Throughout the Gulf Region, we currently recruit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Within these countries there are large expat communities and lots of medical expats, particularly in cities like Doha, where the majority of the population are expatriates. While the Gulf Region has a lot to offer, people from other countries can find it very culturally different, and moving there can take some adjusting to and requires an open mind. Here are some things to consider when making the move to the Gulf Region.
Some of the biggest changes you will notice will relate to the strict adherence to their religious beliefs; as time for praying is factored into the day, conservative dress is worn by all and religious holidays are celebrated. One of the most apparent cultural differences is restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia, as women are not allowed to drive and for the most part do not travel around alone.
Arabic is the official language but across all regions English is widely spoken and is often the language used in business, due to the number of expatriates from Western countries. One of the things expats from the UK tend to enjoy about living in the Gulf Region is the warm, dry weather. However, most people find it too hot in the summer so stay indoors or spend time in another location.
There are restrictions on the sale of alcohol and pork in Qatar and it is banned completely in Saudi Arabia. These countries import most of their food, making it more expensive than locally sourced products, so expatriates will likely have to pay more if they want familiar brands across food, clothes and household goods, however, there are many amazing local products to try. Petrol prices are very cheap so travel by car is very popular, however there are also public transport links across Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are very affordable. Overall, the costs of living compare favourably against the UK, and buying consumer goods is considerably cheaper than in most developed countries of the world.
Other costs such as rent and bills will vary depending on location and the type of house you live in. Many expatriates opt to live in expatriate communities, which tend to include facilities such as a pool, restaurants and shops, as well as 24 hour security, and can be a good way to socialise with other expatriates. However, living in a local residential area is cheaper than living an expat community.
Many of the cities in the Gulf Region have a lot to offer, with sight-seeing, shopping and restaurants to visit, and you can get a look into the culture and history by visiting the souqs and museums. As well as this, Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the world, and is rapidly growing in economic, social and political capacities, making it a popular destination for business. Qatar will also be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, so several new stadiums are being built and improvements being made throughout the city, with public transport being expanded.
Most expats send their children to international schools, which are widely available across the Gulf Region and vary in cost and entry requirements. International schools typically follow Western holidays and will also respect Islamic holidays and have shorter school days during Ramadan. Outside of this the school and working week is Sunday-Thursday.
While a move to the Gulf Region will likely come with a culture shock, it can be a great place to live and further your career. If you are interested in a move to Qatar or Saudi Arabia, get in touch today:
Annie Nicholson – Managing Consultant (Gulf)
Phone: +44 (0)131 240 525
Carol Greig – Senior Recruitment Consultant (Gulf)
Phone : +44 (0)131 240 5273