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Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Old Dec 17th 2014, 7:30 pm
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Default Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

This Forum has been a great inspiration for me and I hope that it will help us as we are planning to move as a newbie to the Middle East. I would greatly appreciate input from Qatar Residents as I am bewildered at this point. I have an offer to move to Doha, Qatar from US at a Senior Financial Management Role but despite my repeated requests I am being offered an all in all lump sum package of QAR 44K/PM and I would greatly appreciate any feedback and experience from Western Expats residing in Qatar. I have 2 kids in elementary schools who will be moving with me to Qatar. I have been offered a monthly compensation package of 44K QAR/PM inclusive of everything plus 1 month year end bonus. The only additional thing offered by the employer is Family Health Insurance plus the initial mobilization flight for family with some mobilzation cost covered. In your experience is it an OK package for me to move with the family to Qatar and do some savings as I would need pay for the lodging and kids schooling myself. We are not a lavishly spending family and prefer to live a modest lifestyle.
I am a newbie at this forum but I sincerely hope that your help will also enable me to one day help our forum fellows.

Cheers
POB
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Old Dec 17th 2014, 8:40 pm
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Welcome to BE and good luck!

One thing that might be different to most folks on BE, as you're moving from the US, would be having to deal with the IRS. All depends on if you're a US citizen, greencard holder, or how long you've been in the US, but chances are, you'll have at least one filing for the IRS and probably a few years worth, so you don't want to get slammed with taxes if Qatar doesn't have a tax treaty with the US, plus all the faff of dealing with FBAR and FATCA.
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Old Dec 18th 2014, 3:08 am
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Welcome to BE and good luck!

One thing that might be different to most folks on BE, as you're moving from the US, would be having to deal with the IRS. All depends on if you're a US citizen, greencard holder, or how long you've been in the US, but chances are, you'll have at least one filing for the IRS and probably a few years worth, so you don't want to get slammed with taxes if Qatar doesn't have a tax treaty with the US, plus all the faff of dealing with FBAR and FATCA.
Bob,
Greatly appreciate your assistance and feedback. I am a US Citizen so I would need to report and pay taxes for all income above US$100,000/year as per IRS. So i figure some taxes on that as well. I would really appreciate if you could shed some light on the living expenses in Qatar in general.

Thanks Indeed,
POB.
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Old Dec 18th 2014, 4:28 am
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

I live in Abu Dhabi but I'm considering moving to Doha and so have been looking into costs and talking to people I know. What I have found out so far is that You can get a decent Villa for around 15000 riyals a month and kids schooling would be around 4500 riyals each a month and so you would be spending 24,000 a month if you don't send your kids to the most expensive schools.

On top of that you would need at least one car maybe two if you need to take one to work, also the tax you would have to pay as mentioned above. Food shopping is not cheap if you want things you recognize as there is huge import taxes added and your kids will no doubt want to join clubs of some sort.

So in short the money you have been offered would by no means be a show stopper but it will be quite tight especially if you want to take trips back to the US to see family etc.

Also I have heard that rent of properties will increase over the next few years because of the world cup going to Doha in 2022.

If you can I would try and negotiate for a bit more.
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Old Dec 18th 2014, 5:35 am
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

And not forgetting that Doha is a shit hole. I was offered a job there earlier this year but point blank refused. Dubai is tolerable but whenever I visit Doha on business I dread the prospect even if it's only for the day.
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Old Dec 18th 2014, 7:07 pm
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Originally Posted by qatarliving View Post
Bob,
Greatly appreciate your assistance and feedback. I am a US Citizen so I would need to report and pay taxes for all income above US$100,000/year as per IRS. So i figure some taxes on that as well. I would really appreciate if you could shed some light on the living expenses in Qatar in general.

Thanks Indeed,
POB.
Well you've also got FBAR for any account that's had a balance over $10K and FATCA for any assets/accounts over $100K.

The $100K figure for income tax is with dual tax treaty countries I thought, so would want to double check that that applies.
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Old Dec 18th 2014, 8:42 pm
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Originally Posted by mentalist View Post
And not forgetting that Doha is a shit hole. I was offered a job there earlier this year but point blank refused. Dubai is tolerable but whenever I visit Doha on business I dread the prospect even if it's only for the day.
Can you please clarify what you mean and possibly your experience. It will indeed greatly help a newbie before getting into troubled waters.
Appreciate your help.

