. Qatar University prides itself on being an equal-opportunity institution with a diverse student body.
The university first opened its gates in 1973, accepting a total of 150 students (93 women and 57 men). As expected, the number of students grew rapidly, once the university opened additional departments and offered more diverse courses of study. Currently, the number of students is 8,000 with an alumni body of 30,000.
Aside from Qatar University, Education City is a major institution in Doha. It offers programs for all kinds of educational needs and all age levels, from early childhood to postgraduate studies.
Apart from that, Education City has partnered with top-notch educational institutions and is now home to nine renowned universities from the US, UK, France, and Qatar, which greatly enhance its already high reputation.
Qatar Academy is part of Education City as well. It offers Arabic and English-language education to girls and boys from preschool to university entry level, accepting students of all nationalities. Founded in 1996, Qatar Academy is essentially an International Baccalaureate World School with a senior program designed to prepare students for university.
A key component of Qatar Academy is its community service, which students are required to participate in. These services also count towards the students’ grades. The school offers a lot of extra-curricular activities as well.
Qatar has a high-quality healthcare system, offering all kinds of services to patients with general medical and special needs. While Qatari citizens receive free healthcare, expats have to pay for these services or cover the costs through a private health insurance. To learn more about the Qatari healthcare system, have a look at the InterNations article on Living in Qatar.
There are some primary medical care centers and public hospitals in Doha, which are managed by the Hamad Medical Corporation, such as
- Hamad General Hospital
- Rumailah Hospital
- Women’s Hospital
- Psychiatric Hospital
Aside from these public healthcare facilities, Doha is also home to some international hospitals. The staff at these hospitals is often better qualified to cater to the needs of expats:
- American Hospital, on C-Ring Road next to the Labor Department
- California Medical Center, Wadi El Sail Area
- Apollo Clinic Qatar, Masoura Area on Al Mutaza Street
- Euro Clinic, on Al-Kenana Street
- Future Dental Center, on Asmaa Street in Al Waab
- FMC Future Medical Center, on Al Waab Street, opposite the Villagio Mall
This is not a comprehensive list, of course. Expats who want to be sure that they choose the hospital which is just right for them should contact their insurance company for a full list or get in touch with other expats from the InterNations Doha Community. They will surely be glad to offer some advice.
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