Driving in Qatar
An introduction to driving in Qatar, an overview of the main road rules and regulations, and details on the safety items which you must always carry in a vehicle...
Qatar’s road network is expanding at the same rapid pace as the rest of the country’s infrastructure. Wide, multi-lane highways are being developed, particularly in and around Doha, but there is a high per-capita fatal accident record compared to most other developed and developing nations. Driving motorbikes is rare, as is cycling as a means of transport; this is as much to do with the extreme temperatures in the summer as hazardous driving conditions on the road.
Traffic congestion can be an issue during peak hours and this, combined with a shortage of taxis and limited public transport services, means that it's not uncommon for Doha residents or their employers to hire drivers to get around the city.
With vast expanses of desert wilderness and dunes to explore, off-road driving is a popular pastime in Qatar.
Driving Rules and Regulations
- Drive on the right-hand side of the road
- The minimum legal age for driving a car is 18
- It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving
- Wearing seatbelts is compulsory for front-seat passengers
- Drink driving is strictly prohibited; there is a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol levels
- A valid licence is required for all drivers, and all vehicles must be registered with the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department. Registration is valid for a year and then must be renewed annually
- Insurance is mandatory for all vehicles, and must be purchased in order to register the vehicle
- Driving licence and registration documents must be carried in the vehicle at all times
- Police must be called whenever an accident occurs, although vehicles can be moved to the side of the road in the case of minor collisions. Traffic police determine who is at fault in minor collisions
Traffic offences carry penalty points of varying length, and accumulating 14 points in a 12-month period results in a licence suspension. There is usually a three months’ ban for a first disqualification, with any subsequent disqualifications likely to result in longer bans and a lowering of the driver’s future points threshold. Road rage incidents, in particular making offensive hand gestures, can result in stiff penalties. More serious offences, such as drink driving or causing a bad accident, are likely to invoke criminal proceedings, with the risk of a prison sentence and deportation.
It should be noted that n Qatar, flashing of headlights by another car usually means ‘get out of my way’ rather than ‘after you’.
- For information on points and traffic violations from the Ministry of Interior: Click here
What to Carry in the Car
The driver’s licence and insurance documents for the vehicle must be kept in the car at all times.
Due to the extreme peak temperatures in the hot summer months, a good supply of water should be kept in the car in case of breakdown, as should a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher. For off-road desert driving, a four-wheel drive vehicle should be used, and other essential pieces of kit include a shovel and tow rope. Tyres should be deflated before driving on sand and re-inflated when returning to the road. Vehicles should always travel in convoy in the desert, never alone.