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Dubai vs Qatar | Where is Better to Live?

Dubai vs Qatar - Where is Better to Live

You may have read our recent article on London vs Dubai, but you’re still undecided on your next big move and fancy it being in the Middle East?! Do not worry as today we take a look at Dubai vs Qatar to see where is better to live.

Overall, we found that Dubai & Doha offered equally as good options to live, based on Location, Weather, Cost of Living, Salaries, Career Opportunities, Things to do, Crime Rates, Education, Population Density and Public Transport.

However, each of you will have your own views of what is important in a destination when considering a move, so read on for more to discover which city did each best.


Both Doha and Dubai are situated in the middle east and belong to the continent of Asia. One thing people misunderstand is that Qatar is not located in Dubai or the UAE.

Dubai is one of the major Emirates of the UAE where as Qatar is a country. For this we will take a look at living in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

You can actually reach Dubai from Qatar by car, driving through Saudi Arabia and into the UAE. This will take around 6 or 7 hours. Flights are frequent in between the two cities too, at a cost of around 700AED / £140 / $180, which takes just over an hour.

Dubai vs Qatar - Where is Better to Live | The Vacation Builder

Both places are very flat and desert like due to the year round heat, however Dubai has many mountainous areas to explore just outside of the city. Qatar on the other hand is very flat, country wide.

For accessibility, both major cities have flights in and out from other major cities world-wide daily. The east coast of Africa and the West Coast of India can be reached within a few hours from both places by plane. You can reach Bahrain by ferry from Qatar in as little as two hours or drive into Saudi Arabia if you wish (although there are no major cities close to the border). From Dubai there are many other places to explore all within reach by car. Places include Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Country of Oman.

Dubai vs Qatar - Where is Better to Live | The Vacation Builder
Jebel Jais in UAE

The baron land of sand in the Dubai and Doha can sometimes leave much to be imagined. Step a couple of hours outside the city of Dubai and you have some fantastic mountainous backdrops to explore, as well as fantastic wildlife within. Doha doesn’t have this luxury. Both places are easily accessible to the rest of the world but the winner for location here has to be Dubai.

Verdict: Dubai


Being so close together, both cities are extremely close when it comes to weather and humidity. Both Dubai and Doha are situated on the coast, and offer that much needed breeze from the sea. However, when it comes to temperatures there is only a degree or two in it. Neither of the two experience much rainfall, with Dubai averaging 100mm per year and Doha just 75mm!

Needless to say, if you are considering living in Qatar or the UAE, you will need to be ready for the heat. Check our monthly guide to Dubai’s weather. Or see here for a full month by month in Doha.

Verdict: Tie

Cost of Living

In our recent article on London vs Dubai, you were surprised to see that living in Dubai compared to London was around 28% cheaper to live. However, Doha is even cheaper, around 4% cheaper actually! According to Numbeo.com you would need 16,253AED in Doha to maintain the same standard of life in Dubai for 17,000AED.

Although grocery prices in Doha are on average 9% higher than in Dubai, consumer, rent and restaurant prices are much lower.

Verdict: There isn’t much in it, but Doha is the winner when it comes to cost of living.

Dubai vs Qatar Salaries

The first thing to remember when comparing salaries is that BOTH the UAE and Qatar offer tax free incomes. Below we have put together a comparison for average salaries of most major professions in both Dubai and Doha.

All salaries are shown in AED (the currency of UAE) and are per year. Qatar use the Qatari Rial. To see a rough conversion to US Dollars just divide by 4, or for British Pounds, divide by 5.

ProfessionDubai Salary AEDDoha Salary AED
Accountant 156,000126,076
Civil Engineer212,000177,000
Business Development Manager183,000281,000
Admin Clerk72,600100,000
Graphic Designer61,500110,000
Air Traffic Controller249,600209,000
Mechanic 82,80071,000
HR Manager372,000282,000
Petroleum Engineer235,200302,000
Hair Stylist 99,84083,755
Occupational Therapist148,800236,000
Bar Manager157,200213,000
Real Estate Agent213,600165,300
Web Developer214,800171,000

It is worth noting that the actual highs and lows of a particular profession can vary greatly. In many cases, skilled expats looking to work in Dubai and Doha can negotiate a living package on top of their income.

Average Salaries for both cities were put together with the help of SalaryExplorer.com. Both Dubai and Doha have very competitive salaries and there is no clear better place to earn a higher wage.

Verdict: Tie

Career Opportunities

To be able to weigh up career opportunities between Dubai & Doha is difficult. So we looked at unemployment rates and new start ups.

Although the unemployment rate in Doha rose from an incredible 0.1% in 2019 to 4.2% during the 2020 Corona Virus Pandemic; the capital of Qatar has sprung back with a bang in 2022 and dropped back to 0.1%!

In Dubai the unemployment rate is incredible too, compared to a lot of major cities, but not a scratch on Doha at 3.5%.

