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Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

Old Apr 24th 2020, 3:31 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

I've done time in Doha previously, until 2017. About to go back for another, hopefully longish run. I enjoyed my time there, probably because I have simple pleasures and make sure I earn enough to not let their pricing bother me, too much. Leave often is another important point though how that will play out for the next 12-18 months is somewhat of an unknown I guess. Everyone has their own expectations for income based on field, experience and various other factors. Maybe I'm greedy but I want the same, or at least very similar, within legal possibilities, lifestyle to the one I have at home (not UK). On top of that enough cash that when the job is done I don't need to think about another job for a few years.

As said 15k/month is doable, sort of, but only you can really say if you want an exercise in struggle and to survive in a place where such effort will go unrewarded and have likely no lasting positive impact on your life. Would it be better to focus somewhere else and struggle the same on perhaps even less, in the short term, to achieve a much greater reward/opportunity down track. Put simply, you need a plan, with all the variables accounted for.
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Old Apr 24th 2020, 6:13 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

Three top-tips from me:
First: Remember you're on the hook for full UK Income Tax on your worldwide earnings if you repatriate before 6th April 2022 at the earliest. Best to set the tax aside, in case things don't go to plan.
Second: Factor in a pension for you and the wife (I'd suggest 2 x 20% of your salary)
Third: Don't do it, unless you have no other option. The numbers just don't work.
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Old Apr 24th 2020, 9:42 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

Originally Posted by carcajou View Post
It's relative to your current situation.

For 15k I would not go to Qatar and I think you will struggle to hit your savings targets.

What are you on in the UK? Ultimately this is a business deal and the comparison is the key.

If you take the Qatar job you need to understand it's not forever and the rug can be pulled out from under you at any time. The ratio of number of people who stay more than two years is very low. You need to always have a "back to the UK" plan that you can dust off. Don't look at this as you're making a long-term, 10-year move because the odds are you aren't and won't make it even close to that.
I want to underline this point. It isn't like the UK in terms of due process, workplace politics and how things are done. If politics or circumstance suit, you're out a job.

I say that as somebody that (very nearly) got sacked for doing my job correctly, to a QA standard that would be expected in the UK - I submitted a (peer checked) audit report on operational readiness of a facility (which was nowhere near ready) and suddenly was 'performing poorly' and a replacement was requested.

As my agent in the country told me - contracts are warm fuzzy things they give Westerners to make them feel better.

Last edited by thebadger; Apr 24th 2020 at 9:45 am.
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Old Apr 24th 2020, 1:21 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

Originally Posted by carcajou View Post
It's relative to your current situation.

For 15k I would not go to Qatar and I think you will struggle to hit your savings targets.

What are you on in the UK? Ultimately this is a business deal and the comparison is the key.

If you take the Qatar job you need to understand it's not forever and the rug can be pulled out from under you at any time. The ratio of number of people who stay more than two years is very low. You need to always have a "back to the UK" plan that you can dust off. Don't look at this as you're making a long-term, 10-year move because the odds are you aren't and won't make it even close to that.
Yep. Doha is a shithole.It's ugly, it's dreary, it's dull. Shit food, shit shops, shit activities, shit beaches, shit locals, shit businesses, shit government that won't honour its contracts, you name it, it's shit. Outside the very thin veneer of the corniche and Pearl it's an Arab wasteland of sheer ugliness, surrounded by a dreary and ugly country. I survived two years, just barely, and only because I was netting substantial savings each month and taking holidays every chance. The money was what kept me going during those long, dreary, dull months. I would say of all the people I knew/met in my first few months in Qatar, about 90% were gone by the time I left two years later. Very few Westerners stay longer.

Having said the above, some people did seem to like living in Qatar. My fatal flaw was likely coming from the UAE where the quality in just about everything is much higher and it felt like a massive step down. Had it been the other way around I'd probably had a slightly more tolerant experience with Qatar.


