Qatar driving challenges and types of driving licenses.
Driving in Qatar
Driving in Qatar presents few challenges. Cars are left-hand drive, and the vast majority are automatic. Roads are generally in very good condition, even outside the city. Although normal road conditions should present few challenges, driving in Qatar might also mean dealing with less familiar hazards.
Driving a car in Qatar is therefore about applying common sense. It pays to be vigilant at all times. Keep the car in good nick. Don’t head blindly off-road unless you know exactly what you’re doing (and where you’re going). Oh, and keep your mobile charged, just in case.
Driving in Qatar is not just about hazards and challenges, however. The wide highways make getting around a doddle, and navigation is a cinch; the bilingual (Arabic and English) road signs are clear, and there’s always sat nav to rescue you from bother.
All matters related to driving and vehicle licensing in Qatar are handled by the Ministry of Interior’s Licensing Affairs Department.
Rules of the Road
Most rules for driving in Qatar are the same as elsewhere: seatbelts should be worn, talking on the phone, unless hands-free, is prohibited, you must stick to the speed limits and not run red lights. But there are some rules, which are less intuitive, that you should know before hitting the road in Doha.
Drinking and driving laws: There is zero tolerance for alcohol if you are driving. Not even one liqueur chocolate, nor one sip of beer. Nothing.
Road signs: Road signs are in both Arabic and English, and in kilometers rather than miles.
Safety Belts and car seats: Seat belts, if fitted, must be worn at all times in the front, but it's not compulsory on the back seat. You will, however, see many people not wearing them and, worse, a lot of young children loose in the cars. Car seats for children are not compulsory yet, although a new law is being discussed. If, for your own family’s safety you travel with a child seat, then Qatar Airways allows you to check one, free of charge.
The speed limit in Qatar
Speeding is a leading cause of accidents (and deaths) in Qatar. Speed limits vary from 60km/h in built-up areas to 120km/h on national highways.
Who can drive in Qatar?
The legal minimum driving age is 18. Holders of licenses issued in the EU, the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), Andorra, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, USA, and Vatican City can drive in Qatar for one week upon arrival. After that, a three-month Temporary Licence (cost QR150) is available from the Licensing Affairs Department. Alternatively, an International Driving Licence is valid in Qatar for six months from the date of arrival.
Types of Driving Licence
The type of driving licence required in Qatar depends upon the length of time a person has lived in the country, the origin of the national licence they currently hold, and whether or not they have resident’s status in Qatar.
If arriving in Qatar on a visitor’s visa it is possible to use a national licence from any country to drive a car for seven days, provided it is a rental vehicle. A driver who holds an International Driving Permit (IDP) may drive a rental vehicle for up to six months – or until the visa status changes from visitor to resident. The licence from the home country must be available for inspection as well as the IDP.
It is possible to obtain a temporary Qatar driving licence, which acts as an interim document between driving on an International Driving Permit and being eligible for a full Qatar licence. Application for this temporary licence must be made before beginning the process of applying for residency.
Once residency has been granted, it is necessary to obtain a Qatari driving licence.
International Driving Permit
To obtain an international driver’s permit, check with the national motoring organisation of the home country before leaving for Qatar.