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Job in Doha, Qatar

Job in Doha, Qatar

Old Nov 25th 2021, 12:30 pm
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Greetings!

Firstly, let me say I have tremendously enjoyed reading this forum: tons of useful info and some very practical pieces of advice!

Secondly, I am currently in the final stages of interviews with a large sovereign wealth fund based in Doha. I am an investment professional with a bit over 8 years of experience based in the US Southwest (an area with a very low cost of living by US standards). I currently make around $120 k and have a wife and a newborn. My question for you is - what would be a compensation that would make you move to Doha if you were in my shoes? Once again, while $120 k is low by NY or SF standards, it goes a long way at my current location - we live in a brand new house (owned), both drive new cars, go on vacation twice a year and save money (my wife works remotely).

Appreciate your inputs and Happy Thanksgiving (to those who celebrate)

Last edited by BostonBruin; Nov 25th 2021 at 12:33 pm.
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Old Nov 25th 2021, 9:09 pm
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Default Re: Job in Doha, Qatar

$10k a month before or after taxes? If before taxes, that's almost minimum wage in US LOL .... Let's assume it's after taxes, your net take home pay?

You will have to calculate how much does it cost to actually live in Doha at the same standard, first. That will range from anywhere $5k to $20k a month, depending on where you live (accommodation can range from 1000 QAR to 20k QAR a month). Same for schooling, it can range from 20k QAR a year to over 80k QAR a year. It's quite a big range because of the various nationalities and range of salaries for all different kinds of people from all around the world. You decide what standard you are willing to live on monthly in Doha. Second, how much do you want to save? From my experience I think best paying place is Saudi Arabia and worse paying in the GCC are Qatar and UAE. It comes down to your personal choice on how much you would want to save over how much you save in US.
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Old Nov 25th 2021, 10:43 pm
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Default Re: Job in Doha, Qatar

Originally Posted by Calgary2021 View Post
$10k a month before or after taxes? If before taxes, that's almost minimum wage in US LOL .... Let's assume it's after taxes, your net take home pay?

You will have to calculate how much does it cost to actually live in Doha at the same standard, first. That will range from anywhere $5k to $20k a month, depending on where you live (accommodation can range from 1000 QAR to 20k QAR a month). Same for schooling, it can range from 20k QAR a year to over 80k QAR a year. It's quite a big range because of the various nationalities and range of salaries for all different kinds of people from all around the world. You decide what standard you are willing to live on monthly in Doha. Second, how much do you want to save? From my experience I think best paying place is Saudi Arabia and worse paying in the GCC are Qatar and UAE. It comes down to your personal choice on how much you would want to save over how much you save in US.
Thank you for your reply!

Yes, that amount is take home (after tax). I would disagree though - while 120 k (even on a gross basis) is nothing in NY/SF/Boston, it can go a long way in other states (Alabamas and Louisianas of the US) 😉

I assume I will be looking at living at Pearl (2BR/2Bathroom), having 1 car (there is an interest free allowance from the employer), going back home at least once a year. No need to think of schools yet (newborn baby). Ideally, would love to be saving at least $6-7 k a month. Do you think my expectations are a bit too high?
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Old Nov 25th 2021, 11:23 pm
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Default Re: Job in Doha, Qatar

Originally Posted by Calgary2021 View Post
$10k a month before or after taxes? If before taxes, that's almost minimum wage in US LOL .... Let's assume it's after taxes, your net take home pay?
I thought there was no income tax in Qatar?
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Old Nov 25th 2021, 11:28 pm
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Default Re: Job in Doha, Qatar

Originally Posted by spouse of scouse View Post
I thought there was no income tax in Qatar?
that’s his net pay in US
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Old Nov 25th 2021, 11:28 pm
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Default Re: Job in Doha, Qatar

Originally Posted by spouse of scouse View Post
I thought there was no income tax in Qatar?
That was regarding my initial statement (making 120 k in the US).

