Like living in Qatar as an expat

Oliver Wyman City Guide - Living and Working in Qatar

Job opportunities are good in Qatar as the country is growing rapidly. Andrea supported a project for Oliver Wyman and reports on living and working in Qatar from an insider's perspective.

What is life like as a management consultant in Qatar?

As a management consultant in Qatar, I was an expat, like most of the people who live there (only about 20% of the population are Qataris). This is a change, but a positive one: the hotels are a bit more pompous, the sea is within reach, the sun shines almost every day and everything feels new and exciting in a certain way. Contrary to the common belief that as a Western woman you have to accept restrictions in Islamic countries, Qatar is very open. Life is much easier as a management consultant, especially because of the cultural diversity. Qatar offers another advantage: its geographical location makes it an ideal starting point for smaller trips to the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Lebanon and Syria.

Does a consulting project in Qatar differ from a project in Germany?

Even in Germany, I haven't seen consulting projects look very similar. This is precisely what makes the consultation so appealing: the tasks, the background, the environment are always different. A consulting project in Qatar is as different as projects in Germany, perhaps with the small difference that the customer does not wear a suit but often appears in traditional clothing (in the so-called "Dischdascha"). The same thing remains: the cooperation with top management and the chance to really make a difference.

You have certainly seen a lot in Qatar! What do you have to see?

There are very few places of interest in Qatar - the country consists largely of desert and only developed from fishing and pearl farming to today's modern country with the discovery of oil in the early 1940s. In the capital Doha, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Arab Museum of Modern Art (Mathaf) and the souk, where you can experience a feeling of a thousand and one nights outside on pleasant winter days, are worthwhile. Since the country is very small, there are few excursion options outside of Doha. The singing dunes in the desert, a very special natural phenomenon, are a welcome exception.

What do you have to consider as a European when you come to Qatar?

In summer it's hot, very hot. Temperatures well over 40 degrees are absolutely normal and beach days should therefore only be considered from the late evening onwards. As a tourist during Ramadan, you should note that public eating and drinking is forbidden during the day, but the feasts held every evening after sunset are worth a visit. It is important: restrained clothing. While veiling is not expected for non-native women, short skirts and bare shoulders should be avoided out of respect for the culture.

Which food is typical for Qatar and where is the best place to eat?

Due to the diversity of nationalities, there is almost every food in Qatar that can be got anywhere else in the world, with the exception of dishes with pork. In addition to classic Arab mezze, a specialty of the country is the hammour, a white sea fish that is prepared in a wide variety of ways. If you like it unusual, try camel meat. Good restaurants can be found in the large international hotels and on “The Pearl”, an artificially created island, similar to the “Palm Tree” in Dubai, with 32 kilometers of coastline, from which you can often take a look at impressive yachts. For a more traditional experience, head to the souk.

A good friend is visiting Qatar with you: What about the nightlife in Qatar do you introduce to him / her?

After dinner, the water pipe is a must in the souk. The nightlife, however, takes place in the international hotels. To celebrate, the “Crystal Lounge” in the W Hotel is one of the best that Qatar has to offer. Those who like it a little bigger can choose the “Qube” club in the Ramada Plaza Hotel. The Admirals Club in the Ritz Carlton is less for dancing, but well suited for sporting events of all kinds. Always have your passport in mind when entering clubs!

If someone moves to Qatar - what job opportunities are open to them?

The job opportunities are good because the country is experiencing incredible growth. The dominant industries are oil, gas, aviation, telecommunications and hotels, well-known names here are Qatargas, Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Airways and Qtel. Every hotel chain will certainly be represented by the world championship in 2020. The following applies to all companies: Applicants should have a high level of intercultural competence and flexibility.

Andrea is an associate in Oliver Wyman's Munich office. Andrea has been working for companies in the aviation, retail, energy and automotive industries since 2008. She supports projects on change management, reorganization and process optimization and develops and implements marketing and sales strategies. From April 2010 to April 2011 she supported a project in Qatar.

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