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Why carry an IDP while driving in Qatar?

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world – it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit.

It translates your identification information into 12 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. Qatar highly recommends an International Driving Permit.

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The Top Destinations in Qatar

As one of the richest countries in the world, Qatar does not disappoint. Not only does it have a high Human Development Index, but it also hosts numerous flagship destinations and attractions that make Qatar an iconic nation. If you’re planning on visiting Qatar soon, here are some of the most interesting sites that you can drive to.

Katara Cultural Village

Katara Cultural Village is one of the unique museum complexes in the world. It is not only a museum, but it basically is a platform that brings together the multi-cultural character of Qatar. This is a melting pot of both traditional and contemporary visual artists and sculptors from all over the globe. Its 3,275m2 outdoor amphitheater also hosts occasional performance art, where about 5,000 people can watch.

Other activities you can do in the area include:

  • Shop different handicrafts
  • Shop books at the book market
  • Get a feel of ancient Qatar in the complex’s alleyways
  • Lounge on the beach
  • Parasail and go water-skiing on the village waters
  • Rest from the heat at the ice cream parlor
  • Drink chai tea and try the sweets at Chac’late
  • Look for the following sculptures: The Force of Nature II and Gandhi’s Three Monkeys
  • Visit the Opera House, the Drama Theatre, and the Katara Masjid

Travel Requirements

The Katara Cultural Village is located just within Doha. With this, you’ll have to drive through the major roads and highways. Ensure that you do not forget your native driving license and your valid International Driving License in Qatar. If you haven’t secured one yet, you can issue International Driving License in Qatar from the International Driver’s Association (IDA).

An International Driving License that’s valid in Qatar can also be used in all other countries that participated in the 1968 Road Traffic Convention. You don't need to apply for a local valid Qatari driving license or even another IDP every time you travel to a different country. As long as your IDP is still within its validity period, you can use it worldwide.

Souq Waqif

When you’re on the hunt for exotic products like spices, ingredients, textiles, bags, jewelry, and other middle eastern treasures, do not miss Souq Waqif. It is one (1) of Qatar’s oldest and biggest markets, and it’s very easy to get lost with all the interesting stalls and shops. But Souq Waqif is not just for shopping. Some other things that you can do in the area include:

  • Eat Kunafeh, a Turkish dessert
  • Pet a camel
  • Eat at Al Mourjan, overlooking the bay
  • Play backgammon at Majlis Al Dana house
  • Relax, chill and have shisha
  • Visit the Shebestan Palance
  • Chase pigeons at the square

Most shops in Souq Waqif open at 10:00 am - 12:00 noon, then reopen at 4:00 pm - 10:00 pm. For restaurants, most restaurants operate between 8:00 am until midnight, or until the wee hours of the morning.

Travel Requirements

Souq Waqif is located in a very busy district. Make sure to secure all your valuables when you’re going around the market, and don’t bring too much stuff. At the minimum, bring only your money, your native driving license, and your International Driver’s License for the Qatar zip code. An International Driving Permit is already a valid form of identification, and you can use it whenever you forgot to bring your passport when driving around Qatar.

If you don’t have an International Driving Permit or Driving License yet, getting an International Driver’s License in Qatar is fast and easy. All you need is an internet connection and prepare the International Driver’s License Qatar requirements. These include your valid native driving license, recent passport-size photos, and a credit card or PayPal account for the payment. For the International Driver’s License Qatar qualifications, you only need to be at least 18 years old to apply. Likewise, you won’t need to take an International Driver’s License Qatar exam to obtain an IDP.

Al Thakhira Beach

You can find numerous beaches within Doha. But, if you want to experience the sea in a more tranquil and peaceful environment, head on over to Al Thakhira Beach, just an hour north of Doha. There are several things to do in Al Thakhira other than just swimming on the wide beach. You can:

  • Go kayaking
  • Go bird watching
  • Tour the mangrove area and learn about the different mangrove species
  • Snorkel and see the vibrant species of corals
  • Bike or stroll along the boulevard

Flamingos, the Western Great Egret, and the Purple Heron are the most common birds you’ll see in the area. However, the best time to go birdwatching in Al Thakhira Beach is between September - November, and February - April.

Travel Requirements

Al Thakhira beach is located in Al Khor, about an hour’s drive from Doha. This means that you’ll be heading to another municipality with another set of traffic police. In case you are requested to present an I.D., you can use your IDP. You can get an International Driver’s License Qatar online and make sure to ask for their International Driver’s License Qatar sample before you purchase (to ensure it’s not a counterfeit).