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Old Apr 25th 2020, 10:04 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

I did 17 years with 4 different employers in Saudi Arabia. I lasted 2 weeks in Qatar.
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Old Apr 26th 2020, 4:15 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

There must be something about your situation/job or experienced circumstances that clearly separates us. I have spent weeks ,and on one occasion a couple of months in Saudi. The months occasion was on a British Aerospace compound. At no time did I ever feel I wanted to stay one more day than absolutely necessary, and having to go there ranks as one of the more hateful experiences of more than 30 years spent working in more than 40 countries. Only South Korea comes close. My countries list includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria and myriad other less than ideal work environments though does also include Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Fiji and other bits of the Pacific and a large swathe of the Caribbean.

Wanting to bow out from a life of near constant long haul to something that would be a little more sedate whilst still allowing me to do what I enjoy I took a job in Qatar and where overall I felt very happy. Not perfect by a long stretch but the ability to hit UK or my home in Thailand with essentially a 6 hour flight at any time was quite the bonus and the money was definitely "satisfying!".

I'm sure its possible to be comfortable in Saudi, and equally, seriously bugged by Qatar. Doha is certainly a dull and depressing place, or can be, and well equipped with a mountain of pretentious twats, of all nationalities and ethnicity, but as you I guess found with Saudi I think it is what you make of it. Compared to my former experiences all ME places including the jewel that is apparently Dubai all seem a bit, Meh.

I'm certainly looking forward to another round of Qatar as soon as immigration allows. Money will be a bit less this time but no less "satisfying".
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Old Apr 26th 2020, 7:07 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

More to do with British Aerospace than KSA I think
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Old Apr 26th 2020, 10:51 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
More to do with British Aerospace than KSA I think
Yeah, could well be, though that was only one of the trips there.
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Old Apr 26th 2020, 11:04 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

Originally Posted by martinbkk View Post
I'm certainly looking forward to another round of Qatar as soon as immigration allows. Money will be a bit less this time but no less "satisfying".
I think that is the point . . . my advice to OP would be different if the salary he was offered was satisfying. At 15k, it is not, and he will struggle. At least from my perspective.
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Old Apr 26th 2020, 11:46 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

So many replies gues I don't really know where to start and don't have time to answer all of them. However, the gist of them (in relation to my question) is that 15K will not be enough if I am trying to save 10K.

I, of course, do not want to live like a king but at the same time don't want to live too frugal. With the above comments in mind I guess I'll have to negotiate to 20k. Any higher, and the employer may be put off. They ARE also providing transport allowance, phone allowance, rental allowance and I believe flight allowance too (as well as healthcare).

If we're talking strictly about living costs, on the basis that there are various allowances paid already (rental, transport, etc.) what would be a good amount of money to live off of in Qatar? Like, what number would be good to allocate towards living specifically (i.e. groceries, occasional holiday, eating out 2-3 times a week, cinema once a week)?

Just a quick edit: my wife and I don't mind that it is dull and boring as most people have said as living away from home will be new for both of us and we will really enjoy just getting to know each other better and building our relationship whilst we're here.

Last edited by Aceizbad; Apr 26th 2020 at 11:49 am.
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Old Apr 26th 2020, 1:59 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

Never lived in Qatar, only in Saudi, but probably fairly comparable. Lived with Mrs and two kids with all costs paid, and for food, shopping and going out was about 6-8k a month. We lived very well on that too. Obviously no bars to go to , or not real ones anyway.
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Old Apr 26th 2020, 2:39 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

Originally Posted by Aceizbad View Post
So many replies gues I don't really know where to start and don't have time to answer all of them. However, the gist of them (in relation to my question) is that 15K will not be enough if I am trying to save 10K.

I, of course, do not want to live like a king but at the same time don't want to live too frugal. With the above comments in mind I guess I'll have to negotiate to 20k. Any higher, and the employer may be put off. They ARE also providing transport allowance, phone allowance, rental allowance and I believe flight allowance too (as well as healthcare).

If we're talking strictly about living costs, on the basis that there are various allowances paid already (rental, transport, etc.) what would be a good amount of money to live off of in Qatar? Like, what number would be good to allocate towards living specifically (i.e. groceries, occasional holiday, eating out 2-3 times a week, cinema once a week)?

