Driving In Doha and Qatar as a whole can be intimidating, frustrating and even dangerous.
Experienced drivers, however have adapted and found-Knowing what to expect can be half the battle , You want be able to change the system or the drivers- at least not quickly so better to accept reality and save yourself the anguish.
Accept and adapt to the local driving conditions.
A contradiction in terms, but the safest way to arrive at your destination, Be aware of your surroundings at all times, expect the unexpected and the prepared for it, Assume that any vehicle around you will make an incorrect action ( Just because the vehicle in the front is indicating right, this doesn’t mean that he is going to turn right !) Anticipate the worst of action by the vehicle around you.
When choosing a vehicle some people prefer to security of a large size – and others the agility of a smaller vehicle, Choose what you are most comfortable driving , Maintain and awareness of vehicles to your rear and those passing ( on the left or right ) by keeping a close eye on all of your mirrors.
As is any modern country with a busy road system there are many more offenses like using a mobile phone not wearing your seat belt , the traffic rules are strictly enforced, Driving under the influence of alcohol is very serious, and could lead to prosecution if a traffic officer smells alcohol on your breath having been involved in a traffic accident, Qatar also applies a Zero- tolerance to drugs.
If someone is reported for reckless, aggressive driving and or impolite hand gestures to the police it will be investigated and action maybe taken.
There are now speed limits on all roads as well as static speed cameras placed around Doha, and if caught speeding you could pay a fine of usually 500 QR to 800 QR upwards, plus 4 points depending on your speed, excessive speeding will be dealt with by the Doha Courts.
The police also have mobile radar cameras, unmarked cars fitted with video cameras and some roads are been fitted with average speed cameras.
Be aware that the police can and do impound your vehicle if your speed is excessive.
You can be subjected to a traffic penalty without your knowledge, Frequently the first you will learn of the penalty will be upon annual vehicle re-registration or when involved in a car accident, Rules, regulation and procedures are subject to change – sometimes frequent changes.
The static cameras fitted at traffic signals are also speed cameras.
Qatari residents and visitors must carry a valid licence for driving in Qatar.
Nationals from other GCC states may use their national driving licence.
All other visitors can drive on their national Driving licence for 15 days from the day of entry into Qatar.
This is usual knocked down to 7 days because the insurance companies have their own rules, That’s why most people will tell you that you can only drive for 7 days.
Before Driving we strongly advice you to check with the vehicle owners insurance company as to which rule applies, 7 or 15 days.
Expatriates cannot register a vehicle in their name before they have obtained a residence permit, they will also need a no objection letter from their sponsor or employer
Registration is based on the model year of the vehicle for the first three years to renew the registration of a vehicle is a paperwork exercise, the vehicle does not need to go to be inspected
Once the model year of the vehicle reaches three years, as in many countries, the vehicle will have to be inspected annually at an official government facility to check on things like the vehicles emissions, Paint works , Brakes , Tires , Glass, Lights, and so on.
If you have any outstanding penalties or issues with the police you will have to clear them first or they will not be able to register the vehicle
The law allows a 15 days grace period to renew the registration after that there is a fine.
An international Driving license obtained outside of Qatar along with your national Driving Licence can be valid for up to six months from the day of entry into Qatar
Providing you are entering Qatar on a visit or business visa with no intention to take up permanent residence or applying for a resident permit.
If you are entering Qatar with the intention of taking up permanent residence (applying for a resident permit) the international Driving license is NOT VALID ; therefore the 7 days rule applies.
Before driving we strongly advice you to check with the vehicle owners insurance company, as not all insurance companies will accept/recognize the international Driving license as a valid permit to drive in Qatar
Also if you are looking to Rent A Car, we would recommend that you check with the rental company as not all car rental companies will accept the international Driving license.
During your first 7 days you can apply locally for a temporary driving permit.
If you are intending to stay in Qatar and take up permanent residence, once you have your resident permit the Temporary driving permit can be transferred to a full Qatar Driving License
There will be no need to go back to the traffic department, as its a paperwork exercise to change them over
All of the above is given as advice only
We strongly recommend that you contact your company’s public relations office or the Qatari traffic department directly for up to date advice.
If you or you drive without a valid Qatar Driving license and a accident or damage occurs to the vehicle the insurance will be void and you may be liable to prosecution.
Be Mindful !
If you cross a red light it is upwards of 6000 QR fine plus 6 Points.
The honking of car horns usually means I’m here, but as you will find there can be an enthusiastic volley when the lights turn to green, or if the vehicle behind thinks there was a space for you to join the traffic on the roundabout or that you were taking too long to move, Don’t be intimidated by the honking, Take your time and join the traffic when you’re ready.
Should you be involved in an accident or damage your vehicle, strict procedures will apply, However,if you handle yourself well and follow this advice- it need not be such a harrowing experience.
Recent changes in the traffic laws have made the rule Not to MOVE THE VEHICLES somewhat ambiguous, saying that , if you are involved in a minor accident and it is obvious who is at fault, with both parties agreeing to who is at fault then you should.
Move the vehicle to the nearest safe parking area or to the side of the road, then call the police and wait for them to arrive ( Failure to comply could result in a penalty)
However, we would recommend NOT TO MOVE THE VEHICLE if you are involved in any accident where:
The police need to see the position of all vehicle to assess responsibility.
The above is only advice and the decision to Move or Not Move the vehicle is at your discretion
All accident and damage to a vehicle has to be covered by a Police report.
If there are injuries call : 999 and ask for a ambulance or contact Hamad Hospital on : +974 44392222 or +974 44394444
Contact the police on +974 44890699 or +974 44890670 or 999 , Provide them with the location of the accident including names and landmarks near to you i.e. large shops, Buildings etc .
If you have a colleague or friend who speaks Arabic – try to get them to come to the accident scene whilst many of the police do speak English, some may not be fluent .
At the scene of the incident you will be asked to provide your license, vehicle registration and insurance documents ( it is advisable to have photocopies of these documents available in your vehicle) The police will listen to the explanation of all involved and complete their preliminary roadside report, They will advise all involved when the attend the traffic department (normally the following day, although it can be immediate) to receive the documentation required for repair-work and the insurance companies.
It is ILLEGAL for any garage in Qatar to carry out any accident or body work repairs ( no matter how small on your vehicle without the authorised paperwork from police and or insurance company.
If you speak English only it is advisable that your company PRO or well informed Arabic speaking colleague assist you at the police station.