Are you at a crossroads in deciding whether to stay in the UK or relocate to Qatar and the Middle East? Will it be financially viable to move to Qatar and the Middle East? Expat banking and investment are subjects of continuous interest for financial moguls, but some of the most interesting differences between the two countries are social customs that are recognised when companies do business.
Personal financial affairs
According to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2012, expats in the Middle East have a relatively positive economic outlook. In terms of economic satisfaction, expats in Oman (90%), Qatar (89%) and Saudi Arabia (83%) reported a higher satisfaction level about the state of their current economy than expats across the world (59%). The key factor that attracts expats to Middle Eastern nations is job opportunities, with 77% of expats citing this as a reason for relocating to Qatar, 76% for Saudi Arabia, 74% for Bahrain and 65% for the UAE. As it has been reported by business experts, there are more job opportunities in Qatar than in Bahrain, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the survey indicated that the high salaries and low tax rates on personal income in many Middle Eastern countries have enabled expats to secure higher disposable income than expats living in other regions. The majority of expats interviewed in the survey reported higher earnings potential in some Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar, Oman and Bahrain than the global average. In the New Horizons article series published by the Guardian, there are now 4.5 million Britons abroad. Young and single expats prefer the tax-free income offered by countries in the Middle East and they normally stay for around 5 years and typically take middle-management roles in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.
In Qatar, the government does not levy personal income taxes on employee earnings, estate or gift taxes and any social security taxes. In contrast, the basic tax rate in the UK for 2013-14 is 20% for the first £32,010 and higher rate of 40% will be taxed on annual income between £32,011 and £150,000, according to HM Revenue & Customs.
One of the most important things that expats do is to open saving accounts in Qatar. You can either open an account before you leave or set up one when you arrive in Qatar. If you are a customer of an international bank that has a presence in Qatar, you can open an account in Qatar before you set off. Your account will be opened before you arrive and your banking credit history will be consistent.
In addition to financial issues, expats deciding to relocate also consider lifestyle and emotional factors such as cultural fit. By respecting the culture and customs in Qatar, you can blend into the Qatari society. While Arabic is the official language, English is commonly used for business. Given Qatar’s attractive investment climate, there are many professionals moving there with their children. For expats relocating with children, advice given by expats living in Qatar is to plan and apply for a place in school before you move (as reported in the Telegraph). Qatar has an excellent health care system and the Qatari government is planning to implement a universal health insurance system.
It is natural to feel uncertain before emigrating to a new country – no matter where you go! Before you uproot yourself and your family, evaluate how you want to move your career forward and the long-term benefits of becoming an expat and starting afresh in a new country.