Life in Qatar

Accommodation & Housing

Upon acceptance of your job offer, the HR Generalist/ Mobilization from VCUQatar will contact you to discuss your housing needs and answer any concerns you may have, such as the proximity of schools and child care centers near your allotted accommodation.

Housing

VCUQatar provides fully furnished apartments or villas (including appliances, cutlery, utensils, bed linens etc.) for their sponsored employees. You will also be provided with a temporary mobile phone, laptop and basic groceries.

VCUQatar provides internet, but does not provide landline or television facilities for employees. However, upon receipt of your residence permit, you are eligible to apply to Qtel for cable etc. and receive different Qtel packages available in Qatar, which can usually be setup and installed within approximately 10 working days.

Examples of Housing

The pictures below illustrate the standard of accommodation we provide to international faculty and staff.

Education in Qatar

Qatar has a variety of schools, nursery and pre-schools with different curricula, including American, British, International Baccalaureate, Indian, Lebanese, etc. However, because of the large number of school-age children, availability is at a premium. Depending on your request, the HR Generalist/ Mobilization Specialist can assist you with your schooling needs at the time of your relocation to Qatar.

It is advisable to register well before the summer holidays as some schools start their registration one year in advance. Early registration is also recommended as many schools require prospective students to sit for an entrance exam in addition to providing reports and test results from previous schools.

Nursery/ Preschools

HR will provide this information upon request.

Schools

American Academy School

American School of Doha

  • Tel: +974-4459-1500
  • Fax:+ 974-4459-1570
  • Email: info@asd.edu.qa
  • The school consists of an elementary, middle and high school
  • Facilities: include swimming pool, gymnasium, 2 libraries, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts and two grassed fields
  • Website: http://www.asd.edu.qa

Al-Jazeera Academy

  • Tel: +974 469 3777
  • Fax: +974 4682555
  • Email: registrar@aja.edu.qa
  • Comprises 4 schools:
  • Early Learning Centre (pre-school and reception)
  • Primary School (years 1-6)
  • Secondary girls school (years 7-13)
  • Secondary boys school (years 7-13)
  • Curriculum: International primary school, IGCSE for secondary school with option to follow IB diploma or Cambridge International Diplomas.
  • Website: http://www.aja.edu.qa

Al Khor International School

  • Tel: (+974) 44734666
  • Fax: (+974) 44734665
  • Address: Al Khor International School (British Stream)
  • Email (admissions): jane.fabrigas@akisbs.tv
  • Website: http://www.gemseducation.com
  • This is a Gems managed school offering the British Curriculum. It includes both a primary and a secondary school.

Cedars Tutoring Program

  • +974 4468 8192 / 5583 0165
  • Email:cedarstutoring@hotmail.com
  • Location: Off Al Afnan Street between Salwa Road and Haloul Street
  • Offers additional tutoring, bridging programs and intensive English courses to prepare students for English language schools
  • Website: http://www.cedarstutoring.com

Compass International School

  • Tel: +974 4487 7445
  • Fax: +974 4487 7446
  • Email: info@cisdoha.org
  • Ages taught: 4-12 (with plans to raise the upper age limit to 18)
  • Location: Waab Al Abareeq Street in Al Gharaffa (close to Education city).
  • Website: http://www.cisdoha.org

Doha Montessori British School

Doha College

Doha English Speaking School

  • Tel +974 4487 0170
  • Fax +974 44875921
  • Email: dess@qatar.net.qa
  • Ages taught: 3-10
  • Location: Near TV roundabout
  • Curriculum: National Curriculum of England
  • Facilities include: covered swimming pool, music room, sporting facilities and playing field.
  • Website: http://www.dess.org

Doha Modern Indian School

Lycée Voltaire (French School)

  • Tel: (+974) 4412 8105
  • Fax: (+974) 4412 8103
  • Location: West Bay
  • Offers the French curriculum and baccalaureate in the medium of the French language

Lycée Bonaparte (French School)

  • Tel: (+974) 4496 0300
  • Fax: (+974) 4496 0300
  • Offers the French curriculum and baccalaureate in the medium of the French language
  • http://www.lycee-bonaparte.fr

International School of London

  • Tel: +974 6618 9821
  • Fax: +974 4499 5208
  • Email: mail@islqatar.com
  • Website: http://www.islqatar.com (Warning - greets you with loud music!)
  • Curriculum is based on the International Baccalaureate programmers.

