Is Qatar still a land of opportunity for the expat?

There have been a lot of recent headlines about staff cutbacks across the Gulf and in particular here in Qatar, and as recruitment professionals we're often asked about where the hiring activity is these days. Whilst one cannot escape the impact of the drop in oil price - even on social occasions we find ourselves surrounded by self-proclaimed experts forecasting what's going to happen next - the country still has a long way to go to be ready to host the football World Cup in 2022, and this means jobs!
Personally I've been surprised to what extent the impact the drop in oil price has had on all industries, even those which seem far removed from a rig and a barrel. One expects job cuts with the oil companies themselves, and many based in Qatar have not escaped. Reduced oil revenues then in turn impact the construction sector, as government funds and investment on infrastructure is scaled back. The Telecoms sector has also felt a significant bump in the road with Vodafone and Ooredoo making staffing cuts in Doha, despite Ooredoo Group's revenue reaching nearly QR8bn in the first quarter of 2016.

So just who is hiring?

The transport sector obviously benefits from cheaper fuel prices. Qatar Airways continues to take global market share by launching new flight destinations across the world, and in turn hiring staff locally and internationally. Healthcare is another sector that has received significant investment from the government, with 7 new hospitals to be opened by the end of 2017 and three new facilities opening sooner at Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City, a QR2.4 billion medical complex. 
Meanwhile regional businesses are slowly becoming aware of the need for corporate governance, as the rest of the world watches Qatar ever more closely and its international brand presence continues to rise. We have seen many firms recruit to build up and strengthen the quality of their internal audit departments. Security, both of an IT and Physical nature continues to create jobs. Recent hacking scares have caused banks to look at their IT set up and tighten virtual security, creating a pressing need for technology professionals with a background in IT security. 
CCTV and other physical surveillance equipment, running into multi-million dollar projects with years to run, is being implemented across new malls and other new age buildings initially designed and started in the '$120-a-barrel days'. Similar projects are underway with the new network of tunnels & railways, and of course not to forget the 8 stadia aiming to be completed by 2020. A weak Euro and a declining Pound mean those with tax free dollars still sense a huge opportunity for European investment, with real estate remaining a favourite asset class amongst Qataris. In the finance sector QInvest's strong annual results for 2015 hinting at further growth and QNB building up their asset management division are examples of how this directly impacts the job market in a positive way. 
Lastly the much awaited openings of 'Mall of Qatar' and 'Festival City' towards the end of 2016, along with another half dozen or so smaller malls across the country, will mean a significant amount of hiring across the retail, entertainment, hospitality and food & beverage industries. This recruitment push will attract professionals from major retail centres in the region, such as Dubai Mall or The Avenues in Kuwait, as well as the European retail centres like London and Paris.

What about salaries?

Much like 2009, those new to the market need to be realistic about the salaries that can be obtained and not benchmark from others already here, while those on “pre oil price dip” packages need to realize that grass is not always greener; their focus should be on retaining their role. Yes, offers are coming in lower than this time last year, but the structure of individual packages has changed with many now being allocated a cash allowance as opposed to accommodation or a school place to offset the lower salary offerings.


Unlike much of the global uncertainty that surrounded the GFC in 2009, Qatar has a plan, a journey and a vision, with 2022 nearing closer and increasing pressure on decision makers. Qatar is investing in its future by spending heavily on young Qataris, sending them abroad for education and setting them up with careers from a young age. However Qatar still needs expat expertise to guide young Qataris; with the right attitude Expats can help with this investment and build Qatar's future. This should be huge cause for optimism and a very good reason for living in what is a very exciting time for a country that, despite its small size and tiny population, is currently one of the most high profile in the world.
If you would like to discuss opportunities in Qatar, whether recruiting or job hunting, please contact Ben Ewbank, Director at Michael Page Middle East.
Ben Ewbank
T: 974 4413 3508