Qatar - Country Commercial Guide
Last published date:

Capital:  Doha

Population: 2.5 million (July 2021 est.)

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):  $245.7 billion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency:  Qatari Rial (QAR)

Language:  Arabic (Official), English (commonly used as second language)


UNESCO Student Mobility Number

Qatar has 8,527 students studying abroad according to UNESCO. 

CIA World Factbook

24.62% of the population in Qatar is under 25 years old.



Education in Qatar continues to expand due to a strong government commitment to create “an educated population,” with substantial investment in the sector, a rising youth population, and continued increases in school and university enrollment.  In 2020, Qatar allocated $6.07 billion to the education sector, which represented 10.5% of the total budget.  According to Boston Consulting Group, the private education market is expected to grow to $2.4 billion by 2023.  Qatar National Vision 2030 highlights the state’s goal to expand and improve the education system and promote the “Qatarization” of the workforce, which would require Qatari students to gain sufficient knowledge and skill sets from their educational institutions.  As of the 2019-20 academic year, there were 166 secondary schools (private and public) serving 52,161 students.  Public schools are free-of-charge, generally separated by gender, and are preferred by Qatari families for primary and secondary levels.

In public and private institutions, the levels of formal learning are pre-primary, primary, preparatory, and secondary schools.  The recent trend in Qatar’s education is towards choosing private institutions, the enrollments of which are likely to grow compared to the present-day preference of public institutions.  Private schools offer multiple international curricula (like IB and A-levels) and focus on studies in English, which potentially prepares Qatari students for study abroad education, specifically in the United States.  There were more than 332 private schools operating in Qatar in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Qatari male students are increasingly aiming to study in private institutions and a majority of the female students are enrolling in public institutions in Qatar with a focus on studying subjects in Arabic and pursuing a national curriculum.  Therefore, the majority of Qatari nationals in public universities are women, while more men either pursue careers or choose to go abroad for higher education.  There were 32 universities in Qatar with 39,000 students registered during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Qatar hosts six American universities (Carnegie Mellon University, Weill Cornell Medicine, Georgetown University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Texas A&M University, and Northwestern University), which accept both nationals and expatriate students.  A key player in these international collaborations is Qatar Foundation, a non-profit that stays at the forefront of Qatar’s educational development and consists of more than 50 entities working in education, research, and community development.  Higher education covers many areas, such as the humanities, medicine, science, engineering, education, and Islamic studies.  However, there is a lack of diversity within master’s degree programs, including professional development opportunities like law school, or specialized schooling like aviation.  Qatar is also actively looking to increase the enrollment rates for post-secondary education and raise the graduation rates for nationals studying STEM (math, science, and engineering, specifically) and IT disciplines.  These trends and needs are shaping the demand in this market and could be used as recruitment opportunities for U.S. institutions.

The Supreme Education Council (SEC) and Ministry of Education & Higher Education (MOEHE) are the two government agencies supporting and regulating education in Qatar.  

Government Scholarships:  A distinctive feature of the Qatari education system is the availability of scholarships for Qatari nationals for a selected number of universities for undergraduate and graduate studies.  The scholarships are provided by the state of Qatar.  The Ministry of Education & Higher Education is the regulatory body that supervises the process of choosing the institutions where Qataris are eligible to receive financial support.  The list of universities approved for the scholarships can be found here:



Higher Education:  There were 562 students from Qatar studying in the United States during the 2020-2021 academic year, according to the IIE Open Doors Report.  This is a 16.1% decrease than the previous year; however, this mirrors the overall decline in international students studying in the U.S. for the 2020-2021 academic year (15% decrease in the international enrollment rate).

The academic level segmentation is as follows:

  • Undergraduate Education: 459 students, a 17.1% decrease since the last academic year.
  • Graduate: 73 students, a 2.7% decrease since the last academic year.
  • Non-Degree Studies: 12 students, a 61.3% decrease since the last academic year.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT): 18 students, an 80% increase since the last academic year.

According to Qatar’s Education Statistical Profile 2019-2020, study abroad students preferred to pursue studies in engineering, economics and accounting, business administration, computer science, politics, international and public relations, medical and paramedical specialties, and law. 

Secondary Education:  Statistics are not available for education abroad for secondary school students.  While it is evident that Qataris prefer public education within the country, the growth of enrollments is larger for private institutions.  The enrollment rate at public institutions has remained consistent.   

Online Programs:  There could be opportunities in e-learning and executive education.

Research and Development:  There is a Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) division of the Qatar Foundation (QF).  QF is the main center for research and development in Qatar and includes the Qatar Science & Technology Park, which consists of the Arab Innovation Academy, multiple accelerators, and innovation hubs that provide funding for projects.  Qatar Foundation, Qatar University, and research centers of private education institutions (for example the Center of International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University in Qatar) comprise the main R&D facilities in the country.  Given the small size of the country and population, the research and development opportunities are limited.

Professional Training Services:  Most professional training services are provided by private entities, with several exceptions that can be found in ministries and government institutions, such as the Educational Training and Development Center supervised by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE).  In 2018, there were 24,000 Qatari male trainees and 25,000 Qatari female trainees.  Both indicators have increased consistently since 2013.  Some of the most popular fields of training are air transport, management training, occupational safety, oil and gas, IT, and teacher training.  Overall, Qatari society seems welcoming of the specialization and training opportunities that would give students a chance to stay in Qatar during their school and university years to advance in their fields of study.  Considering the national priority for an educated population and capable workforce, training for new and popular areas of studies such as business, STEM, and IT, could have a potential for success in Qatar.

Education Technology:  Qatar has been at the forefront of digital transformation and a top country in the region for technological advancement.  However, there could be opportunities for advanced and disruptive technology in the EdTech segment.



The best prospects in Qatar are in recruitment for programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  There could be opportunities for community colleges, particularly to recruit potential students from the expatriate community.  In addition, collaborative opportunities may exist for companies in skills development and training for the workforce in the energy, hospitality, and ICT sectors.  The government has plans to establish multiple K-12 schools, which may provide opportunities for school management and school operation service providers.


The popular platforms used by students are Google Duo, Google Meet, Zoom, and MS Teams.

The most popular social media sites used by students in Qatar are WhatsApp, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook.  LinkedIn is used by students to search for job opportunities.  YouTube and TikTok are popular for streaming videos.  Local and international education institutions use various social media sites to provide information to potential students and recruit students for higher education.



  • 1324th International Conference on Education and Social Science
  • International Society for Engineers and Researchers Conference -  for the promotion of international education and university cooperation in the fields of science, engineering, and technology
    Doha, Qatar
    July 10 - 11, 2022
  • University Expo Qatar - a comprehensive two-day exhibition attended by students age 16+ who are considering their higher education options, as well as their parents and teachers Oct. 19-20, 2022





Srinivasa Murthy, Commercial Advisor

U.S. Commercial Service – Doha, Qatar

Phone:  +974 4496 6730