If you get an IDP from the International Driver’s Association, you have the option to ship your International Driving License to Doha, Qatar, and get it once you arrive in the country. The cost of an International Driving License Qatar will depend on which IDP package you’ll choose and the validity of your IDP. With this, you don't have to get yourself a domestic valid Qatari driving license to drive in Qatar.

Msheireb Museums

The Msheireb Museums is a museum complex that consists of four (4) majestic houses. Visitors get to learn about the history of Qatar from different points of view. You’ll find the contents of the museums fascinating and the architectural design of the museums themselves.

The museum also hosts various events like design competitions, book launching events, art exhibits, and other cultural celebrations. You can visit the museum on the following schedules:

  • Monday to Thursday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Friday: 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Saturday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Some restaurants within the complex also open earlier. You can have breakfast at Empire Cafe from Saturday to Thursday as early as 7:00 am; and have late dinner at Al-Fai Restaurant up to 10:30 pm.

Travel Requirements

When you visit the museums, you may be asked to present a valid identification document. This is where your International Driving Permit in Qatar comes in. Again, your IDP doesn’t only serve as a valid driving permit, but you can also use it as a valid I.D. to enter establishments. Don't worry, you don't have to get yourself a valid Qatari driving license; your local driving license and IDP are enough for you to drive in Qatar.

How to get an International Driver’s License in Qatar? Well, all you need is to navigate to the homepage of the International Drivers Association website and click on the “shopping cart” button on the upper right-hand corner of the page. This will direct you to the online application form. Once your application is approved, do not forget to take note of your International Driver’s License Qatar number in case you need to follow it up or you need to report any concern.

An IDP for Qatar is not a single-use document, so getting one will not be a waste of resources. Apart from being able to use the International Driving License for Qatar driving, you can also use the same International Driving License from Qatar in other countries. You can read materials on the 1968 Road Traffic Convention and check the Qatar International Driving License valid countries list to know what other countries recognize a Qatar Driving Permit.

Barzan Towers

Suppose you want to see the desert skyline’s panoramic views, head on over to the Barzan Towers. The 19th-century towers were principally used as a watchtower to keep potential invaders (like the Ottomans) away. Visitors can climb up the internal steps, go to the topmost floor and see stunning views of both the desert and the Persian Gulf in the distance.

The towers also served as an astronomical observatory where scholars studied the moon’s phases to make the Hejry Calendar. So if you’re into observing and exploring the night sky, the Barzan Towers would be a good spot. Admission to the towers is free, and it is open to the public 24/7.

Travel Requirements

Apart from your driving documents, it would be nice if you can bring binoculars. Since the Barzan Towers give you spectacular views of the desert, wouldn’t it be exciting to look for camels in the wild?

For Qatar driving documents, if you already have an IDP prior to traveling to Qatar (because you also drove in another foreign country), make sure that your IDP is the 1968 version. For example, the International Driving License India is not valid in Qatar because India is only associated with the 1949 Road Safety Convention. If there are updates on the International Driver’s License Qatar and other Qatari driving rules and regulations, website advisories will also be posted by the International Drivers Association.

Inland Sea

If you want to ride through the desert, you can make the Inland Sea your destination. This vast body of hypersaline water is fed by water from the Persian Gulf through a narrow inlet, and it once served as a hiding place for middle-eastern pirates.

The Inland Sea has also developed a safe environment for different kinds of wildlife. When you visit the area, keep an eye out for desert foxes, cormorants, flamingos, ospreys, and sea turtles.

The area is a UNESCO Natural Reserve, but visitors are allowed to swim and camp in the area. Just make sure to bring enough reef-safe sunscreen, water, food, and layers (for cold nights). Imagine sleeping under the stars within the gushing desert wind and waking up to the golden sunrise across the clear horizon! The best time to visit the Inland Sea would not be during the summer when temperatures are at their highest.

Travel Requirements

All-Terrain Vehicles and 4x4’s are the only types of cars that can get you to the Inland Sea. This is because there are no permanent trails in the route, only desert sand, and dunes. With this, you’ll have to book a tour operator to drive you, or at least guide you to the area.

Some operators may allow their guests to drive the ATV in certain areas. However, you’ll still have to present a valid driving license. You can physically apply for an International Driver’s License at a Qatar office. Nevertheless, to save time, you are encouraged to apply in online platforms like the International Driver’s Association.