Thank You,
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Old Dec 18th 2014, 8:44 pm
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Originally Posted by Jimmy B View Post
I live in Abu Dhabi but I'm considering moving to Doha and so have been looking into costs and talking to people I know. What I have found out so far is that You can get a decent Villa for around 15000 riyals a month and kids schooling would be around 4500 riyals each a month and so you would be spending 24,000 a month if you don't send your kids to the most expensive schools.

On top of that you would need at least one car maybe two if you need to take one to work, also the tax you would have to pay as mentioned above. Food shopping is not cheap if you want things you recognize as there is huge import taxes added and your kids will no doubt want to join clubs of some sort.

So in short the money you have been offered would by no means be a show stopper but it will be quite tight especially if you want to take trips back to the US to see family etc.

Also I have heard that rent of properties will increase over the next few years because of the world cup going to Doha in 2022.

If you can I would try and negotiate for a bit more.
Jimmy,
Thanks indeed for your valuable input. In terms of the renting I have come across different websites (e.g. qatarliving.com classifieds) where the renting is quoted for a 2 bed apartment and villa in the ball park of 10K-12K QAR.
Do you think it is a reasonable guess. I am not longing for anything fancy but just to get going.
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Old Dec 20th 2014, 4:23 am
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Personally, I wouldn't move to Qatar for an all inclusive 44k a month.

I spent two years in Dubai with the family (wife and two elementary age kids) - from early 2011 to early 2013. The money was good (far better than what I was earning in the UK) but it was fairly expensive to live there. Despite the temptations, we adopted a modest lifestyle albeit more refreshing than the UK, in the hope that we would save some pennies but we couldn't save much primarily due to the reasons that the kids education was fairly expensive, as well, their off-school activities. The accommodation was expensive and the more affordable options/neighborhoods weren't very appealing. You would make a few friends and maintaing a social life would bite into the savings as well. Our daily household expenditure was around AED 100 plus a monthly Costco like trip was around AED 1800. Entertainment I.e. Family weekends used to be between 300-1000 a week - sometimes more. I leased a shitty SUV for 3500 per month for the wife to do the school runs, and even a more shittier saloon for AED 2500, for my office chores. The gas expense, for both vehicles, never exceeded AED 700 per month. I think we paid around AED 300 per month for satellite TV and the Internet. The cell phone bill for myself and wife was around 700 per month. Oh btw, I rented a two bedroom apartment in JBR (you can google it, it's a nice place - better than the Pearl in Doha) for around 8700 a month including utilities. The family medical was included in my Dubai package, as well, annual family return tickets to the UK, and around 15% annual bonus.

Life was ok albeit without a decent savings, and then I recieved an offer to move to the US. After much thought, I accepted the offer and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. The salary was slightly less than what I was earning in Dubai, and I was obviously anxious that I am now taking a pay cut and would have to pay taxes on my income but still wanted to try this option as I could always move back to Dubai.

I have now been here in the US for nearly two years, and family and I got the PR (Green card) a couple of months ago. I live in one of the better/desirable neighborhoods in the SF Bay Area. My kids go to one of the best school districts in California and it's all free!! My rent is extrotinate - bizarrely it is more than what I use to pay in Dubai; however, despite living in the third most expensive city in the US, and paying an arm and a leg in rent due to the better school district, as well, paying portion of the medical insurance for family out of pocket, and state and federal taxes on my income, I am saving more in the US than what I was saving in the middle east. Also, the culture is familiar, the people are fantastic. I don't fear everyday that if I upset an Arab than what would happen to me - loads of crazy drivers here as well though but not as bad as Doha or the joy riders of SZR in Dubai . Wife and I are now driving slightly better cars without breaking the bank or taking loans, and my family has settled in well here. When I look back, Dubai seems like a fantastic extended holiday, and I'm glad that we went through the experience.

Now, I am again receiving offers from the Middle East. This time more from Doha than Dubai/UAE. I have just evaluated a recent job offer so thought I'll give you my two cents particularly around why I think 44k all inclusive is not a great offer. I have received an offer to work for a global US firm for QAR 55k basic, plus the education allowance for up to 3 kids that actually covers the British school fee so it's good albeit not good enough if I want to send my children to the Doha American school. Also, business class return tickets for family, as well, the family medicaland a potential performance bonus of around 20% of my base salary.

