Driving (Buying a Car, etc)
Only residents can buy cars in Qatar. Cars are quite affordable as they are imported Duty-free. Both the new and used car market in Qatar is huge, the number of expatriates living in Qatar contribute considerably to this market. Salwa road has many used car dealers and is the most popular. Negotiation on your part will most certainly land you a good deal and as always check for the manufactures guarantee. All it takes to transfer the ownership is for yourself and the current owner to go to the traffic department together and complete the required paperwork.
List of used car Dealers:
Abdullah Abdul Ghani & Bros Co Contact Number 4443 7000
Advantage Used Cars (Jaidah Motors) Contact Number 4446 6878
Al Fardan Automobiles Contact Number 4446 3500
Al Mana Used Car Company Contact Number 4467 3444
Doha Marketing Service Co. Contact Number 4447 7900
Mannai Trading Pre-owned Cars Contact Number 4455 8719
New Cars Center (Used Car Sales) Contact Number 4431 4685
Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co. Contact Number 4488 8618
New cars are registered by the dealers. Upon registration a registration card is issued with the ownership details, vehicle specifications and insurance. The registration card has to be renewed yearly.
Used cars can be re-registered at the Traffic Department on Al Khalifa Street. An application form completed in Arabic must be submitted at the registration counter. After paying the QR 20, you will be issued with a new registration card.
Driving in Qatar: Traffic Offences and Fines
Driving in a strange country is stressful enough, but falling foul of the local driving laws can be very worrying, and indeed costly. This article will advise you on what to expect when driving in Qatar, how to avoid an offence, where to check to see if you have committed an offence and if so how to go about settling any subsequent fine.
Driving in Qatar
Driving in Qatar is of a much lower standard that in most western countries. The most problematic areas appear to be roundabouts, where cars do not keep within their lanes and often are in the wrong lane for the turning they intend to take. This of course does not deter most drivers from trying to cut across other lanes to get to their destination! You will sometimes feel that you sit forever at a roundabout waiting for an opening and you will soon learn that you just have to go for it! If course if you do pause for too long you will be subtlety reminded by the person behind you whose hand will appear to be stuck to the horn! During busy times the roundabouts will be manned by police to control the flow of traffic. Be aware that some drivers will also tailgate and flash their lights if they consider that you are driving too slowly. In this situation you should if possible move over to another lane and avoid any ‘road rage’. In Qatar hand gestures can result in imprisonment. You will learn that a few choice mutterings to yourself will suffice!
Finding your way around Qatar is actually easier than you think when you first arrive. As long as you have your Marhaba map it’s hard to get really lost, despite the fact that most roads have no names! Doha is quite a small town really and you will find that you always stumble across a landmark sooner or later. The longer you are here the more confidence you will have and you will soon find yourself following other cars and finding short cuts, believe me you will make use of that four wheel drive option here!
Child car seats are not mandatory in Qatar and you will often see children bouncing around the car without being secured by even a seatbelt. I have actually seen several people driving with babies on their laps here and every time I see that it still shocks me to the core. I advise securing any children in a properly approved and fitted car seat at all times.
Speed cameras are located throughout Qatar so be vigilant and watch your speed. The fine for not stopping at a red light is now QR5,000 and beware as some lights appear to change from green to red with just a glimpse of amber!
If you do have an accident whilst in Qatar and if it is considered only a minor accident you are allowed to move the vehicle to the roadside. It is then advised that you obtain the driver’s details such as name, car registration, mobile number and ID number and then arrange a time for you both to meet at the traffic department in order to report the accident. However I would also advise that you take numerous photos, if possible, before you move the vehicle, just in case there is any debate at a later time. If you are involved in anything other than a minor accident (especially if anyone is injured) the traffic department advise that you do not move the vehicles but contact the police on 999.
It is worth mentioning here that if your vehicle is damaged in any way other than through an accident with another vehicle (i.e. backing into a lamppost, damage in a car park etc.) then you will be unable to get this damage repaired at a garage without a police report.
Traffic Offences and Penalties
In order to curb the high number of road deaths and reckless accidents (in 2007 there was a ratio of 30 deaths per 100,000 head of population compared to 5.5 per 100,000 in the UK) the Qatari government recently enacted a new traffic law. This introduces a new points based system and includes severe penalties which can lead to a driving ban.
In essence the new law states that:
1. When a driver reaches 14 points a diving licence may be suspended for three months;
2. If after the first ban the same person gathers a further 12 points their driving license will be suspended for six months;
3. Nine months on the accumulation of the next 10 points;
4. One year for the next eight points; and
5. Ultimately their driving license will be cancelled if the driver then accumulates another six points.
Once a driving licence has been cancelled it can only be issued again once the driver has re-taken his driving test.
In addition to the points, monetary fines can be, and are, severe.
A major difference between Qatar and most Western countries is that drivers are not informed here when a driving offence has been committed. Therefore it is vitally important that you check regularly to see if there is an offence against your vehicle. If you do not check regularly and you try to leave the country with a fine outstanding then it is likely that you will not be allowed to leave the country until it has been paid.
