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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Qatar slips in expat quality of life rankings again


Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar has fallen seven spots in an annual survey that asks expats to assess their quality of life in different countries.

The nation is now 29th out of 45 countries in HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey 2016, down from 22nd out of 39 last year.

However, the survey has added several new countries to the index this year, and Qatar’s actual score has not changed much since 2015, the report’s authors said.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This year, expats here continue to express concerns about the rising cost of living and instability in the country’s job market.

To arrive at its findings, HSBC surveyed almost 27,000 expats living in 190 different countries in March and April this year.  Some 500 of these respondents were from Qatar.

The report presented overall rankings, as well as three separate tables based on economic concerns, what it’s like to live in each country and quality of family life.

Top five countries in each category
Top five countries in each category

Singapore ranked as the number one destination overall in the report for a second year running, while the highest ranked GCC country was Bahrain, in ninth place.

Meanwhile, Egypt and Brazil were the two poorest-scoring countries overall.

Regional financial concerns

One of the biggest challenges for Qatar this year has been “confidence in the local economy.” It fell 17 places in that category, from fourth last year to 21st now.

This is due to fears about job security, as thousands of expats have been laid off in recent months amid falling oil prices.

Al Shaheen oil field
Al Shaheen oil field

But the report added that expats in Qatar weren’t the only ones feeling this way.

All the other GCC nations listed by HSBC have also lost ground in the rankings.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia both dropped five places this year, Oman four, the UAE three and Kuwait one.

Best place to save

Qatar was also seen as a difficult place for budding entrepreneurs (32nd) and for maintaining a good work/life balance (25th.)

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But on a bright note, expats surveyed still believed that Qatar is the best country in the world to work if you want to save money.

Qatar came first in this category, and also ranked second out of 45 countries in terms of expats having disposable income and seeing opportunities for wage growth.

Poor quality of life

However, under the ‘Experience’ section of the report, which factors in perceived quality of life, culture, healthcare and relationships, the picture is far less rosy.

Rainy souq
Souq Waqif

Qatar ranked 40th out of 45 countries in this table, with particularly poor scores when it came to integrating with the local population (45th) and their physical health now compared to when they lived in their home countries (42nd.)

Many expats also said that they struggled to make friends here (40th) and concluded their overall quality of life was poor (31st.)

However, expats did say they felt very safe in Qatar (the country comes 10th out of 45 countries) and they also feel their finances are secure (12th.)

Family life

In the third and final section of the report, researchers asked respondents how they felt about bringing up their families here.

Again, Qatar scored relatively poorly, with an overall ranking of 36 out of the 45 countries listed.

The nation scored better on individual factors such as the quality of child care (15th) and family health (20th).

Souq Waqif Spring Festival 2016
Souq Waqif Spring Festival 2016

However, respondents felt that the cost of educating and entertaining their children in the country was too high, resulting in a rank of 43rd – near the bottom of the table.

Children also getting increasingly expensive to educate here.

The cost of school fees in Qatar rose 7.1 percent from June 2015 to June 2016, the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) said,  reflecting escalating rents for school buildings, and the rising cost of hiring and accommodating teachers in Qatar.

Divided families

Those questioned also felt that it was hard to be close to their spouse while in Qatar.

This may be because more companies are hiring individuals with fewer benefits, who must leave their families behind in their home countries to cut costs.

Apartments in Al Sadd
Apartment buildings in Al Sadd

Last week, Edd Brookes, general manager of real estate firm DTZ Qatar, said that many companies were now preferring to rent smaller houses and apartments for their employees:

“Housing budgets have tended to cater for individuals as opposed to family packages, as was the case a few years ago,” he said.

Another stumbling block for families could be the government requirement that employees need six months’ of pay slips before they can apply for residence permits for their spouses and children.

For full details of Qatar’s scores in the survey, you can visit the HSBC Expat Explorer website here.

Do you agree with the report’s findings? Thoughts?

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