Newton International School

Park House English School

  • Tel: +974 4463 3800
  • Fax: +974 4458 3785
  • Email: phes@qatar.net.qa
  • Location: Wholesale Market Street
  • Ages taught: Primary School 3-11 years old
  • Comprehensive School Year 7-12
  • Curriculum: Follows English and Welsh National Curriculum
  • Facilities include science labs, I.T. suites, auditorium, heated swimming pool and sports facilities including football pitch.
  • Website: http://www.parkhouseschool.com

Qatar Academy

  • Tel +974 4482 6666
  • Fax: +974 4480 2769
  • Email: qataracademy@qf.org.qa
  • Location: Education city
  • Includes primary and secondary school.
  • Curriculum: international baccalaureate.
  • Features include: science laboratories and art studios, 250 seat auditorium, library-media centre, 50m Olympic swimming pool and training pools + multi gym.
  • Website: http://www.qataracademy.edu.qa

Qatar Canadian School

Qatar International School

  • Tel: +974 4483 3456
  • Fax: +974 4483 1096
  • Email: info@qis.org
  • Location: Dafna West Bay Area of Qatar next to French School and new Lebanese School
  • Teaches ages 2 ½ - 17
  • Teachers: U.K. trained
  • Facilities include: swimming pool and sports facilities
  • Website: http://www.qis.org

The Cambridge School for Boys and Girls

  • Tel: +974 4696590/ 4690520
  • Fax: +974 4469 9278
  • Email: cambridge@qatar.net.qa
  • Ages taught: 3-18
  • Curriculum: National Curriculum for England and Wales
  • Location: Al Madeed Street, Mamoura Area

The Gulf English School

 

Medical & Healthcare

Employees are eligible for both private health care insurance and as residents of Qatar have access to the national health service. 

Private Health Care

VCUQatar provides COVA CARE/ BlueCross / BlueShield coverage and AXA insurance as benefits for employees. After your arrival in Qatar, the HR team will provide information about the health care benefits during the orientation. Employees can opt for either of the plans and if they decide to convert their plan from one to the other later, it can only be done during the open enrollment every April.

National Health Service

Employees will also receive the Government Health Card from Hamad Medical Corporation. After your residence permit has been issued, you must complete the medical card application form and submit it to HR.

Within Hamad Medical City are Hamad Hospital, Al Amal Oncology Hospital, Rumailah Hospital and the Woman’s Hospital.

The Emergency Telephone Number is 999.

Government Hospitals

Al Khor General Hospital

Location: on the main road out of Al Khor (towards Al Thakira).

Tel: +974 474 5555

Children's Emergency Centre (Al Sadd)

Location: Next to Al Sadd traffic signals
Tel: +974 439 2948
A children’s health hotline is also based here.
Hotline: +974 4396061

Al Amal Oncology Hospital (cancer treatment)

Aims to provide total cancer care. Includes early detection unit, therapy, counseling and rehabilitation.
Tel: +974 4745555
Location: Off Mohammad Bin Thani Street next to the women’s hospital.

Hamad General Hospital (includes Accident and Emergency)

Also offers private medical service + “five star” patient rooms.
Tel: +974 4394444
Location: Off Al Rayyan Road opposite Lulu Centre.

Rumailah Hospital

Services include plastic surgery, Ear nose and throat surgery, ophthalmology and a stroke unit. Tel: +974 4393333 Location: off Al Istiolal Street, next to the Olympic Village.

Women’s Hospital

Also include “five star” rooms.
Tel: +974 439 6666
Located in the same grounds as Hamad Hospital. A new 305 bed hospital is now being built in Al Wakra.

Private Hospitals

Al Ahli Hospital

Tel: +974 489 8888
Location: Ahmed Bin Ali Street

Al-Emadi Hospital

Tel: +974 466 6009
Location: On D ring road, opposite Regency Hall and near The Mall roundabout.

American Hospital

Tel: +974 442 1999
Email: ahdoha@qatar.net.qa
Location: Al Muntazah, next to the Labour Department on C-ring road.
 

Doha Clinic Hospital

Email: dohaclnk@qatar.net.qa
Tel: +974 432 7300
Location: New El-Merqab Street, Fariq Al-Nasr
Emergency: +974 4432 7303

 

Tips for a successful stay

Some Dos

  • Do remember that Qatar is a nation which embraces the Islamic culture, and certain clothing is more appropriate to present oneself respectably. Men and women should wear shorts and sleeveless tops only at the beach or a private, enclosed pool.
  • Do make sure to drink plenty of water, and watch for potential heat-related sicknesses, especially in the summer months. Headaches, nausea, and dizziness are some of the signs that you may be dehydrated and overheating.
  • Do remember to protect yourself from the sun. Some type of head cover is recommended to prevent severe sunburn. Sun-block is a must, at all times of the year.
  • Do ask permission from people before taking their photograph. Many of the older people and most of the local women object to having their picture taken. Most government buildings, police, and armed forces buildings are off-limits for casual photography. Taking photographs at the airport is also forbidden.
  • Do be prepared to bargain with shopkeepers – especially in the Souqs (street markets). Enjoy the experience!

