Despite being one of the smallest nations in the entire Middle East, Qatar is an import business and cultural hub for the region. Entering the country, you might be forgiven for thinking that you’ve set foot in a futuristic wonderland dotted with towering offices and hotels. In many ways, it mirrors the neighbouring UAE, but it’s a little more understated.
The country has been given the right to host the 2022 World Cup, which will help to really put Qatar on the map. Until then, visitors can go off-road driving in the desert, go shopping in downtown Doha, splash around in the Aqua Park or for something a little more genteel, go for a stroll around the Museum of Islamic Art.
What are the roads like in Qatar?
Qatar’s road network has vastly improved over the last few years. However, away from Doha and its outskirts, some of the older roads can be a little difficult to drive on, especially in high winds when visibility becomes an issue. By the time the World Cup starts, this issue should be fully rectified.
What are the drivers like in Qatar?
You may encounter incidents of road rage or some aggressive drivers. Accidents are surprisingly common here, which can be partly attributed to the heat and traffic congestion. However, strict driving laws are in place to reduce the risk of this happening. It is advisable to drive with care.
What are the best times to drive?
Avoid driving early weekday mornings and evenings if you can help it. Despite being a small country, traffic jams can be intense here, especially in Doha. A comparative lack of public transport means that commuters are almost wholly reliant on cars, exacerbating existing traffic problems. Weekends are a little more peaceful, but any time between 10am and 4pm is best for getting around.
What are the driving laws?
Front-seat passengers must wear a seatbelt at all times. All drivers must have a valid driving license and be fully-insured. All vehicles must be registered with the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department, while the licence and registration documents must be in the car at all times. It’s important to call the police when accidents happen on the road. It’s advisable to have water in the car at all times when driving.
If you’re caught drink-driving, then you may be at risk of either being imprisoned or deported.
Mobile phone use in a car is illegal in Qatar, and could carry a pretty stiff penalty.
Vehicles should travel in convoy when in the desert; never on their own.