The above offer is attractive, slightly more than what I earn here in the US - in terms of gross. Whilst, it will surely give my income around 30% tax free boost, I don't think it will be enough and am most likely to end up like the situation I encountered earlier in Dubai I.e. Not much savings. Again the reasons are same, you will spend more on school fees and related expenses plus the accomodation in Doha is extremely expensive - 14k per month would get you a 2 bed apt or around 16k a month for a half decent villa somewhere in the compounds. The cost of living is expensive I.e you will see an increase of around 30 to 40% on what you may be spending on the household expenses in the US. If the annual tickets are not included then flying back home expense would take a nice chunk out of your projected savings. It is extremely difficult to get your children enrolled in one of the better schools there - still the quality of education is not as good as in the US or UK, and you pay a lot of money for the rookie teachers who wanted an extra beer out in the middle east. Doha is not Dubai and the life is fairly dull over there but that could be a good thing from the savings perspective. The culture is entirely different in the middle east and you would have to have bucket loads of patience and persevarance to survive out there. The life at work is laid back and not like the crazy hours that you end up doing in the US so you may enjoy that aspect of the life in Doha. I'd say that do your calculations properly, and if you want to have an extended holiday in the middle east then go for it but don't get yourself into any financial commitments/debts out there. Get advise around the tax implications and do a dummy tax return exercise to figure your actual net income.

All the best, and I hope above helps

Last edited by McZaki; Dec 20th 2014 at 5:14 am.
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Old Dec 20th 2014, 10:32 am
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

In short, NO. This is,IMHO, not good enough.Not worth it to come to Qatar.
Plus, getting kids into decent schools here is very, very difficult.

IF you have a decent job/life where you are, then I would not put myself in this situation.

If the amount you posted was your basic, then it would be ok.
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Old Dec 20th 2014, 7:28 pm
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Originally Posted by McZaki View Post
Personally, I wouldn't move to Qatar for an all inclusive 44k a month.

I spent two years in Dubai with the family (wife and two elementary age kids) - from early 2011 to early 2013. The money was good (far better than what I was earning in the UK) but it was fairly expensive to live there. Despite the temptations, we adopted a modest lifestyle albeit more refreshing than the UK, in the hope that we would save some pennies but we couldn't save much primarily due to the reasons that the kids education was fairly expensive, as well, their off-school activities. The accommodation was expensive and the more affordable options/neighborhoods weren't very appealing. You would make a few friends and maintaing a social life would bite into the savings as well. Our daily household expenditure was around AED 100 plus a monthly Costco like trip was around AED 1800. Entertainment I.e. Family weekends used to be between 300-1000 a week - sometimes more. I leased a shitty SUV for 3500 per month for the wife to do the school runs, and even a more shittier saloon for AED 2500, for my office chores. The gas expense, for both vehicles, never exceeded AED 700 per month. I think we paid around AED 300 per month for satellite TV and the Internet. The cell phone bill for myself and wife was around 700 per month. Oh btw, I rented a two bedroom apartment in JBR (you can google it, it's a nice place - better than the Pearl in Doha) for around 8700 a month including utilities. The family medical was included in my Dubai package, as well, annual family return tickets to the UK, and around 15% annual bonus.

Life was ok albeit without a decent savings, and then I recieved an offer to move to the US. After much thought, I accepted the offer and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. The salary was slightly less than what I was earning in Dubai, and I was obviously anxious that I am now taking a pay cut and would have to pay taxes on my income but still wanted to try this option as I could always move back to Dubai.

I have now been here in the US for nearly two years, and family and I got the PR (Green card) a couple of months ago. I live in one of the better/desirable neighborhoods in the SF Bay Area. My kids go to one of the best school districts in California and it's all free!! My rent is extrotinate - bizarrely it is more than what I use to pay in Dubai; however, despite living in the third most expensive city in the US, and paying an arm and a leg in rent due to the better school district, as well, paying portion of the medical insurance for family out of pocket, and state and federal taxes on my income, I am saving more in the US than what I was saving in the middle east. Also, the culture is familiar, the people are fantastic. I don't fear everyday that if I upset an Arab than what would happen to me - loads of crazy drivers here as well though but not as bad as Doha or the joy riders of SZR in Dubai . Wife and I are now driving slightly better cars without breaking the bank or taking loans, and my family has settled in well here. When I look back, Dubai seems like a fantastic extended holiday, and I'm glad that we went through the experience.

Now, I am again receiving offers from the Middle East. This time more from Doha than Dubai/UAE. I have just evaluated a recent job offer so thought I'll give you my two cents particularly around why I think 44k all inclusive is not a great offer. I have received an offer to work for a global US firm for QAR 55k basic, plus the education allowance for up to 3 kids that actually covers the British school fee so it's good albeit not good enough if I want to send my children to the Doha American school. Also, business class return tickets for family, as well, the family medicaland a potential performance bonus of around 20% of my base salary.