Some Don’ts

  • Don't wade in the coastal waters barefoot. Poisonous stonefish frequent the shallows. These appear to be rocks, but can inject poison into your foot when stepped on.
  • Don’t cross your feet in such a way as to expose the bottoms of your feet to a Qatari host. Showing the bottoms of one's feet is considered an insult.
  • Traditional wisdom and practicality of the past has emphasized the use and preference of the right hand for greeting people and taking food. It is best to interact with others and give/ receive items with the right.
  • Do not drink and drive. There is zero tolerance for drunken behavior or driving a car under the influence of alcohol, even a small amount. Severe penalties can include fines, imprisonment and deportation. Special caution should be exercised when driving home after dinner or a party - designated drivers are strongly recommended
  • It is illegal to gift, sell, or exchange alcohol in Qatar.

Useful Information

Shopping Hours

Some shops close from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. every afternoon. Many malls are open from 10:00 a.m. to midnight (check ahead!). On Fridays, all shops and food outlets will be closed from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for prayer.

The Holy Month of Ramadan

During the holy month of Ramadan, it is forbidden to eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public during the hours of fasting (between dawn and sunset).

Consumption of Alcohol

The importation and consumption of alcohol is strictly regulated. While alcohol will be available in most hotel restaurants and bars, you will need to obtain a liquor permit in order to purchase alcohol from the Qatar Distribution Center (QDC) for consumption in your home. Permits are available on-site at the QDC.

Liquor purchased through the QDC must be taken directly home and should be kept concealed while driving.

For more information, please contact the Human Resources Office.

Time

Standard time in Doha, Qatar is 3 hours ahead of UCT (Universal Coordinated Time, formerly know as GMT) and seven hours ahead of EST (Eastern Standard Time).  During Daylight Savings Time in the U.S., Qatar is 8 hours ahead of EST.

Weather

The country of Qatar has a desert climate, with long hot summers and generally mild winters.   Winter temperatures vary but rarely drop below 45 degrees Farenheit (approximately 7 degrees Celsius.)  However, it can feel quite cold because most buildings are not centrally heated. 

The summer months are very humid and hot, with temperatures sometimes exceeding 110 degrees Farenheit (approximately 45 degrees Celsius.)  Rainfall is scarce and occurs mainly between October and March.

Population

Although there are no reliable figures available, Qatari newspapers estimated in early 2008 the population to be 1.5 million.  The population has been estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 9%.   About half of the total population lives in Doha.

Qatari citizens account for roughly 20% of the population.  Other Arab groups, mostly Palestinians, Lebanese, Omani, Syrians, and Egyptians account for another 20%.  Pakistanis and Indians each represent 18%, Iranians 10%, while Europeans, Americans and others make up the balance.

Language

The official language of Qatar is Arabic.  However, English is widely used in everyday life and a majority of businesses are capable of completing transactions and services using English.  In addition, all classes taught at Education City universities are taught in English.

VCUQatar offers free Arabic lessons to Faculty and Staff at a variety of skill levels through Community Courses.  Contact the Human Resources office for more information on classes. 

Safety & Security

At VCUQatar, we take the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff and their family members seriously. As part of a continuous effort, we have a full-time Chief Safety Officer working tirelessly to ensure students, employees and their family members are kept safe whether they are at work, at home, or elsewhere in Qatar.

Embassy Registration For U.S. Citizens

The US Embassy has a Warden System that is used by the Embassy to immediately notify those registered of any serious incident happening in the immediate area or to provide information on a serious situation that may have occurred elsewhere but impacts Qatar. Please make sure to register online at:

https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs

Note: When registering, please make sure to identify your employer/affiliate as VCU.

In addition, please make sure to update your personal information. If your phone number or family situation has changed, you should re-register with this new information. 

If You Are Not a U.S. Citizen

Non-U.S. employees working in Qatar  should also register with their home country's embassy.  Your embassy needs to be aware of your presence in Qatar, so that they can assist you in the event of an emergency. As the process for registering with embassies varies, please contact your embassy directly for information on how to register.

  • A complete listing of embassies in Qatar, along with phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses, can be found in the latest version of Marhaba guide, copies of which may be found in the VCUQatar Human Resources office.
  • The Embassies Abroad website and Qatar Visitor website also include contact information for several embassies located in Qatar.  
  • If you need any assistance with embassy registration, please contact VCUQatar Human Resources.

