Desert fun and bank accounts in Qatar, the richest country in the world
You probably already know Doha is nothing like Las Vegas. And the consumption of alcoholic beverages – the where and the when – is fairly strictly controlled. Dressing modestly, particularly in public places, is positively encouraged, a courtesy to both Qataris and Muslims. You’ll have gathered Qatar is a rather conservative Arab country. But don’t let any of that put you off visiting. You want clubbing? They’ve got clubbing. You want some magical desert fun and games? They’ve got that, too. And art galleries, theme parks, markets, restaurants, coffee shops and of course incredible shopping. After all, Qatar is the richest country in the world!
So there’s plenty for any self-respecting 20-something tourist to see and do, not to mention numerous ATMs and city-centre bureaux de change to ensure any visitor never runs too low on the ready cash. But life has an altogether different priority for the expatriate. Life is usually about earning a living and saving a bit of the monthly salary, although a little play now and again is highly recommended to clear away the cobwebs. That’s where the banks come in – no, not to clear the cobwebs, but to provide a safe place to keep your hard-earned moolah. We’re talking about these account thingamajigs, you know, HSBC current accounts or Doha Bank accounts or day-to-day bank accounts from IBQ. We all need them!
Typically, Qatar current accounts are much the same as their counterparts in the UK, the US or other Western countries. You want an online statement? You got it. An overdraft facility? Not a problem. Perhaps looking to buy a property? Many of the banks in Qatar these days now offer expatriates mortgages. Yes, you can even buy your own home in Qatar. Incredible, although the process is not quite a gentle stroll in the park!
For starters, the government encourages the buying of property only in certain areas. You’ll also have to produce a string of documents. These include your residency permit and proof of income from your employer. You’ll also need a property valuation report, building insurance and a copy of the title deed. Easy, right?
Back to simpler things like bank accounts. If you don’t have a suitable account then you’ll need to open one pronto. Although it’s nothing to get worked up about, the process is just a little bit different compared to the opening of a typical High Street bank account back in the UK. The most striking difference is the letter or certificate of no objection, NOC for short.
In essence, the NOC is an employer’s letter/certificate confirming your name and the salary paid to you every month. The employer must also confirm there is no objection to your salary being paid into the bank account chosen. You then take the letter or certificate to the bank along with the other documentation required. If all goes well, the bank will issue you with their own letter saying they are happy to receive your salary. You take this back to your employer. Told you it was a bit different!
The other documents required to open the account are fairly standard – passport, residency visa, possibly a tenancy agreement or a utility bill in order to establish your address and several passport-sized photos.