Nonetheless, we Americans still have to pay taxes to Uncle Sam (in case of Qatar - federal tax on anything over 108 k a year)…
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Old Nov 25th 2021, 11:38 pm
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Default Re: Job in Doha, Qatar

Originally Posted by BostonBruin View Post
Thank you for your reply!

Yes, that amount is take home (after tax). I would disagree though - while 120 k (even on a gross basis) is nothing in NY/SF/Boston, it can go a long way in other states (Alabamas and Louisianas of the US) 😉

I assume I will be looking at living at Pearl (2BR/2Bathroom), having 1 car (there is an interest free allowance from the employer), going back home at least once a year. No need to think of schools yet (newborn baby). Ideally, would love to be saving at least $6-7 k a month. Do you think my expectations are a bit too high?
My information is third hand (from folks living there, since myself have not lived there). You can get luxury accommodation for 9-12k QAR (3300USD) and mid level half of that. So say you will need atleast 1000-1500USD for accommodation. Living expenses from what I have heard family of 3 can live off comfortably for 10-15k QAR (4100USD). So that's around 5kUSD to live (home and expenses, not including car or travel) for a mid level (conservative) lifestyle and maybe 7k USD if you go out entertaining yourselves every other day. Unfortunately from my research, Qatar is the second most expensive country in the GCC after Dubai/UAE.
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Old Nov 26th 2021, 5:27 am
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Default Re: Job in Doha, Qatar

Originally Posted by Calgary2021 View Post
My information is third hand (from folks living there, since myself have not lived there). You can get luxury accommodation for 9-12k QAR (3300USD) and mid level half of that. So say you will need atleast 1000-1500USD for accommodation. Living expenses from what I have heard family of 3 can live off comfortably for 10-15k QAR (4100USD). So that's around 5kUSD to live (home and expenses, not including car or travel) for a mid level (conservative) lifestyle and maybe 7k USD if you go out entertaining yourselves every other day. Unfortunately from my research, Qatar is the second most expensive country in the GCC after Dubai/UAE.
Got it, thanks!
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Old Nov 29th 2021, 7:27 pm
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Default Re: Job in Doha, Qatar

Hi Bostonbruin. Got your PM. Might as well reply here.

There are multiple factors that go into evaluating an offer for a ME/Gulf role:

1. Compensation compared to existing compensation, or perhaps more relevant, net savings after all expenses are paid. In other words: how much more money will you have in the bank at the end of the year?
2. Is the Gulf worth the time of your life you spend there?

When you talk about taking home 10k USD per month, clear and free, does this include any 401k matching, social security contributions, and all that? Uncle Sam is not kind to American expats and once you utilise the standard overseas tax exclusion, all incomes above that amount is taxed at the income level applicable to your entire income. You also lose any 401k contributions and no social security contributions are made in your name. It's something to carefully look at as you can use 401k deductions to minimise your current taxes.

You can indicate from the above that if your current income is potentially close to 200k if you take home 120k, then you really do need to be making substantially more to justify moving to Doha on strictly economic grounds. You'd still be paying income tax on everything above 100k without any deductibles such as 401k or the American college savings plans. You do live in a low cost region (Phoenix?) while Qatar is both expensive and cheap.

To have a good quality life comparable to what you take for granted in the US, it's expensive. A 3-bed apartment on the Pearl is between 11-13k QAR a month (propertyfinder.qa), which is 3-3500 USD per month. Plus stiff utilities and internet packages on top of that. Air conditioning is not cheap. When all's said and done it's probably going to cost you closer to 4k USD a month. You can find cheaper places, a 2-bed for example, or look in West Bay which is slightly cheaper and tends to be inclusive of all utilities, but in Qatar the gap between cheap and expensive is enormous and while the cheaper places in, say, Saab or the villa compounds on the outskirts will be fine and clean and durable, it still begs the question of whether it's worth packing up and moving all the way to the Middle East to live in a dreary concrete box.

