Qatar is an independent emirate located on a small, barren peninsula on the north eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar, similar to other trucial states like Bahrain and the seven sheikhdoms of the United Arab Emirates, attained nation state status after becoming a British protectorate in 1916. The treaty ended shortly before the country declared independence in 1971.
Despite its small size, Qatar is a regional powerhouse. It has the highest per capita income in the world at $124,927, almost tripled that of the United Kingdom ($43,620). Qatar also owns the planet’s third highest oil and natural gas reserve, behind Russia and Iran.
The country is considered to be the most advanced in the region, and has a very stable socioeconomic and political climate owing in no small measure to a defence pact it signed with the United States in 1994.
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Qatar has an incredibly strange demographic, in that, 2.3 million of its 2.6 million population are immigrants. That’s right, Qataris only make up 12% of the population. The largest ethnic groups in the country are South Indians (60%), followed by Filipinos (10%) and Egyptians (8%). The remaining 10% consists mainly of oil executives and their family from a couple dozen nations.
Qatar utilises a sponsorship system for foreign workers called Kafala. Under this system, every employee (and family members, if any) must be sponsored by a local individual or company for the duration of their employment. Kafala attracts a fair bit of controversy as sponsors hold an inordinate amount of power over employees. It is not unheard of for sponsors to engineer the exit of employees in order to avoid paying their wages.
Another quirk of Kafala is the exit visa. Employees must obtain an exit visa before they are allowed to leave the country, and the exit visa can only be granted by employers. Most companies however, provide at least one exit visa annually.
Like all Middle Eastern countries, Qatar adheres to a strict interpretation of Islam. However, non-Muslim expatriates are accorded wider social freedom, and consumption of alcohol in hotels and homes are allowed. A certain leeway is also given for attires, but women should not wear clothing which exposes their shoulder and dresses and skirts should never go above the knee.
The minimum requirement for foreign teachers in Qatar is a Bachelor’s degree and two years’ worth of teaching experience. Graduates from computer science or related field are usually given preference. For English teachers, an accredited English as a second language teaching certification is required.
U.S. accredited private schools are known to have a higher requirement threshold, and the cream of the crop tend to gravitate there.
Qualified foreign teachers in Qatar should earn a minimum of 15,000 Rial a month (around £3,100). Highly qualified and experienced teachers, particularly in senior positions, can easily earn double that.
Major schools offer foreign teachers with furnished apartments, yearly round-trip tickets, basic health insurance and six-week annual vacation.
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