Just a quick edit: my wife and I don't mind that it is dull and boring as most people have said as living away from home will be new for both of us and we will really enjoy just getting to know each other better and building our relationship whilst we're here.
How long is a piece of string? Ok, let's assume you do all your shopping at Carrefour, eat a simple diet, eat out only at cheaper ethnic places (there's some decent Korean places in Sadd/Bin Mahmoud), never going to brunches or even bars, I'd say you'd struggle to spend any less than 1k a week between the two of you. It's the creep of little purchases that makes it difficult to stick to budgets. You can probably manage to stick to 1k but not less than that.
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Old Apr 28th 2020, 9:59 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

I would say with the Middle East, don't do it unless it is going to be worth your while.

If you want to sample working abroad, there are plenty places far more attractive than the Middle East. As somebody else said - it's a turd rolled in glitter.

All I got out my Middle East experience was frustration, bitterness and really became quite racist by the British definition of the word. That would be fine if I was adequately compensated - I wasn't. Talking to Western Ex-Pats, many echoed this sentiment.

My naivety was that I didn't realise how much you have to re-calibrate your brain when going out to the Middle East, both with money, attitudes, culture, things to do, work life, etc. At first impression you don't realise it, but after a couple of months you do.

If I was to go back out there, the low ball number of monthly wage would be starting with a 3. As a couple you could easily blow £500 in a weekend entertaining yourselves, and doing nothing out of the ordinary (by British standards) in spending that. Every time you do something to entertain yourself, you spend £100.

My lifestyle in the UK was golf, motor sport, pub for a few 2-3 times a week, 1 big night out a month and eating out once a week. Even taking the motor sport out of that, I couldn't afford that lifestyle on 15k - and save money. I was better off in the UK.

That 15k a month translate to about £3300 a month, but in reality by the time you factor in the exchange rate looking more appealing that it does historically (only a factor if you're sending money back to UK - as said 1000 riyal is 1000 riyal, regardless if the exchange rate to sterling is 4.5 or 5.5) , and the premium costs of the middle east - it probably translates to about the equivalent of having a £1750-2000 take home in the UK.

Last edited by thebadger; Apr 28th 2020 at 11:03 am.
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Old Apr 28th 2020, 10:48 am
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

One of the illnesses I observed in some expats in Saudi was the conviction that they could live on nothing and remit their entire salary - or 95 percent of it. They would spend nothing, steal toilet paper and teabags. Imagine what living like that will do to you long term. You have to be good yourself !
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Old Apr 28th 2020, 5:04 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Qatar, should I renegotiate my salary package?

I can only speak to a single UK perspective though I have observed similarities in other European nationalities and Mericans so maybe there is a common thread and at first I had trouble with it and had to try in my own mind to figure out what was going on. I started traveling for work at around age 26, 2 weeks in Karachi gets the culture shock over and done with, then 10 days in Athens, then 3 weeks in Trinidad, and on and on for the next 30 years or so. I think a lot of people go to the Middle East right from a half life spent just in the UK barring 2 week pseudo millionaire holiday lifestyles wherever. I think that's a bad experience for a Middle East life in general, not that some don't adapt but adaptation is required. Maybe for some its any port in a storm, but that suggests a whole different set of issues.

In no particular order my list of essentials would be:

1. Double my UK gross salary, it might sound ridiculous but it soon becomes a minimum. You need to live as normal a life as reasonable to stay sane.
2. There are no guarantees but I want to get a warm fuzzy feeling that this is a contract that will realistically last for say 2 years minimum. Anything less would seem pointless for the hassle involved. That 2 years will zip by.
3. Loading the contract as heavily as possible to basic salary. I don't know about all the various possibilities but from my own experience only basic salary is used to calculate gratuity. That 20,000 housing allowance might sound sweet but will not count for much when the end of service payout is half what you might otherwise expect.
4. Know where you are going. I took my first Qatar contract having previously spent several 1 and 2 week visits there. These were working trips so devoid of the rose tinted specs in the main.
5. Realise that no matter how highfalutin the job title sounds foreigners in the Middle East, no matter their ethnicity are all essentially indentured servants,just some more so than others.
6. Be sure that when the hammer does fall you have enough to kick back for 12-18-24 months back home without a great concern.
7. Be wary as anything if you have even the slightest concerns for your own mental well being. Any history of depression should just tell you to stay away, you really need to be quite the reverse.
8. Leave often (see number 1)
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