The Qatar World Cup may have been a huge success for the likes of McDonald’s and Emirates, but many local businesses are suffering severe financial losses. Restaurants for rent in Qatar are struggling to win over football fans who are instead spending their money at fan zones, stadiums and hotels. A grocer in the city of Muaither told MEE that he lost half his profits this week as people opted for fast-food outlets near stadiums and fan zones.
Other restaurants have said that they didn’t get enough business because the event was held at venues far from their locations, forcing them to spend more on advertising. Others complained that organisers had given priority to Qatari-owned businesses and cut into the budgets of others.
Many of the big international chains that have a presence in Qatar are looking to expand. There are also a growing number of independent restaurants, particularly those that specialise in seafood. Several of these have opened in the past few years in Doha’s new waterfront district. The prices of food and drink in the country are fairly typical of other countries in the Middle East. For example, a pint of domestic beer in a bar is QR50, and a cappuccino in a coffee shop costs about QR15.
Some expats have invested in their own restaurants while others have teamed up with a Qatari partner. The latter usually puts in ZERO capital on day one and is only paid out a small percentage of the audited profit if any. Some restaurants in Qatar don’t require a Qatari partner but it does help speed up the investment process.
The cost of living in the emirate is expensive, especially in the capital, Doha. However, salaries are high and there is no personal income tax in the country. In fact, a Volkswagen Golf will set you back a staggering QR71,000, while a Toyota Corolla is only slightly cheaper at QR70,000.
Utilities are partially subsidized by the government and electricity is cheaper than in most European countries. Gas is similarly cheap, and water is free. Rents are also relatively low, but in the past they have risen rapidly.
Education is a major cost in Qatar, with private school tuition starting at about QR25,000 for kindergarten and going up to QR80,000 a year for high school. There is a free public education system, but this is only open to Qatari nationals. Many expats opt to send their children to private schools, which are more costly but still less than in Europe. There is no state pension in the emirate, and expats can only access healthcare from Qatari-based providers. In addition, childcare and unemployment benefits are not available to expats. However, the government is working to change this in future. It has promised to introduce social security for foreign workers by 2022. A new law will allow expats to pay into a local fund that provides benefits such as healthcare, education and housing.