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Qatar Driving Guide

Qatar is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2023-11-21 · 9 mins

Qatar, though modest in size, is known as the wealthiest nation globally. This Middle Eastern destination offers an array of experiences beyond its luxury facade. Travelers can enjoy stunning beaches, sprawling dunes, and a rich tapestry of arts, architecture, and culture.

Tourists might find the idea of driving in Qatar daunting, partly due to local driving habits, including aggressive horn honking and high-speed driving. Additionally, despite legal age restrictions, instances of underage driving for social status are reported. Another aspect to consider is the frequent traffic congestion.

Those who have traveled in the Middle East will be familiar with how people constantly complain about the driving. In fact, you could say that the greatest fear of the Western expatriate is the traffic. To those unfamiliar with the Middle East, the traffic can be summarized in one word: aggressive.

Nicholas Sawarna shares in his post, Traffic in Qatar - Driving You Insane, published on Hzieglier.

Discover Qatar Beyond Doha

While Doha's public transportation system is a viable option for city exploration, renting a car becomes more practical for a far-reaching journey across Qatar. The best road trips aren’t confined to its capital; Doha boasts broad, smooth roads against towering structures and expansive blue skies.

Qatar driving can be intimidating, frustrating and even dangerous. Experienced drivers, however have adapted and found - knowing what to expect can be half the battle. You won't be able to change the system or the drivers - at least not in the short term, so better to adapt and save yourself the anguish.

Driving in Qatar, published on Oasis Cars.

We crafted this guide to encourage you to venture beyond Doha and immerse yourself in the country's historical and natural wonders for a memorable adventure.

Let's Take a Closer Look at Qatar

Before diving deeper into Qatar's driving culture and etiquette, here are some interesting facts about one of the richest countries in the world:

Geographic Location

Qatar is located on the Arabian Peninsula, encompassing an area of approximately 11,571 km². It is bordered by the Persian Gulf to the north and east, the Gulf of Bahrain to the west, and Saudi Arabia to the south. The country lies about 45 nautical miles southeast of Bahrain and around 161.63 miles west of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.


Arabic is the official language of Qatar. English is also widely spoken, a legacy of the British colonial era from 1916 to 1971. This bilingualism is beneficial in a country where over 80% of the residents are expatriates. While learning Arabic can be advantageous, especially in the Arab world, English is commonly used in Qatar.

Land and Climate

Qatar's territory, divided into eight municipalities, including the capital, Doha, primarily features flat terrain, with the Dukhan Hills being the highest elevation in the west. It experiences a hot and arid climate with limited rainfall, especially in the summer months from June to September when temperatures often exceed 40°C.

The best times to visit Qatar are spring and autumn, with more moderate temperatures at night. Sandstorms are common in the spring, and the country averages 75.2 mm of rainfall annually, mainly during the winter months of December to February.


Archaeological findings in Al Khor from the 1970s revealed evidence of Qatar's prehistoric period dating back to around 5340-5285 B.C. The early inhabitants were hunters and gatherers who later developed skills in pottery, influenced by Iraq.

Walled towns appeared in the 4th millennium B.C., and written records began in the following millennium. Commerce in Qatar dates back over 5,000 years, but it was not until the 9th century B.C. that camels became a primary mode of transportation.

Prior to the spread of Islam in the 7th century A.D., paganism was widespread in Qatar. The country experienced Portuguese influence in the 15th-17th centuries and British influence in the 19th century. Qatar gained independence from British rule in 1971.


Qatar operates under a constitutional monarchy where the ruler, or Emir, holds both executive and legislative authority, including appointing the prime minister. The Central Municipal Council, consisting of 29 members, is elected by the public.


Qatar positions itself as a premier luxury travel destination, leveraging its status as one of the world's wealthiest countries. Demonstrating a longstanding commitment to tourism, Qatar has consistently invested heavily in its infrastructure. As a result, since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a continuous and robust increase in tourist arrivals.

International Driving Permit FAQs

An International Driver's Permit (IDP) is essential for driving in foreign countries, including Qatar. It serves as a translation of your home country's driving license and is particularly useful if you don't speak Arabic or English or if local authorities are unfamiliar with your country's license format.

Qatar adheres to the 1968 Road Traffic Convention, so your IDP is valid in countries that are also part of this convention.

Do I Need an International Driving Permit in Qatar?

Yes. In Qatar, possessing an International Driving Permit is crucial for legal driving and renting vehicles, as most rental services require a complete license for insurance purposes.

Your IDP, alongside your native license, facilitates car rentals and is also accepted as valid identification in various establishments like hotels and museums. The digital version of the IDP, accessible via email, offers convenience and security.

Can I Use My Native Driving License in Qatar Without an IDP?

Residents of certain countries can use their domestic driving licenses in Qatar for up to seven days after arrival. These countries include members of the European Union, GCC countries, and others such as Australia, Canada, Japan, and the USA.

For stays beyond one week, you'll need an International Driving License (valid for six months) or a temporary Qatari driving license (valid for three months).

Do I Need to Take a Driving Test in Qatar To Get an IDP?

If you have a valid driving license from your home country, you don't need to take a driving test in Qatar to obtain an IDP. Those applying for a complete local Qatari driving license must undergo testing.

Is An International Driving License Valid in Qatar?

First, we'd like to clarify that there is no “International Driver’s License” but an International Driver’s Permit.

It is an essential document endorsed by The United Nations Convention on Road Traffic for foreign drivers who wish to rent and drive a vehicle. An IDP is a translation of your home country's valid driver's license, supporting local road traffic authorities when dealing with international drivers.

The IDP and your valid national driver's license are generally recognized by car rental companies, facilitating the speedy rental process for tourists.