Food prices can be both cheaper or more expensive. I'm a few years out of date but for western style groceries and decent quality imported produce and meats, it was expensive. You can cheap as chips vegs and all that, but you do get what you pay for. There's nothing like the American Whole Foods or the big supermarkets in your area. It's hard to describe the differences because on the face of it, there are supermarkets and hypermarkets, but when you look more closely, the quality is just mediocre unless you really do pay for it. The "best" market is Monoprix in West Bay, which is a French supermarket chain.

Then there's entertainment. Because people are bored out of their minds in Qatar, they spend money to keep things interesting. Weekend brunches, dinners out, all sorts of events, and they come with high costs. And the expectation is that you will do this all the time, literally every weekend. You can still have a quieter life if you want to avoid spending money and the goal is to save as much as possible (is that your goal?) but this brings you back to the main question: is Qatar worth it.

A decent ballpark budget might be a thousand QAR / week for food, another thousand QAR / week for entertainment, including meals but not including brunches, a thousand QAR a week for transportation, whether taxi or hire car or monthly loan or combo of the three, then another thousand QAR for misc expenditures like a brunch, clothing, small purchases, Amazon orders from overseas. That tallies up to 16k QAR a month plus 14 QAR for rent = 30k QAR every month. This sounds about right as you don't need school fees. How much does that compare to what you spend in the US?

You can absolutely live more frugally if your goal is to save as much as possible. The numbers I use above are to indicate what it takes for a "nice" lifestyle where you don't watch the pennies too closely and want to be on the Pearl or somewhere ritzy.

I haven't even gotten into work environments and the realities of working in the Gulf. Partly because there's too much variation. I had a great working experience but others did not. I also didn't work closely with locals, but you might and it's a set of challenges in its own right. But the common observation that Gulf experience is not rewarded at home is more true than not and something to keep in mind for when you go back to the US.

Qatar is really not an endearing place. Some people do love it, most leave fairly soon because it's tiny, parochial, ugly, dull, boring, ugly, dull, boring, ugly, dull, boring, ugly.... you get the point. It is not the expat experience you find in Singapore or Hong Kong or any of the European cities. Qatar is also not Dubai by any stretch of the imagination. It's a world apart so you shouldn't be blinded by the glitzy reputation of Dubai or the high-quality amenities of the UAE (which also comes at a high cost, nonetheless). Doha is a very quiet city, it's ugly for the most part, especially once outside the very thin veneer that is the coastline, the surrounding countryside is flat dry scrublands. It is manageable for a few years if the goal is to make money and you can have a decent life if you're flexible. Sometimes it comes down entirely to finding like-minded friends, find a few families like yours and it can be a great few years. It's also a good base for travels into Asia, Thailand, the Maldives, Europe and many more (though with a newborn I don't know how much you'll be traveling). If this is your first and likely one shot at working overseas, it may be worth it for the experience and it can also be a great stepping stone to working elsewhere abroad too. It's often easier to get better expat jobs once you've had that first expat stint and it's easy to make the leap to Dubai if you find Doha too limited.

You mentioned you are in talks with the Qatari sovereign wealth fund. There's a good chance you will get a very generous offer and one that should include housing benefits among others. Get the final numbers and come back to us with the details and it's much easier to provide feedback when we are dealing with hard numbers.I did know a few people, both in Qatar and the UAE, who were making a lot of money, to put it politely, and they stuck it out because the money made it worthwhile (along with fancy holidays on a regular basis), and eventually left with a fat bank account. The tradeoff in their position was being away from family, something your wife might have difficulty with.

I made and saved a lot of money in Qatar. I do miss the money somewhat, and it wasn't a bad existence, but it was also two years of my life I'm not getting back. I don't feel the same about my years in the UAE, which I greatly enjoyed. If the offer is generous, go for it. But if you ever get tired of Doha or feel that your life is still missing something, leave Doha quickly because you'll never get that time back.






Last edited by DXBtoDOH; Nov 29th 2021 at 7:34 pm.
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