Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Qatar?
There are so many people and so many cars squeezed onto Qatar's roads that it's becoming more and more congested so allow plenty of time for your journeys.
Much of Qatar is sand and whilst it can be fun to race over the dunes, it can be deadly if you get stuck with no means of rescue. Always take plenty of water, spare fuel and a means of communication with you.
Seat Belt Laws
In Qatar only people in the front of a vehicle need to wear a seat belt but if rear belts are fitted, you’d be advised to use them.
Drinking and Driving
There is zero tolerance of alcohol in Qatar as a strictly Muslim country. This means that if you drive after consuming alcohol and are caught, you’ll face stern penalties and, after a possible jail term, will be expelled from Qatar.
Must Have Documents
You must have an international driving permit or a local licence. UK drivers are exempt from the test to obtain a local licence and can get one simply by presenting their UK licence and paying a fee. You must also carry a valid insurance certificate and the vehicle registration documents.
The speed limits for Qatar are as follows:
Open roads/highways: 120 km/h
In town (residential/commercial): 60 km/h
In town arterial 100 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Qatar. If you are younger than 25 years old, check car rental conditions carefully before you book as you may not be allowed to hire a car or may face a daily premium to counter your inexperience.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are illegal in Qatar. Given the number of accidents and road deaths, it’s far better to simply stick to the limit.
On the Spot Fines
If you are caught committing a traffic offence, you’ll be given a ticket detailing the offence and the fine as well as where to pay it. For major offences, you’ll be requested to appear in court.
Child Safety Rules
In Qatar, there are no specific laws for child safety in cars other than children under 12 not being allowed to sit in the front of the car. If you are travelling with a young family, let us know your requirements when you book and we’ll ensure a suitable restraint system is fitted for the age of your children.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Qatar and you must carry proof of it by way of a valid certificate.
Rules of the Road
Standard European driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• When travelling over sand you must deflate your tyres – remember to re-inflate them when you hit the road again
• Take plenty of water with you in case of a breakdown
• A fire extinguisher and a first aid kit are compulsory
If heading into the desert, take a tow rope just in case you need rescuing. However it is illegal to tow a car on the roads with a rope in Qatar, you must have a proper tow bar.
There are no fixed speed cameras in Qatar but there are regular mobile speed traps. The high accident rate has led police to clamp down on speeding and you are certain to encounter speed traps during your time in Qatar.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
It’s illegal to talk or text on a mobile phone in Qatar whilst driving unless you have a hands free kit. A hefty fine applies if caught.
The sheer number of cars in Qatar means that parking is often a nightmare so it’s best to use the first space you find as it may be the last.
Paid parking can be in metered bays by the side of the road or in garages under buildings or malls. Many of the malls used to be free to park but charges are increasingly creeping in.
Enforcement of parking is done by the police but fairly infrequently. Don’t risk illegal parking though as the fines are steep if you’re caught.
The Blue Badge scheme is not recognised but if you show your badge, you may be given assistance in finding a more convenient space.
Motor Way Signs
Motorway signs in Qatar have white writing on a blue background and the writing is in Arabic and western alphabets
I have broken down - Naf sim balagam
Where is the police station? - Im bes utalarat?
I have a flat tyre - Naf sim panu malafa
I have been in an accident - Naf sim din belerogu
Where is? - Camzi uf?
Where can I buy petrol? - Camzi seken bezeni?
In Qatar, traffic lights follow the system set out in the Vienna Convention and so should be familiar to most drivers. You cannot turn on a red light unless there is an arrow indicating so.
There are no toll roads in Qatar although you’ll pay to cross the border into Saudi Arabia.
The emergency number in Qatar is the UK standard 999 for police and ambulance, you can also use 112.
What to do in an emergency
If you have a problem with your car you should phone the number given to you on the rental documents or attached to the windscreen of your car. If in your own vehicle, contact the local partner to your emergency assistance organisation back home.
In the event of an accident you must stop and call the police if there is even just a small amount of damage to cars or property or if there are any injuries, even if yours is the only car involved. The police will attend and decide on fault. Whilst waiting for them, the cars can be moved to the side of the road but photograph the scene first if possible.
As of September 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Qatar is 17p whilst diesel is 19p. Prices can vary between the capital and the smaller towns.