 

Family Life in Qatar

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar is committed to creating a supportive network of people, activities and programs to promote the research and personal development of all faculty and staff in the VCUQatar community. Our Human Resources department has a dedicated team to welcome you and answer any queries you may have about Qatar, from what is available in the supermarkets to recommending schools for your children.

The HR department will also keep in touch with your spouse about their interests and helps them get involved in activities and organizations in Qatar while also making suggestions regarding jobs. The university has events organized throughout the year from lectures and exhibitions to community classes, family days and Ramadan iftars so your family feels they are part of the VCUQatar community.

Qatar is a family-oriented country where children are welcomed just about everywhere. Families, and especially children, play an important role in Qatari culture. Family outings are very popular and you will see large extended family groups picnicking outside and around the playgrounds, parks and the Corniche area in cooler months.

Activities

Organized sports are big here in Qatar. Activities to keep your family active include aikido, aerobics, badminton, baseball, basketball and bowling. Cycling is a favorite pastime and you’ll find families peddling around the compounds. Cross-country bikes can also be found for sale in Doha.

Take advantage of horseback riding on Arabian horses in Doha. There are several tracks and expert facilities with breeders in Qatar. Classes can be arranged for adults and kids both in group settings or private sessions. Perhaps you prefer ice-skating at the City Center Mall where you can take ice-skating and hockey lessons.

Sports

Doha offers pristinely manicured golf courses for your family to play and enjoy in the cool weather months. The Qatar Master’s Tournament is held every March on its golf course. Lessons are available for all ages and levels.

Tennis is another widely played sport in Doha with most compounds and sports clubs housing their own tennis courts. There are several instructors to take lessons from. World-class tournaments are held annually.

Or perhaps you prefer karate, rugby, track, squash, Tae Kwon Do, volleyball or swimming at either the sports clubs or your compound’s pool. The opportunities are endless.

Culture

For those of you who like a little more culture and a little less sports, you will find art and voice lessons, music instruction and language classes. There are dance lessons for children and teens in ballet and ballroom dancing.

The Doha Players is regionally renowned for producing several plays and musicals throughout the year where both young and old can perform, run backstage operations or simply enjoy as audience members. All sorts of societies thrive in Qatar, such as American Women’s Association, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts. You can join chess and film clubs or take cooking and gardening classes. There are environmental and natural history groups that meet regularly and plan activities as well as photography and science clubs.

Museums

Visit the country’s museums, including the Islamic Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Qatar National Museum and the Weaponry Museum, containing centuries’ old daggers and gilt-handled swords. History buffs will enjoy traveling outside Doha to the various forts and towers dotting Qatar’s landscape. Jebel Jassassiyeh features more then 900 carvings dating back thousands of years, offering many delights for the professional or amateur archaeologist.

The Corniche

The Corniche may be one of the most popular locations in Doha. Stretching along Doha Bay, this grassy expanse offers a pedestrian-only area for walking, running and playing. With the Arabian Gulf as a backdrop, families can enjoy a picnic or a stroll. Additionally, many organized activities take place along the Corniche, including parades and fireworks. During holidays and festivals Doha residents go to the Corniche to see the colored lights and decorations, eat local foods and watch the extravagant fireworks displays.

Al Rumeila Park, located opposite the Corniche, contains ornamental pools and waterways with wooden bridges where kids can play and visit small food and souvenir stalls. There is an outdoor theater, children’s playground and a half-pipe for skateboarders. With many benches and grassy areas to enjoy, families find much to do together in this relaxing environment.

Boats and ferry rides to surrounding islands usually dock from the Corniche and the fishing harbor is here as well. You can take a voyage on a traditional wooden boat, called a Dhow around Doha Bay.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to sail, the Arabian Gulf is the perfect place for your family to learn maritime skills. With more than 700 km of coastline you can spend the entire day with your family beachcombing for shells and building skyscraper sandcastles.

Shopping Malls

Most of the large shopping complexes have entire play areas dedicated for children. These amusement centers offer a variety of games, rides, and activities, including Circus Land at the Landmark Shopping Mall, Jungle Zone at Hyatt Plaza, and Toby’s Adventureland at The Mall. Located in City Center Doha, Winter Wonderland offers ice skating, bowling alleys, and a water park, while X-Treme World offers a range of rides, games, and sports.

Most of the shopping centers have cinemas showing some of the latest blockbuster movie releases, complete with candy, soft drinks and popcorn. Throughout the year, Qatar has many festivals to entertain the entire family. Qatar Summer Wonders, in July, is filled with fun activities, shows and events.

Housemaid services in Doha

One of the advantages of living in the Middle East is the ease with which you can hire someone to help you with your household chores. The majority of expat families in Doha have domestic help.

Useful sites

Please visit the links provided below for more information on activities offered for your children and the communities and organizations you would like to join.