The above offer is attractive, slightly more than what I earn here in the US - in terms of gross. Whilst, it will surely give my income around 30% tax free boost, I don't think it will be enough and am most likely to end up like the situation I encountered earlier in Dubai I.e. Not much savings. Again the reasons are same, you will spend more on school fees and related expenses plus the accomodation in Doha is extremely expensive - 14k per month would get you a 2 bed apt or around 16k a month for a half decent villa somewhere in the compounds. The cost of living is expensive I.e you will see an increase of around 30 to 40% on what you may be spending on the household expenses in the US. If the annual tickets are not included then flying back home expense would take a nice chunk out of your projected savings. It is extremely difficult to get your children enrolled in one of the better schools there - still the quality of education is not as good as in the US or UK, and you pay a lot of money for the rookie teachers who wanted an extra beer out in the middle east. Doha is not Dubai and the life is fairly dull over there but that could be a good thing from the savings perspective. The culture is entirely different in the middle east and you would have to have bucket loads of patience and persevarance to survive out there. The life at work is laid back and not like the crazy hours that you end up doing in the US so you may enjoy that aspect of the life in Doha. I'd say that do your calculations properly, and if you want to have an extended holiday in the middle east then go for it but don't get yourself into any financial commitments/debts out there. Get advise around the tax implications and do a dummy tax return exercise to figure your actual net income.

All the best, and I hope above helps
Thanks a million for the very informative and valuable info. Do you think it is relatively easy in Qatar to switch jobs. Do you possibly have any experience or information on it. As u rightly said my main concern is the accommodation and schooling.
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Old Dec 20th 2014, 9:00 pm
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Originally Posted by qatarliving View Post
Thanks a million for the very informative and valuable info. Do you think it is relatively easy in Qatar to switch jobs. Do you possibly have any experience or information on it. As u rightly said my main concern is the accommodation and schooling.
It is not straightforward to switch jobs in Qatar. You would need a "No Objection Certificate" from the previous employer to work for another employer. Whilst they may issue you one, it's unlikely that after spending money on visas and your re-location they would issue one within the first 12 to 18months - even then I think you have to formally exit the country and re-enter on the visa under your new employer/sponsor, and sometimes getting this piece done can take up to 6 months.

Also, do your research on the company. Ask your prospective boss or HR rep how many westerners are working in your company. Importantly, ask the HR questions around would they be arranging the multiple exit/entry visa for you and how long would it take them to help you get visas for your family - generally, for the Americans and Brits, multiple exit/re-entry stamp on the passport is the norm but you don't wana be in a situation where a shoddy employer is restricting your ability to exit/re-enter the country. I don't know if they still do that but Qatar companies used to keep the passport of their foreign employees with them, and used to give a copy of the employent card a bit like the EAD in the States and whenever you have to leave the country, for business or pleasure, you had to inform the HR, they then had to get an exit/re-entry visa for you, and then used to return your passport - I used to find this whole practice very uncomfortable - Saudi companies still do that. Maybe someone living or recently moved to Qatar can confirm if the Qatari employers still hold the passport of foreign employees.

School expense and renting will be biggest expenditure. Google the schools, the fees are published on their websites - also, call them to check the availability. Ask your wife to kick-off a thread on the Expat Women website to get firsthand feedback on the quality of the schools. Check Dubizzle website for the rentals. It is better to use a rental agent particularly when you're a newbie in the Middle East - you will be a local expert within 6 to 9 months ... I have used "Better Homes" in the UAE to help me find an appropriate rental property, and they were ok- you would have to pay their commission though which is slightly higher than the norm but they are a well established company in the mainstream Middle East.

Last edited by McZaki; Dec 20th 2014 at 9:04 pm.
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Old Dec 20th 2014, 10:30 pm
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Originally Posted by McZaki View Post
It is not straightforward to switch jobs in Qatar. You would need a "No Objection Certificate" from the previous employer to work for another employer. Whilst they may issue you one, it's unlikely that after spending money on visas and your re-location they would issue one within the first 12 to 18months - even then I think you have to formally exit the country and re-enter on the visa under your new employer/sponsor, and sometimes getting this piece done can take up to 6 months.

