This is a question I am regularly asked by teachers considering working in the Middle East. I taught in a British school in Doha (Qatar) for 4 years and I’m now teaching in Dubai! For sure, Dubai has more to do, but I lived in Doha for 4 years and absolutely loved it too! So in my humble opinion…
Advantages of Doha
1) Schools in Doha can often have a better teaching salary and package than Dubai schools as it is a less popular destination
2) Smaller city so not as overwhelming as Dubai
3) Smaller expat community, which feels more connected
4) More chilled out than Dubai
5) Whereas Dubai has about 20 different events happening every weekend (at least!), Doha has about 5 events (concerts/ beach parties/ sports games/ balls/ comedy shows/ fun runs) per weekend
6) Doha still has lots of brunches, night clubs, bars, beach parties, famous DJs. and ladies nights (& alcohol!) but a smaller number than Dubai
7) Doha is also a central hub to travel abroad
8) Due to smaller number of things to do, I feel Doha has a better saving potential than Dubai
9) Doha has fewer schools, including not-for-profit private schools, while Dubai has much more choice in terms of schools
10) As of 2017, the UAE and Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade against Qatar, which means that it is now impossible to fly directly between Qatar and the UAE. Passengers must fly via Oman or Kuwait, which has made travelling to and from Qatar more expensive and more time-consuming.
Disadvantages of Doha vs Dubai:
1) No public beach in Doha where you can wear a bikini- either you drive 30 mins to the “Expat” beach or pay to use one of the many hotel beaches in Doha. Please note that all apartment blocks and compounds have a pool (where you can sunbathe in a bikini, etc.) so this may not be an issue for you
2) Slightly more conservative than Dubai, e.g. cover shoulders and skirts/shorts to the knee, in shopping centres (but not at bars and clubs- dress as you normally would)
3) No public transport whereas Dubai has the metro and buses for some of the city
4) I am glad I did Doha first as I felt it was much easier to meet other expats and make friends there than Dubai (expat community is soon big here!). It is easier to go from a smaller place to a bigger place. I feel if I’d have done Dubai first and then Doha, I’d have been spoiled with all Dubai has to offer and would be shocked at how much smaller Doha was
5) More cultural in Doha, e.g. lots of Arabic-inspired architecture, events, and places, which I love but for some, it might be a disadvantage
6) When you have visitors over for more than 7 days, you may run out of touristy things to do in Doha, but as Dubai is geared for tourism, this wouldn’t really happen
Again, just an insider look into both places- I was in Doha for 4 years and am now teaching in Dubai! Again it depends on your priorities when you teach abroad- is it career, travel, saving, or socialising?
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I’d love to hear what expat teachers from Doha and Dubai think about my list? Agree or disagree?