Childcare in Qatar

Find out about the different childcare and nursery school options available to parents in Qatar, plus information on nannies, domestic help and babysitting...

There is a good selection of nurseries for pre-school children in Doha. Most of these are private institutions, but the government monitors and regulates these services. The Ministry of Social Affairs has procedures in place that make it a legal requirement for nurseries to have a qualified nurse on their permanent staff; there must also be regular health checks by approved doctors. New regulations stipulating minimum requirements for space, staff-to-child ratios, qualifications for carers and fire regulations were also brought in by the Ministry in 2011 in an attempt to eradicate the smaller nurseries that do not have qualified staff or the minimum standard of facilities.

Many nurseries are English-speaking, and follow various mainstream curricula such as the British and Montessori Early Years programmes. Some take babies from as young as three months old, while others only accept toddlers from 12 months. Part-time attendance is possible at some establishments, and while costs vary and are not regulated, rates start from around QR500 a week for full-time attendance.

A good resource for researching the various facilities in Qatar is the Nursery Guide on the Doha Mums website, which has listings of the better nurseries that operate in the capital. The more popular nurseries often have waiting lists, so some parents enrol their children even before they are born.

Some of the schools in Doha also have affiliated nurseries. Children who attend a school's nursery may get priority in some cases when it comes to registering for a place at the primary school.

Domestic help

Many expatriate families in Qatar employ domestic help, and some parents choose to incorporate the role of nanny into the duties of their maid or housekeeper. To take on domestic live-in help, the family must sponsor the nanny or maid, as well as provide suitable accommodation in the family home (villas often have a small built-in maid's room).

Sponsoring a maid

Sponsoring a maid involves applying for a no-objection certificate from the father's employer (who may assist with the application), and then paying for a residence permit. The maid also has to pass the same medical tests that are required for the standard Work Residence Permit. Other costs, such as a return flight to the maid's home country, plus reasonable living expenses, a salary (often dependent on nationality, as is the practice in Qatar), and annual leave and days off, must also be paid. Only married men can hire domestic help.

Au pairs

Domestic helpers, while a comparatively cheaper option, are often not certified childcare providers, and some families prefer to employ the services of a qualified au pair from Europe or their home country. A reputable international agency is often the best way to recruit suitable help.

Babysitting

For babysitting services, joining a social group is a good way to meet other parents and form babysitting circles.