The Pearl

The Pearl is an arm’s reach retreat from the hustle and bustle of Doha. It is a luxury community located on an island just a couple of meters from Doha’s city center. Fortunately, The Pearl is not just for the rich and famous. There are also loads of exciting areas and activities for the budget traveler. You can do all sorts of activities at The Pearl, and here are some things that you can do:

  • Paint and sip coffee at the Artist Café
  • Stroll around Qanat Quartier and Medina Centrale
  • Try the coffee at Volume
  • Shop at Villaggio Mall
  • Indulge in some delicious Morrocan treats at Mssamen & Atai
  • Swim at play beach sports at Lido Venezia Beach
  • Join yoga classes at Niya Yoga
  • Try the crêpes at Yufkachi
  • Visit Souq Al Medina
  • Ride a tuk-tuk

Travel Requirements

Doha’s traffic management and monitoring system are very efficient, and it is constantly being improved. If you want to enjoy your Qatari driving experience while on your way to The Pearl, make sure to bring with you your International Driver’s License in Qatar. In case you are apprehended, stopped by traffic police, or a victim of a road incident, you’ll have to present your valid driving license. If your native driving license is not written in Arabic or English, your International Driving License will help you explain your identity.

Museum of Islamic Art

Qatar is home to so many cultural museums. Another one (1) that you shouldn’t miss is the Museum of Islamic Art. This museum exhibits artworks and sculptures both on the indoors and the outdoors! One of the most prominent features of the Museum of Islamic Art is its 5,000-seater outdoor amphitheater that hosts various artistic performances and social events. If you ask us, the architectural design alone of the entire complex is, in itself, already a work of art.

You need to buy admission tickets in advance at the museum’s website. There are also an outdoor park, a library and a restaurant in the area. The museum itself is open on the following schedules:

  • Saturday - Thursday: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Friday: 1:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Travel Requirements

When you go on a Qatari driving trip, you always have to bring your International Driver’s License to all Qatar zip codes or municipalities. This will give you peace of mind whenever you need to stop by traffic authorities. Even if you’re just going around Doha, like drive to the Museum of Islamic Art, always double-check that you have all your identification documents.

The Most Important Road Rules in Qatar

Getting to the different destinations is also another sought-after experience in Qatar. The roads are wide, traffic is mostly not congested, and you can still see the blue, middle-eastern sky amidst the towering buildings. But before going on your road trip, here are a few simple rules to remember when driving in Qatar.

Driving Below the Maximum Speed Limit

One of the leading causes of road accidents in Qatar is drunk driving and overspeeding. With this, the government has put up numerous speed monitors throughout the country to apprehend speed violators. To avoid having a bad driving record in a foreign country, make sure that you drive below the maximum speed limits.

  • City Roads / Major Built-up Areas - 60 km/hr
  • National Highways / Inter-Municipality Roads - 120 km/hr

Do Not Drink and Drive

Qatar has zero-tolerance for driving under the influence. Unlike many other countries that allow pre-determined maximum blood alcohol concentration, Qatar does not have any. This means that if you are caught driving with even less than 0.01% of alcohol in your blood (if that’s even possible to detect), you can be fined up to QR 50,000 and risk imprisonment of up to 36 months, depending on the level of violation. You can even have your International Driving Permit in Qatar confiscated only to be returned once you leave the country.

Drive on The Right-Hand Side of The Road

Qataris drive on the right-hand side of the road. This means that vehicles need to keep right when:

  • There is an oncoming vehicle from the opposite direction
  • There is another vehicle from behind that wants to overtake
  • There is low road visibility

If you are not used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, you can hire a driving instructor’s services. The skills you’ll learn are applicable in Qatar, and useful in other countries that drive on the right-hand side of the road.

Do Not Drive Without a License

The minimum legal driving age in Qatar is 18 years old. Individuals cannot even attend driving classes if they haven’t reached the age of 18. As such, even if you have a full driving license from your home country, but have not reached the age of 18, do not risk driving in Qatar. You can be charged for two (2) violations: underage driving and driving without a license (since your license will not be valid in Qatar).

For more information on the different tourist destinations mentioned above (including their driving directions), make sure to check out the driving guide for Qatar. In the driving guide, you’ll also find more travel how-to’s, include getting an International Driving Permit in Qatar, border requirements, road etiquette, and many more!

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