Bahrain vs Qatar – where to move from the USA this year?

There are several countries in the Arabian Gulf region that are popular expat destinations. The number is high enough to make it hard to decide where you would like to move and start working. We are going to compare Bahrain vs Qatar to give you a better idea of where to go. Both of these countries have very hot summers, but moderate and humid winters. Another thing that they have in common besides their culture, is that they have a large number of shopping malls. However, Bahrain is a post-oil economy, while Qatar’s industry is still largely based in the petrochemical industries. You will find most of the requirements and benefits for moving to these two countries below.

A building in Bahrain
Both Bahrain and Qatar are famous expat destinations

Immigration requirements in Bahrain and Qatar

Citizens from Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates can visit Bahrain without any visa. While people from non-gulf countries would need to apply for a visa. The visa application is assessed based on the purpose of your stay, the place of issue, the number of visits, and sponsorship requirements. There are two types of visas – the standard one or an eVisa. The first one has a visible stamp, while the second one doesn’t have any visible label.  The sponsor(employer) usually arranges the visas.  If you want to get an unsponsored visit visa, then apply for a Visit eVisa through Bahrain’s Nationality, Passport, and Residence Affairs official website. You can also get an eVisa upon arrival at the border or at the nearest Bahrain embassy.

Qatar is quite different compared to Bahrain

Unlike Bahrain, if you are entering Qatar via Qatar Airways, you may be able to get a two-week tourist visa upon arrival. There are 33 countries to which this applies, including the USA, Canada, Germany, and Iceland. Nevertheless, a tourist visa is not sufficient for most expats moving to Qatar. Besides that, visa regulations are prone to change. For up-to-date visa information, make sure to always check with either your embassy or airline.

Qatar offers a business visa to expats who are visiting to set up a business or to attend a meeting. It is valid for 14 days (which may be extended) and should be organized by the Qatari company in the latter case. However, expats usually travel to Qatar to live and work there, and not to make short visits. There is a chance that you need to get police clearance from your home country also known as “Certificate of Good Conduct”. After providing that document, your employer in Qatar arranges for your residency permit and work visa to be processed. The Ministry of Interior has to review your visa before it can be approved. You may ship your belongings to a storage unit in Qatar since it can several months for them to arrive.

Luggage and passport ready travel ready, only thing left is to compare Bahrain vs Qatar and start the move
Comparing Bahrain vs Qatar, we can see that they have different requirements despite being in the same region

There is no personal income tax regime in Bahrain

Bahrain doesn’t impose income taxes. However, employees are subjected to social security contributions. The contributions to the Social Insurance Organization (SIO) are as follows: 19% for Bahrainis (12% employer; 7% employee) and 4% for foreigners (3% employer; 1% employee). They are remitted to the SIO each month and are calculated based on employee’s monthly salaries. Consumption or net wealth taxes do not exist in Bahrain. Additionally, investment income and capital gains are not subject to tax. Stamp duties, customs duties, and municipal taxes are the only taxes individuals may be subject to.

Comparing the work requirements of Bahrain vs Qatar

Out of the 1.6 million inhabitants of Bahrain, more than half are foreign workers. The agency in charge of labor policies, issuance of entry visas, and work permits is the Labour Market Regulatory Authority. It is also in charge of collecting all fees related to work licenses and permits. Anyone who looks to obtain a work visa in Bahrain needs a sponsor.

Comparing Bahrain to Qatar, you can see that both require that you have a sponsor. The sponsor is typically your employer, and you need to work for him exclusively for two years as an expat. With a clearance letter and the two years finished, you will be able to find a new employer and transfer your sponsorship. As a future expat in Qatar, you should do some research about your sponsors before you commit to them. The reason being that the sponsors have a lot of power over foreign employees. They may refuse to issue the necessary exit visa, which allows you to exit Qatar. Also in their power is to ban you for two years from returning. However, they cannot hold on to your passport, unless they need it to complete important paperwork.

Where is it easier to bring your family to?

If you want to bring your family to Bahrain, then you must apply for a Family Visa or Residency Permit. Additionally, you would need to be able to fully financially support your family (sponsor them). You would need to bring your contract and a copy to prove that you are able to sponsor them. Your family also requires some documents like passports and health records. Besides that, Bahrain mandates for its residents to secure an identification card called Central Population Registry (CPR) card. Once you are done with the paperwork, find reliable companies that do shipping to Bahrain to help you out with the relocation.

A building in Doha, Qatar
Make sure that you are earning enough money to cover your family’s expenses in Qatar

You can also sponsor your family in Qatar, once you have received sponsorship yourself. If you are a man, you can sponsor your sons till they are 25, and are still students. However, you can sponsor your daughters until they are married. You would have to travel to Qatar and apply for your residence visa before you can bring your family. However, that could take a few months.

The assignment in Qatar doesn’t come without financial challenges despite tax-free salaries compared to Bahrain. In order to sponsor your family, it is likely that you need to save up some money besides receiving a salary. The cost of living is a lot higher than in the US, relative to the average income. A lot of expats have had financial issues because of this. Furthermore, the ones that have brought their families with them have sent them back home when they could not cover their expenses. If all of this poses no problem for you, then you should find companies that do shipping to Qatar. They would help your family to move furniture, appliances, and other belongings safely to your location.

Making the final decision between Bahrain and Qatar

Even though these countries share a lot of similarities, ultimately their policies make all the difference for you. The height of your salary determines if it is feasible to bring your family with you, in both cases. When you have done comparing Bahrain vs Qatar, you should find a reputable moving company to move your stuff. While searching, you should make sure that they have good reviews and that all of their information checks out.