A Beginner's Guide to Driving in Qatar | expatwoman.com

A Beginner's Guide to Driving in Qatar

Driving in Qatar might take you some time to get used to. Here's what you should know, including fines and traffic violations.

Posted on

22 July 2013

Last updated on 2 January 2018
Guide to Driving in Qatar

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!

SEE ALSO: New mobile radars added in Qatar

Of 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!

Driving in doha
Photo: dohanews.co
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!

SEE ALSO: Two years in jail for sharing accident photos in Qatar

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. It's not uncommon to see several people driving with babies on their laps here. We 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 hefty and beware as some lights appear to change from green to red with just a glimpse of amber!
car accident

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, you should take numerous photos, if possible, before you move the vehicle, just in case there is any debate at a later time. 

SEE ALSO: What to do after a car accident in Qatar

If you are involved in anything other than a minor accident (especially if anyone is injured), the traffic department advises 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, the Qatari government has put in efforts in the past few years to make the traffic law strict in. The system here is a points-based system and includes severe penalties which can lead to a driving ban.

Qatar roads

The law

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.
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.

SEE ALSO: New mobile radars added in Qatar

Checking offences

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 do it here on the Ministry of Interior (“MOI”) website

SEE ALSO: 12 signs you've been an expat in Qatar too long

Enter your plate number and click submit. If there are no violations, it will state “No Violations” or alternatively a list will appear. 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.

Getting a ticket

Offence Points

Offence Points Fine (QR)
Jumping a red light 7 6000
Driving in the opposite direction 6 6000
Exceeding the maximum speed 4 500 + 100 for every 10km/h over
Not using the turn signal in advance 0 300
Driving with licence that hasn't been renewed 0 1500
Driving with suspended licence 3 3000
Driving an unregistered vehicle 2 3000
Driving a vehicle without number plates 3 3000
Unauthorised changes made to number plates 3 1500
Blocking the flow of traffic intentionally 3 500
Driver or front seat passenger aren't wearing a seat belt 0 500
Using mobile phone while driving 0 500
Parking offence 3 300
Driving without a licence or refusing to give it to the police 1 500

Other useful websites

An e-Government portal that allows citizens, residents, businesses and visitors to easily access government information and services any time

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!