Moving to Qatar with your family

Updated 2023-06-20 19:34

Moving to Qatar with your family can be an exciting adventure. Here are some considerations and tips to make the transition smoother with young children, from formalities to be accomplished to childcare services and education and family activities.

Sponsorship and visas for expat families in Qatar

To sponsor your immediate family members (spouse and children) to join you in Qatar, you need to follow a specific procedure. Here are the general steps involved:

You should have a valid employment contract and residency permit (work permit) in Qatar, as you must be a resident in the country to sponsor your family.

Ensure that your salary meets the minimum requirement set by the Qatari government to be eligible to sponsor your family. The specific salary requirement may vary, so it's advisable to check with the Ministry of Interior or relevant authorities for the latest information.

Submit an application to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) or the relevant immigration department. The application should include the necessary documents, such as your employment contract, salary certificate, passport copies, marriage certificate, and birth certificates of your children.

Your family members will need to undergo a medical check-up at an approved medical center or hospital in Qatar. This check-up includes a general health assessment and screening for infectious diseases.

Once the application is approved, the Ministry of Interior will issue entry visas for your family members. These visas will allow them to enter Qatar.

After entering Qatar, your family members must complete the residence permit process within a specific timeframe. This includes providing additional documents, such as their passport, medical certificate, and photographs, and undergoing biometric data registration.

It is mandatory for all residents in Qatar, including sponsored family members, to have valid health insurance coverage. Ensure that your family members are covered by a suitable health insurance policy.

Education in Qatar

Qatar has a range of educational options, including international schools, private schools, and local Qatari schools. Research and explore different schools to find the best fit for your children's education. It's advisable to start the school admission process well in advance to secure a place for your children. Consider factors such as curriculum, location, facilities, extracurricular activities, and language of instruction.

Qatar's education system is controlled by the Supreme Education Council. Education is free of charge at all levels for local students, that is, from nursery to secondary final year. However, private education is necessary for expatriate non-Arabic speaking children. Subjects are taught in Arabic in public schools, and therefore most expat children attend international schools.

Preschools in Qatar

In general, pre-primary schools in Qatar welcome children from the age of three until they are six. In fact, they join primary school the year they turn six and for a six years period.

Note that private schools are quite expensive and can be a considerable expense for expatriate parents. Check with your employer regarding your salary package and whether this includes tuition fees and for how many children this will cover.

You are more likely to find private pre-primary schools in Doha, the capital city. However, these operate under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Affairs, especially in terms of staff recruitment and regulations. Small nursery and daycare schools that do not have qualified staff and necessary facilities are not taken into account by the system.

Many kindergartens and nurseries in Qatar teach in English. Some of these host at least three months old children, while others prefer to take more than 12 months old children, whether on a full-time or part-time basis.

Monthly fees and the schooling schedule vary from one school to another. You should also consider additional costs such as registration fees, the purchase of uniforms and school materials, transportation, etc.

Some pre-primary schools are affiliated with primary schools. Thus, children will be primarily considered during primary school registration exercises.

Preschools in Qatar often offer a range of activities for children to support their holistic development and learning. These activities are designed to be age-appropriate and stimulate children's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills. Here are some common activities that preschools in Qatar may provide:

  • Play-based learning
  • Language and literacy development
  • Math and Science exploration
  • Arts and crafts
  • Music and movement
  • Outdoor play
  • Field trips and special events.

The specific activities offered by preschools can vary, so it's recommended to research and visit different preschools in Qatar to inquire about their curriculum, teaching approach, and the activities they provide. This will help you choose a preschool that aligns with your child's interests and developmental needs.

Preschool registration in Qatar

In some cases, your employer or sponsor in Qatar can help you with registration formalities, particularly when it comes to international schools. As mentioned earlier, it is better to enroll your child in advance so as to secure a seat for the following year. Registration applications are generally received in January, while classes start in September. In the case of newcomers, children are often registered in the middle of the school year, but this greatly depends on the availability of seats.

Documents to be produced during registration are the following: your passport and visa, as well as those of your child and your child's birth certificate. Fees applied vary from one school to another and depend on several factors, including the location, reputation of the preschool, facilities offered, curriculum, and additional services provided. In some cases, a non-refundable advance may be requested. It's important to note that preschool fees in Qatar are generally higher for expatriates compared to Qatari citizens. Here is a general estimate of the fees expats can expect for preschool registration in Qatar:

Nursery classes (age 1-2 years): The fees for nursery classes can range from around QAR 5,000 to QAR 10,000 per term or more, depending on the preschool's facilities and services.

Pre-KG and KG classes (age 3-5 years): The fees for Pre-KG and KG classes can range from around QAR 7,000 to QAR 15,000 per term or more. Some premium preschools may have higher fees.

Once the application has been received, you may be summoned for a small interview with the school officials.

Nannies and "au-pairs" in Qatar

Many expatriate families in Qatar rely on nannies to take care of their young children. You can choose between an "au-pair" and a babysitter. In the case of an "au-pair", you will have to obtain your employer or sponsor's approval. As regards the "au-pair", the latter will also need a residence permit and have to pass related medical examinations. Once these procedures have been completed, you are required to provide the "au-pair" with accommodation and a salary along with some benefits. However, bear in mind that the "au-pairs" are not qualified early childhood professionals. Also, only heads of families are allowed to hire "au-pairs" in Qatar. You can find an "au-pair" on the internet or through specialized international agencies.

For finding babysitters, word-of-mouth referrals from friends, colleagues, or other expatriate families in Qatar can be a reliable and trusted method. It's also helpful to join online communities, expat groups, or social media platforms specific to Qatar, where you can seek recommendations and connect with local babysitters who have already been vetted by other families.

