Doha v Dubai; differences between Dubai and Qatar

by Danni B

Dubai and Qatar are two of the most popular destinations in the world for expats. Dubai vs Qatar? Doha v Dubai? Both offer a wealth of opportunities, from job prospects to a luxury lifestyle. However, it’s important to note, that Dubai is a city whereas Doha is a country.

If you’re deciding which one to go to for a holiday or vacation or for moving, this article is for you.

Compare the differences, hotels, things to do and more plus what is the cost of living in Dubai and Qatar. From someone who’s lived in the region for over 10 years.

After Qatar hosted the World Cup in 2022, Doha has become an even more popular tourist destination since.

Where is Dubai?

Dubai is located in the United Arab Emirates, on the Persian Gulf. It is one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE and has quickly become one of the world’s most desirable tourist destinations.

Where is Doha?

Doha is the capital city of Qatar and is located on the Persian Gulf coast connected to Saudi Arabia. It is a major hub for business, culture and entertainment in the Middle East and has earned the nickname “Pearl of the Gulf”.

Doha v Dubai

DohaDubai City
Population2.99 million (2022)3.5 million (2022)
Time zoneGMT + 3GMT + 4
Area132 km²35 km²
Official religionIslamIslam
Official languageArabic (English widely used)Arabic (English widely used)
Political structureSemi-constitutional monarchyConstitutional monarchy
Ruling familyAl ThaniMaktoum
Tourists per year2.14 million (2019)16.73 million (2019)
Country GDP$274 billion (2021)$640 billion (2021)
*GDP is taken from World Economics

Comparing the Cost of Living

When it comes to the cost of living, Dubai is more slightly more expensive than Qatar. Bills on the other hand Dubai is around one-third more than that of Qatar for utilities. The cost of food and entertainment is also higher. However, there are some advantages to choosing Dubai – the city is massively adapted towards expats and offers a much more cosmopolitan lifestyle than Qatar.

Additionally, when it comes to salaries, Qatar has the edge over Dubai. Salaries in Qatar tend to be higher than those in Dubai and have increased significantly since 2018.

To sum up, both destinations offer expats a wealth of opportunities. Whether you are looking for an exciting lifestyle or a quieter pace of life, both Dubai and Qatar have something to offer. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and budget. Whichever destination you choose, we’re sure you’ll enjoy living in the region.

For more detailed information on the living costs of Dubai, check out my previous article

Should you go to Doha or Dubai for a vacation?

When it comes to tourist attractions, Dubai has some unique offerings. From its iconic skyscrapers like the Burj Khalifa to its luxurious shopping malls, there’s something for everyone. And of course, there are plenty of beaches and desert safaris to enjoy too!

Qatar is less well-known as a tourist destination but still has plenty to offer. The country boasts some beautiful nature spots, including Khor al Adaid (a unique beach with large sand dunes all in the same area), as well as numerous museums and cultural attractions. Qatar also has Souq Waqif which is home to some of the best street food eateries in the region.

Depending on your background, one key factor will be the conservative nature of Qatar. Dubai’s Dress code rules have greatly been relaxed compared to Qatar where women are expected to dress modest in public places.

If you’re looking to visit Dubai, make sure to start from here so you can plan the perfect visit

Key points when choosing between Dubai and Qatar

  • Dubai is an established popular tourist destination
  • Doha in Qatar is a more conservative country so you will need to be aware of the law
  • Both are located in the Middle East on the Persian Gulf
  • Both experience year-round sunny weather and have a desert climate
  • Hotels are similar in price however Dubai has a wider range to choose from
  • Dubai also has higher taxes on goods and services than Qatar
  • Both have excellent public transportation and offer lower taxes than Western countries for those wanting to move to the region
  • Dubai is easier for tourist and resident visas for many countries though Qatar is also improving

So, if you’re looking for sightseeing opportunities, Dubai may be the better choice; but if you want a more low-key holiday experience, Qatar could be the perfect option.

Dubai main tourist attractions:

  • Burj Khalifa
  • Dubai Mall
  • Atlantis
  • The Dubai Fountain
  • Desert Safaris
  • Jumeirah Beach

Qatar main tourist attractions:

  • Khor Al Adaid
  • Souq Waqif
  • Museum of Islamic Art
  • Katara Cultural Village
  • Al Zubarah Fort


When looking at dubai vs doha as a destination for expats, both offer plenty of attractive features. However, Dubai is more expensive when it comes to cost of living and rent, while Qatar offers higher salaries and a range of cultural attractions.

In terms of holidays or vacations, you will probably spend a similar amount to visit both destinations. Ultimately, the decision about which destination would be best for you comes down to personal preference and job offer.

For vacations, it’s whether you want something a little different to where everyone else goes or somewhere built especially for tourists. Whichever destination you choose, you’re sure to enjoy your stay!

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