Luckily, with access to the internet it is very easy for you to check to see if any offences have been committed. The easiest way is to go to the Ministry of Interior (“MOI”) website ( www.moi.gov.qa). It is likely the window will open in Arabic in which case you should click on the “English” option. You will see a list of “E” Options which at the time of writing were located on the right hand side of the page. The sixth option is “Traffic Violations”. By clicking on this link an option to enter a licence plate number will appear. Enter your vehicle number and click submit. If there are no violations it will state “No Violations” or alternatively a list will appear and each offence will have a reference number, date, time, description (sometimes blank), location and number of points incurred together with the amount of the fine. There is an option at the bottom of the list called “settlement of fines”.
Alternatively there are a number of MOI booths located in and around Doha where you can settle the violations and have your points added to your licence (such as the city centre mall).
The following is just a selection of offences that are currently in force together with the number of points associated with each one.
Jumping a red light 7
Driving in the opposite direction 6
Exceeding the maximum speed 4
Driving recklessly and dangerously 4
Driving with defective brakes 4
Driving with inappropriate licence 3
Driving with stripped or invalid licence 3
Driving an unregistered vehicle 3
Driving a vehicle without number plates 3
Unauthorised changes made to number plates 3
Blocking the flow of traffic intentionally 3
Driving a polluting vehicle 3
Driving a vehicle that leaks any material that can damage the road 3
Driving a vehicle which drops loads which can endanger the public safety 3
Making a wrong U-turn 3
Parking offence 3
Giving the licence to someone who has no licence 2
Driving a vehicle with unclear number plates 2
Refraining from giving driving licence to traffic police 1
Using lights, horns, microphones, or other machines against the law 1
Disobeying traffic signs 1
Other useful websites
Hukoomi - http://portal.www.gov.qa/wps/portal/homeEN
Enjoy your time here in Doha, don’t be afraid to get out there and explore, it really is worth the effort. Stay safe and happy motoring!
Drivers License - You can drive a rental car for one week with a valid current drivers license from your country of origin. Within the week a temporary drivers license can be obtained from the Madina Khalifa Traffic Department that would be valid for the duration of your visa. The requirements are:
• A completed application form in Arabic
• Original license from country of origin,
• Copy Of Passport
• Three Passport Size Photos.
• An eye test
If you have a valid driving licence from your country of origin, you can drive a rental car for a period of seven days. However, if you have an international driving licence, there is no time limit. Before the seven-day period is up, you will need to get a temporary driving licence that is valid for the period of your visa. All nationalities may exchange their country of origin’s licence for a temporary Qatar licence, however you may not do so if you have already started the residence visa process. If this has been started, you will have to wait for the visa before applying for a permanent licence.
To obtain the temporary licence, you will need to apply in person at the Madinat Khalifa Traffic Department, where you will be required to complete an application form. This will have to be completed in Arabic (there are a number of typing shops within the confines of the traffic department who will assist, for a small fee). If you have entered the country on a business visa, your sponsor will need to sign the form.
The documents required for a temporary licence are:
• Application form as above
• Original licence from country of origin
• Original passport or your Qatar ID card
• Passport copy
• Three passport photographs (remember, if you normally wear glasses, you should be wearing them in the photo)
Upon presentation of the above documents you will undergo an eye test, which is performed there and then on the premises. Then pay the cashier the fee of QR 150 - you will need a credit card as no cash payments are accepted. You should be able to collect the licence the following day.
A temporary licence allows you to drive rental cars; however you may not be insured to drive a privately owned car – this is purely at the discretion of the individual insurance company and they should be contacted to ensure coverage.
Upon receipt of your residence visa, you will be able to apply for a permanent licence, which is valid for five years. If you are caught driving without a licence, the penalty can start at QR 100 and above, as the driving laws in Qatar have become stricter. Holders of GCC driving licences can obtain a permanent Qatar driving licence automatically, regardless of their country of origin. The majority of European and western licences can also be automatically exchanged; however, due to the constantly changing regulations, it is prudent to check with the traffic department at the time of applying.
If you do have an exchangeable licence, you will need to apply in person at the Madinat Khalifa Traffic Department (489 0666) and complete an application form that then needs to be typed in Arabic and signed by your sponsor.
The documents required for a permanent licence are :
• Application form (as above)
• Original licence from country of origin
• No objection letter from your sponsor (in Arabic)
• Copy of trade licence (if you are sponsored by a company)
• Copy of your sponsor’s ID
• Original passport or your Qatar ID card
• Passport copy
• Three passport photographs
Upon presentation of the above documents, you will undergo an eye test, which is performed immediately on the premises. Pay the cashier a fee of QR 155 (no cash payments are accepted so take your credit card). You should be able to collect the licence the following day.
If you are from a country that is not allowed to automatically exchange licences, you will have to undergo a driving test. This involves both an oral test and a road test. The tests are conducted in manual transmission cars and there may be up to four people in the car, each one taking turns to drive. During the holy month of Ramadan (which rotates throughout the calendar year based on the lunar cycle) ladies are not permitted to take a road test.
Cash is not accepted when paying for your driver’s license application so ensure you have your credit card with you. The driver’s license normally takes a day.
For learners driving in Qatar can be a daunting task. Driving schools can help alleviate some of the difficulties you may encounter.
List of Driving Schools and Instructors:
Al Rayah Driving School Contact Number 4487 7774
Doha Driving Centre Contact Number 4479 2263
Gulf Driving School LLC Contact Number 4465 2822
United Driving Company Contact Number 4468 1003