Qatar is apparently a more favorable expat destination for women than men, a new survey of more than 14,000 expats living in 195 countries has found.
According to the Expat Insider Survey 2015, carried out by networking website Internations, Qatar ranked nine spots ahead in terms of general satisfaction for female versus male expats – 45th overall, versus 54th for men.
The survey does not specify why, but suggested that men were more likely to criticize the cost of living, and that women may find it somewhat easier to settle in.
Overall, Qatar remains relatively unpopular among global expats, despite rising four places in the rankings to 54th out of the 64 countries listed, compared to 58th out of 61 nations in last year’s survey.
The top three countries to live in this year were Ecuador, Mexico and Malta. The bottom three were Nigeria, Greece and Kuwait.
All survey respondents were quizzed on key areas like quality of life, ease of settling in, working life, ease of family life and cost of living.
In Qatar, the top three nationalities of expats questioned were from India (16 percent of respondents), the Philippines (15 percent) and the UK (11 percent.)
Construction was the main industry employing respondents, followed by education and business services.
Whilst the preference of female versus male expats for Qatar is notable, both sexes still put the country far down the global rankings, at 45th for women and 54th for men.
By contrast, neighboring UAE ranks very highly for women.
It came in 13th, beating, among others, the USA and all Scandinavian countries, with women working there saying they find it relatively easy to settle in and that they are satisfied with their career prospects.
Qatar is further down the list for overall satisfaction due to a low ranking in several key areas, most notably family life (38 out of 41 countries), ease of settling in (51 out of 64) and quality of life (56 out of 64).
It does however rank relatively highly on ease of finding work abroad (29 of 64) and for financial benefits (also 29 or 64.)
‘Peaceful, but boring’
The Expat Insider country report for Qatar concludes that the country is “peaceful, but boring.”
It highlighted an apparent lack of leisure activities as one reason for its poor performance in the Quality of Life Index.
Less than half of the expats in Qatar (46 percent) considered available leisure activities to be good overall, compared to 75 percent of expats globally.
One anonymous expat quoted in the report states that “there’s little to do here other than shopping, which appears to be the primary pastime.”
Furthermore, Qatar’s roads and other transportation options come in for criticism, with 46 percent saying they are unhappy with the status quo, twice as many as the global percentage of 23 percent.
Long hours, separated families
According to the report, the average working week in Qatar is among the longest in the region at 46.3 hours.
That’s higher than the global average of 42 hours a week and ahead of regional neighbors like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which last 45.6 hours and 44.8 hours, respectively.
Qatar’s latest population figures show that out of a total tally of around two million people, only one in four is female, a ratio that has remained constant for years.
Perhaps reflecting this skewed figure, the report said that while 64 percent of expats in Qatar are in a relationship, around 30 percent of those people were in long-distance relationships, compared to a global average of 14 percent.
Qatar also ranked fairly poorly in terms of the cost of living, at 46th out of 64 countries, but still came ahead of more popular expat destinations like Australia and the UK.
Few local friends
Like last year, the report continued to highlight the divide between expats and locals in Qatar.
It states that just under half (49 percent) of the expats surveyed in Qatar found the local population to be friendly, compared to a global average of 72 percent of expats who rated the friendliness of nationals in their host countries.
Moreover, 36 percent said they’d found it hard getting used to the local culture, and 43 percent said that they didn’t feel at home in Qatar, compared to a global average of 61 percent.
Furthermore, half of all expats questioned also said that it was particularly hard to make friends with Qatari citizens, although the report notes that this may be due to the fact that Qatari nationals make up only 15 percent of the country’s total population.
On the positive side, almost two-thirds (65 percent) said that language barriers were not an issue in Qatar.
Do the findings jive with your experiences here? Thoughts?