‘I might leave the country’: Education City graduates receive eviction notices ahead of FIFA World Cup

“This summer, a portion of graduated students were notified to vacate their units to open up space for the incoming class of Qatar Foundation students.”

Qatar Foundation (QF) alumni have been asked to leave their Student Housing accommodation by 1st October to make room for the increasing number of students this year, according to an email sent by QF Housing on Thursday. 

“This week, some of our remaining alumni were notified to vacate their units to open up space for incoming Afghan students who will be joining the American University of Afghanistan here in Education City,” QF told Doha News in a statement.

Qatar Foundation’s alumni housing is designed to provide affordable housing to graduates with QF-sponsored student residence permits as they navigate finding jobs and advancing their careers post graduation. 

But now, some of the graduates are worried that facing eviction at the moment will force them to leave the country due to the growing number of housing shortages and increased rent prices ahead of the FIFA World Cup. 

“I am working on a temporary contract while I seek something full time, if I cannot find affordable housing by October, I will be [released] of my contract and may have to leave Qatar altogether,” one QF graduate told Doha News. 

“I am a huge football fan and it will be gut-wrenching to not be here, especially because I already have the tickets to games and teams I like watching,” the alumni added, stressing his dream of attending the World Cup.

In an email sent to residents on 11 August, residents were told that housing is going to be limited during the FIFA World Cup as QF will be assigning rooms to host “priority groups” during FIFA World Cup 2022 at the QF Student Housing. 

As a result of this, some alumni have expressed their confusion and annoyance at “the lack of transparency” from QF Housing, as they were neither informed about vacating completely until mid August nor were they told who the “priority groups” are, until QF confirmed to Doha News that they are Afghan students.

Graduates at QF Housing pay around an average of 2700 QAR per month for a fully furnished one bedroom apartment, but now that they are facing evictions, it is proving difficult to find affordable housing outside of Education City. 

“I tried to find housing outside before moving back into QF Housing, but it is very expensive and hard without a stable income since landlords want you to sign 12 month lease contracts and I don’t have that money,” another QF graduate told Doha News.

“I am not comfortable living with random roommates, and the cheap places I found were far from my workplace,” the graduate added, stressing that even though she is considering moving back to her country, she needs to find a way to stay here since she still has to pay off her QF student loans.

Qatar Foundation offers need-based loans to low income international and local students, which they are required to pay off after graduation by working at one of hundreds of approved organisations in Qatar.

The World Cup’s housing demand makes the timing of evictions unfavourable, but Housing is primarily focused on providing support to current students, QF told Doha News

Qatar’s rent woes ahead of FIFA World Cup

With 92 days before the kick off game, residents in Doha have reportedly been given eviction notices, asked to sign short term lease agreements, or on the flip-side, 24-month lease agreements – or have even had their rent significantly increased.

Many have blamed this on the World Cup, believing that landlords are looking to capitalise on the profits that visitors will bring to the country, making living conditions difficult for long-term residents.

On average, proprietors can raise rent prices up to 10% a year, according to Shahzad Ali, a strategy executive based in Doha.

As of 2022 however, the government removed the cap on prices during the World Cup period to attract more revenue, essentially giving landlords free rein to charge “up to 15,000 to 20,000 QAR a night”.

“They’re [landlords] trying to capitalise off the World Cup period where a price rise cap has been removed by the authorities. It’s a cost-benefit analysis and for small landlords, the business case makes sense to ask the tenants to leave,” Ali told Doha News. 

In the last year, Qatar has witnessed a significant rise in rent prices, with some increasing more than 50%.

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