The cost of fuel, electricity, water and rent have all gone up in the world’s richest country lately – and Britons who moved there to make money are thinking twice about staying
Article By Victoria Scott of DailyTelegraph
A third of household income now goes on housing costs in Qatar, according to reports
Qatar hiked petrol prices by 30 per cent at midnight local time on Thursday, amid a slump in global oil prices.
The surprise price rise, announced by Woqod, the state fuel company just hours before it came into effect, caused queues to form and tempers to fray at petrol stations as the deadline approached.
Although unleaded petrol in the country still remains a relative bargain at QR1.30 (25p) a litre, even after after the price increase, residents of Qatar, the richest country in the world by GDP per capita, are beginning to feel the financial pinch.
In the past six months, Qatar has also significantly increased the price of residential electricity and water and more than doubled the cost of its postal services, both for the first time in years. Meanwhile, high domestic rents are pushing up the cost of living, with a third of household income typically being spent on housing costs.
Last summer Qatar announced it would face its first budget deficit in 15 years in 2016 because of the fall in energy prices. And in November last year, Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, gave a public address in which he said that lower oil revenues meant the state could no longer “provide for everything”.
Long viewed as one of the most solid financial choices for those looking for work overseas, the rising cost of living in Qatar is now a key concern for those choosing to live there. While the fuel price increase is not likely to spark a mass exodus of British expats, the combined impact of higher home energy costs and increasingly high rents are giving many pause for thought.
“The biggest issue for us here is rent price,” British teacher Kirsteen Watson said. “When we arrived two and a half years ago we were paying 9000 QR (£1734) a month for our three bedroom apartment. Now it’s 12,000 QR (£2,312) a month, and our housing allowance is still the same. It’s making saving very difficult.”
Office manager Carla Jackson, who is also from Britain, said her air conditioning bill has rocketed since the water and electricity prices increased, and it now costs 1000 QR (£193) per month to keep her three bedroom villa cool. The grocery bill for her and her husband is also climbing.
“In the last year I would say my weekly shop has tripled. It’s actually cheaper to eat out than cook every night. I am still better off here than living in the UK at the moment, but if it keeps going up we will consider moving on,” she said. “After all, we are here to save money.”