Remember to always prioritize safety and conduct thorough background checks or interviews when selecting an au pair or babysitter to ensure the well-being of your family and children.

Family activities in Qatar

Qatar offers a range of family-friendly activities and recreational opportunities. Explore parks, beaches, museums, and cultural attractions where you can spend quality time with your family. There are also various sports clubs, community centers, and entertainment venues that cater to families.

Family-friendly accommodation in Qatar

Look for suitable housing options that accommodate your family's needs. Consider factors such as the size of the property, location, proximity to schools and amenities, and safety. Qatar offers a variety of housing options, including apartments, villas, and compounds. It's advisable to work with a reputable real estate agent or use online platforms to search for available properties.

Healthcare in Qatar

Qatar has a well-established healthcare system, both public and private. Research the healthcare facilities and services available in your area of residence. Ensure that you have comprehensive health insurance coverage for your family. Register with a local healthcare provider and keep their contact information handy for any medical needs.

To find health services and doctors for children in Qatar, you can follow these steps:

Start by researching healthcare providers in Qatar that specialize in pediatric care. This can include hospitals, clinics, and medical centers that have dedicated pediatric departments.

If you have health insurance in Qatar, check the list of approved healthcare providers within your network. This will help you narrow down your options and ensure that the services will be covered by your insurance.

Seek recommendations from other expatriate families, friends, colleagues, or online communities specific to Qatar. They can provide insights and personal experiences with healthcare providers for children.

Qatar has online directories that list healthcare providers, including those specializing in pediatric care. You can refer to these directories to find contact information, addresses, and details about the services offered.

Qatar also has dedicated pediatric clinics that provide a range of services for children, including routine check-ups, vaccinations, and specialized care. Research these clinics and consider them as options for your child's healthcare needs.

Some hospitals in Qatar are known for their expat-friendly services and international standards of care. These hospitals often have a range of specialized pediatric services and experienced doctors catering to the expatriate community.

Support network in Qatar

Helping children adapt to their new environment in Qatar can be a gradual process that requires patience and support. Here are some tips to assist children in adapting to their new surroundings:

Encourage open communication with your child about their feelings, concerns, and experiences in Qatar. Create a safe space for them to express themselves and address any questions or uncertainties they may have.

Teach children about the local culture, traditions, and customs of Qatar. Engage them in learning activities that showcase the country's heritage, cuisine, language, and festivals. This will help them develop an appreciation for their new environment.

Encourage your child to participate in social activities and join clubs or groups where they can interact with other children. This can include extracurricular activities, sports teams, community events, or school clubs. Making friends with local and expatriate children can facilitate their integration.

If your child is attending school in Qatar, ensure they receive the necessary support from teachers and staff. Schools often have programs in place to help new students adjust to the educational system and provide support for their social integration.

Establish and maintain familiar routines from your home country to provide a sense of stability and continuity for your child. This can include daily routines, meal times, and family activities that they are accustomed to.

Take the time to explore Qatar as a family and introduce your child to new places, attractions, and experiences. Visit parks, museums, cultural sites, and landmarks to help them develop a sense of belonging and familiarity with their new surroundings.

Help your child stay connected with family and friends from their home country through regular communication, video calls, and visits if possible. This can provide a sense of continuity and support during the transition period.

Cultural awareness in Qatar

Qatar has a rich cultural heritage, and it's important to respect and embrace the local customs and traditions. Learn about Qatari culture, social norms, and Islamic values. Teach your family about cultural sensitivities and encourage them to appreciate and respect the local customs.

Here are some examples of cultural norms and customs in Qatar that expatriate families should be aware of and respect:

Dress code: Qatari culture values modesty in dress. It is customary to dress modestly, especially in public places and when visiting religious sites. Women are expected to cover their shoulders and knees, and men are expected to wear shirts in public.

Greetings: The traditional Arabic greeting is "Assalamu alaikum," which means "Peace be upon you." It is common to greet others with a handshake or a nod. It is important to show respect and greet elders first.

Islamic etiquette: Islam is the predominant religion in Qatar, and Islamic etiquette should be observed. For example, it is important to respect mosques as sacred places and remove shoes before entering. Women should cover their hair with a scarf and dress modestly.

Food etiquette: Qataris take pride in their traditional cuisine. When dining with Qatari hosts, it is polite to accept food offerings and try different dishes. It is customary to eat with the right hand, as the left hand is considered unclean.

Respect for elders: Qataris have great respect for elders and value family relationships. It is important to show respect to older people, address them using appropriate honorifics, and listen attentively when they speak

Safety and security in Qatar

Qatar is known for its safety and security. However, it's always wise to take precautions and stay informed about safety measures and emergency procedures. Familiarize yourself and your family with the local emergency numbers and be aware of any specific safety guidelines or advisories.

Work-life balance in Qatar

Qatar values work-life balance, and it's important to prioritize family time and quality time together. Take advantage of weekends and holidays to explore the country, engage in family activities, and create memorable experiences.

In Qatar, there are several popular holidays and occasions that families can enjoy and participate in. Some of the notable holidays and celebrations include:

  • National Day: Qatar National Day is celebrated on December 18th each year to commemorate the country's independence.
  • Eid Al-Fitr: Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. I
  • Eid Al-Adha: Eid Al-Adha, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, is another significant Islamic holiday in Qatar.
  • Qatar National Sports Day: Qatar National Sports Day is a public holiday dedicated to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

Apart from these specific holidays, there are also cultural festivals, exhibitions, and events held throughout the year in Qatar. These events provide opportunities for families to explore the local arts, music, cuisine, and traditions of the country.

By participating in these celebrations and taking advantage of public holidays and weekends, expatriate families can immerse themselves in the cultural fabric of Qatar, create lasting memories, and strengthen their bonds while enjoying the diverse experiences the country has to offer.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.