In Doha, there were 21,000 new companies formed during 2022. The population in Doha increased from 2021 to 2022 by just 6,000. So, when comparing this to the amount of new businesses created; you can see why unemployment rates are low!

3.049 new businesses started in Dubai during 2022, which is a far cry from the numbers of 2019 (32,000), but shows recovery post pandemic. The population of Dubai grew by 43,000 during 2022; and although healthy growth against new businesses created, still cannot compete with Doha!

Verdict: Doha

Things to do and See

Dubai vs Qatar - Where is Better to Live - Things to do and See | The Vacation Builder
The Pearl of Qatar in Doha

Dubai & Qatar both offer plenty in the ways of things to do and see. But which place offers more? Below is a summary of the main things to do and see in each location:

Summary of Things to do & See in Dubai:

Summary of Things to do & See in Qatar:

  • The Pearl of Qatar
  • Banana Island
  • Museum of Islamic Art
  • Doha Corniche
  • Shopping Malls
  • Zoo’s and Family Parks
  • Water Parks
  • Beaches
  • Desert Safari’s
  • Scuba Diving
  • World Class Golf Courses

Overall, even looking beyond the main tourist attractions of each destination, Dubai definitely has more going on than Qatar. Qatar runs it close though, and still offers much to do and see for people visiting or looking to move there. The difference has to be the quantity available in and around Dubai, plus the UAE offers more in the way of natural places to explore than Qatar.

Verdict: Dubai

Crime Rates

Dubai vs Qatar - Where is Better to Live - Crime Rates | The Vacation Builder

Crime in both Dubai & Doha is very low as a whole. According to the Crime Rate by Country Index Qatar has a crime rate of 11.9 in comparison to the UAE at 15.45.

To put into perspective just how safe these to countries are, compare the crime rate numbers of both against the USA (47.7), UK (44.54) and Australia (41.67).

Verdict: Doha


Over to education and one huge downside to living in Dubai. Non Emirati residents must pay fees for schooling, private or public. In Qatar, education is free, regardless of your passport.

Over 90% of Schools and Universities in Dubai are provided by the private sector. Fees at some of the top schools can reach upwards of 100,000AED per year (£20,000 / $26,000). The up side to this is that the general standard of schooling is very high. The schools in Dubai are graded each year and if any fall short, they aren’t able to increase fee’s which is regulated by the government.

The upside to schooling and education in Qatar is the fact that it is free and as the years progress, the Qatari Education System has adopted a more western approach to schooling. However, many schools still teach in only Arabic, whereas in Dubai they teach in Arabic and English. Furthermore, an overall review of the education system in Qatar shows that it is still far from reaching its national curriculum standards and has a long way to go for providing quality education, especially in mathematics and science education. You can read more on that here.

In comparison, Dubai’s KHDA Rating System rated 119 out of 210 schools in Dubai either ‘Good’, ‘Very Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. This translates into 56%, a far cry away from the standards in London.

Verdict: Dubai

For a full breakdown of all the Schools with Outstanding KHDA Ratings in Dubai see our full guide.

Population Density

If you like your space and privacy then Dubai & Doha are the places to be. In comparison to other major cities around the world, these two middle east cities have an extremely low population density. An example of which can be seen in the table below:

CityPopulation Density Per Square Km
New York38,242

Even though Dubai presents a good standard of living when it comes to avoiding crowded places, Doha is 70% less populated per square Km and therefore takes this round.

Verdict: Doha

Public Transport

Dubai vs Qatar - Where is Better to Live - Public Transport | The Vacation Builder
Inside the Standard Cabin of the Doha Metro

Both Dubai and Qatar seem to do public transport better than many other cities in the world. Taxi and bus fares are cheap and easy to catch, plus the metro and rail lines are cheap, ultra clean and super fast.

Doha prides itself on the newly constructed Doha High Speed Metro, which recently became operational in May 2019. The Doha metro has 37 stations spread across 76Km and is one of the highest speed driverless train networks in the world. To use the Doha Metro you must have a metro card which are divided into three categories; Standard, Gold Club and Limited use. When it comes to price, there is no rival, at just 3 Qatari Riyal (£0.59 / $0.82) for a single journey or 9 Qatari Riyal (£1.78 / $2.47) for a full day pass!

Dubai doesn’t shy away from cheap and clean public transport neither and is in the top 76% of cities for cost, with the average price of a single ticket at just 4.5AED £0.90 / $1.20!

Verdict: Dubai


Out of the 10 major factors to consider when looking to move to Dubai or Qatar, we have an overall tie with 4 points each and 2 ties.

Each person has there own core values when looking at possible destinations to live, so read through this guide again, and figure out which of the 10 elements are more important to you. This goes to show how well the Middle East is doing when it comes to the overall standard of living, compared with many other major cities around the world!

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