The once unknown Qatar has snapped up international headlines by the dozens: from being the first Middle Eastern country to win the bid to host the World Cup in 2022, to having a unique political stance in the region, this country proves that size does not limit one’s degree of influence. With a growing economy, and one of the world’s most stable industries, natural gas, and petroleum refinement, there is no doubt the monarchs of this city-state have ambitions for their country.
There is a budding fashion industry in Qatar which includes everything from couture shops such as Jimmy Choo or Hermes to entrepreneurial skills which lead young people (mostly women) to open their own designer labels, boutiques, and clothing lines.
Journalism and Media
The news network Al Jazeera offers premium, round the clock coverage of worldwide events in both English and Arabic. The network has satellite offices all over the world but the hub is in Doha.
Hamad medical hospital and the Sidra project make Doha one of the up and coming hot spots for medical innovation. Universal coverage also means a wide range of clinics and medical centers are available; these services are also supplemented by private institutions.
From Olympic bids (2016, 2022) to the World Cup, as well as hosting other major events including the Asian Games (2006), Qatar has made sports, and sports education for youth, a central part of the community profile. Whether it’s physical fitness or the local football (soccer) teams, there is a great interest in making sure youth are active.
The building boom in Qatar started in advance of the Asian Games in 2006 and hasn’t really slowed. From man-made reclamation projects like The Pearl Qatar (a series of artificially constructed islands with multi-use buildings – residential and commercial) to state of the art stadiums with built-in cooling systems for the 2022 World Cup, the country is expanding and adapting to the need for new and increased capacities.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship
Doha is primarily where all the action is in Qatar. Though there are other cities, including Wakra, and Al Khor, as well as the oil industry town Dukhan, the majority of the industry and population are concentrated in the country’s capital.
Visas for Interning in Qatar
Although it is technically a loophole, many people work in Qatar on what is known as a tourist visa. This visa is given to European, Canadian, and American nationals on arrival and expires after 22 days. There is one renewal allowed for these visas, for another twenty-two days after which you must leave the country and return for a new visa. These trips are known as visa runs.
For other nationalities, a business visa or a pre-approved business visa is necessary to enter the country. The limits on these vary so it is best to check with your issuer: many hotels offer a visa service if you are staying with them.
Cost of Living in Qatar
Food and housing are the highest expenses in Qatar because so much of the population has a high standard of living. A way of making an internship affordable in Qatar would be to arrange for a homestay, either through your religious organization, embassy, or a cultural institution. Many families live in fairly large villas with extra rooms or at least spacious couches. Most companies have college-age interns from within the country. These positions, for the most part, are unpaid.
Work and Labor Laws in Qatar
The labor laws pertain mostly to full-time staff or employees. There are no specific rules for internships, which means that you may have no legal recourse if there are mitigating circumstances at your particular workplace. You will want to make sure you have travel insurance in case of an emergency or other incident requiring medical care.
When being introduced to someone for the first time, always be sure to greet them standing. If you are sitting, stand up. If someone of the opposite sex, wait for them to extend a hand (some Muslims do not shake hands with people of the opposite gender who are not relatives).
If you are an Arabic speaker, your chances of finding an internship will be almost double as it increases the types of environments in which you could possibly find an internship. While Qatar is a bilingual country, and most people will tell you they speak English (as well as Arabic, Hindi, or several other languages) there is a strong preference for Arabic amongst the nationals as well as the Arab population in general. Those with bilingual skills are more competitive in the marketplace in general. Make sure you understand the distinction between Modern Standard Arabic and the various dialects which can vary from country to country (like Egyptian, Lebanese, or Gulf Arabic).
There are organizations which offer beginner and intermediate level courses, depending on the amount of time you have available for study and your budget, an Arabic course may also be a good way to meet other expats and Arabic speakers. From Berlitz, a language center, to Qatar University’s non-native Arabic speakers’ program, you are likely to find a suitable option.
There is a strong women’s networking community established and promoted by the Qatar Professional Women’s Network (QPWN) and How Women Work conference (HWW). Other important networks include those established by embassies and cultural centers as well as industry-specific ones. For example, if you’re interested in education, Qatar Foundation is an important place that has an array of events, as well as Katara, the Cultural Village. These institutions update their schedules often, so be sure to check out their websites and visit when you arrive as things tend to change often at the last minute.
Contributed by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
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