Also, do your research on the company. Ask your prospective boss or HR rep how many westerners are working in your company. Importantly, ask the HR questions around would they be arranging the multiple exit/entry visa for you and how long would it take them to help you get visas for your family - generally, for the Americans and Brits, multiple exit/re-entry stamp on the passport is the norm but you don't wana be in a situation where a shoddy employer is restricting your ability to exit/re-enter the country. I don't know if they still do that but Qatar companies used to keep the passport of their foreign employees with them, and used to give a copy of the employent card a bit like the EAD in the States and whenever you have to leave the country, for business or pleasure, you had to inform the HR, they then had to get an exit/re-entry visa for you, and then used to return your passport - I used to find this whole practice very uncomfortable - Saudi companies still do that. Maybe someone living or recently moved to Qatar can confirm if the Qatari employers still hold the passport of foreign employees.

School expense and renting will be biggest expenditure. Google the schools, the fees are published on their websites - also, call them to check the availability. Ask your wife to kick-off a thread on the Expat Women website to get firsthand feedback on the quality of the schools. Check Dubizzle website for the rentals. It is better to use a rental agent particularly when you're a newbie in the Middle East - you will be a local expert within 6 to 9 months ... I have used "Better Homes" in the UAE to help me find an appropriate rental property, and they were ok- you would have to pay their commission though which is slightly higher than the norm but they are a well established company in the mainstream Middle East.
Again thanks for the great information. I have been told by the HR upon my inquiring about the Exit/Entry Visas I have been told that I would need to obtain an exit visa each time I would need to leave Qatar and it could take 6-7 days for the process before the exit. Not knowing the rules and the terminology does this mean I would get the entry/exit visa stamped In the passport or would it need to be at the discretion of the employer. Would you also by any chance know if there are certain rights of US Citizens in terms of Qatar rules and regulations (like the entry/exit procedure and to hold the passports of US Citizens). Your experience is a great help for me and my family in this time of dire need and is steering us in the right direction.
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Old Dec 21st 2014, 3:01 am
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Originally Posted by qatarliving View Post
Again thanks for the great information. I have been told by the HR upon my inquiring about the Exit/Entry Visas I have been told that I would need to obtain an exit visa each time I would need to leave Qatar and it could take 6-7 days for the process before the exit. Not knowing the rules and the terminology does this mean I would get the entry/exit visa stamped In the passport or would it need to be at the discretion of the employer. Would you also by any chance know if there are certain rights of US Citizens in terms of Qatar rules and regulations (like the entry/exit procedure and to hold the passports of US Citizens). Your experience is a great help for me and my family in this time of dire need and is steering us in the right direction.
Regarding the exit/entry visa piece, well the way it works is that whenever you are leaving Qatar - whether on business travel or vacation, you must have the official "exit /re-entry" stamp on your passport. The immigration officer at the port of exit e.g. Doha airport will check this stamp ensuring you are "cleared" to exit. If you don't have this stamp then the immigration officer won't let you exit the country. Your employers/sponsor can only get this "exit/re-entry" for you so you're really at the mercy of the HR of your company to get this done for you, and they don't initiate the process unless your boss has approved the PTO. This pathetic system is one of the reasons I never accepted jobs in Doha before despite getting very decent offers to work there. I am only considering the latest offer because it's a US firm and many colleagues are western and they all get multiple exit/re-entry visas, as well, the firm allow them to keep their passports.

As for what rights you have as an Amercian, well you don't have any! This may sound very negative but generally companies/employers here don't mess around with the Amercians but you should be prepared to accept the fact that you are in a foreign land and they have their own laws just like any other country in the world. If you don't mess with the law, and the local Arabs then you will not have any problems.

P.S: It seems your prospective employer will get the "exit/re-entry" visa for every trip you make separately so it is not a multiple "exit/re-entry" which is usually valid for 6 months and upon expiration the HR apply a new one. Not having the multiple visa really restricts your ability to travel in case of a personal emergency.

Last edited by McZaki; Dec 21st 2014 at 3:07 am.
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Old Dec 21st 2014, 8:14 am
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Default Re: Please HELP for QATAR!!! Moving from USA

Exit Visa is the dumbest idea ever , I just wish that other GCC countries won't make this the standard procedure for expats .
as for holding the passport , I think that is just bullshit ,
no one has the right to keep your passport , I know its the ME and all but I never wrapped my mind around that , thats why I will never ever be in Qatar or any other country that would require an "exit visa" or where you have no rights at all even keeping your own passport with you ...
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