Who is Eligible for an IDP?

Anyone is eligible for an IDP at 18, provided you have a valid full driving license from your home country. Applying for an IDP doesn't require enrolling in a driving school in Qatar. The IDP is a translation document, assuming you already possess the necessary driving skills and knowledge.

Requirements for IDP Application

To apply for an IDP, you'll need:

  • A valid full driving license
  • Two passport-size photos
  • A PayPal account or credit card for payment

How Can I Get an International Driving Permit?

To acquire an International Driving Permit (IDP), you must approach an authorized entity, such as a government body, driving school, driving club, or travel agent.

For a swift and hassle-free process, the International Drivers Association offers a quick application that takes roughly 10 minutes, with the option of express shipping to receive your IDP within 20 minutes.

To apply for an International Driving Permit, follow these steps:

1. Visit our website's homepage.

2. Click on the shopping cart icon at the page's top right corner.

3. Choose an appropriate IDP Plan.

4. Fill out your details in the application form.

5. Provide your delivery information.

6. Complete the payment for your IDP.

7. Proceed with identity verification.

8. Await confirmation of your application

Renting a Car in Qatar

Exploring Qatar by renting a private vehicle offers a unique and personal country experience. Once you've obtained your International Driving Permit, renting a car in Qatar becomes easier.

Car Rental Companies

You'll find numerous car rental agencies, especially in Doha. Many of these companies have online platforms for easy reservation. It's important to research and compare different rental services, considering customer reviews and their offerings.

Some reputable car rental companies in Qatar include:

  • Al Muftah Rent A Car
  • Strong Rent a Car
  • Sixt Rent a Car
  • Oasis Rent a Car
  • Hertz Rent A Car
  • Epic Rent a Car
  • Al Saad Rent a Car Co WLL
  • Avis Rent a Car
  • Jabrco Rent a Car
  • Ocean Rent a Car
  • Europcar Qatar
  • Al-Futtaim Vehicle Rentals
  • Budget Rent A Car

Required Documentation

To rent a car in Qatar, you will need:

  • Your International Driving License for Qatar
  • Your native driving license
  • Your passport (original)
  • A credit card for security deposit purposes

Vehicle Types

Qatar offers a range of vehicle options, from luxury supercars to economical sedans and hatchbacks. Regardless of your choice, ensure it suits your intended routes, especially if driving through sandy terrain.

Car Rental Cost

Rental prices vary based on the car type and rental duration. Average daily rates are:

  • Economy/Compact Cars: USD 12
  • Standard/Intermediate Cars: USD 16.5
  • Passenger Vans: USD 49
  • Premium SUVs: USD 36
  • Luxury SUVs: USD 47

To minimize costs, consider booking in advance, avoiding unnecessary upgrades, refueling yourself, and cleaning the car before returning it.

Age Requirements

You must be 21 years old to rent a car in Qatar. Drivers aged 21-25 and those over 70 may incur additional charges due to perceived lower experience or higher risk.

Car Insurance Cost

Several factors influence the price of car insurance in Qatar:

  • Current market value of the vehicle
  • Age of the renter
  • Renter's driving experience
  • Renter's driving record
  • Duration of the car rental

Precise insurance rates can vary based on the insurance provider. Qatar recognizes both local and international insurance companies. When choosing a car rental service, inquire about their insurance policies and the companies they partner with.

Car Insurance Policies in Qatar

In Qatar, it's mandatory for motor vehicles to have a minimum of 12 months of insurance before registration. At the very least, vehicles must be insured with third-party coverage that includes injury and damage liability. Additional insurance coverages are optional but recommended.

When renting a car in Qatar, rental companies may require additional insurance coverage, such as Personal Accident Insurance, Collision Damage Waiver, Roadside Assistance, and Theft Protection. Opting for extra coverage is advisable to ensure comprehensive protection in case of accidents, especially if the rental only has basic third-party insurance.

You can opt for a comprehensive car insurance policy for more extensive coverage. Rental companies can direct you to their affiliated insurers for such policies, which cover all costs, even in cases of fault by the renter.

Requirements for Obtaining Car Insurance in Qatar

You have the option to buy car insurance on your own before renting a vehicle. For added convenience, the rental company can also set up the insurance for you, and you'll be responsible for covering the cost.

To be eligible for car insurance in Qatar, provide:

  • A valid native driver's license
  • Your International Drivers Permit

However, it’s important to remember that having insurance doesn’t condone irresponsible driving. Insurance claims may be denied for accidents caused by:

  • Violating traffic regulations
  • Off-road driving without appropriate insurance
  • Intentional damage to the vehicle
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Using the vehicle for unauthorized purposes

Qatar boasts commendable road conditions, but driver awareness of traffic laws, as outlined in the 2007 Traffic Law, is crucial to maintaining safety. Understanding and adhering to these regulations is key to a smooth driving experience in Qatar.

Driving Orientation

In Qatar, vehicles operate on the right-hand side of the road, with drivers seated on the left side of the car. You should drive on the right side in the following scenarios:

  • When turning right
  • When encountering oncoming traffic from the opposite direction
  • When being overtaken by another vehicle
  • In conditions of low visibility

Although driving on the right is common in about 70% of the world, practicing before heading onto major roads in Qatar is advisable, especially for those accustomed to different driving cultures.

Stay updated with any changes in road laws through announcements by the Qatar Traffic Department.

The legal age to drive in Qatar is 18 years. Regardless of whether you possess a full driving license from your home country, if you're under 18, it's illegal to drive in Qatar.

Zero Tolerance for Drunk Driving

Qatar strictly enforces a zero-tolerance policy towards drunk driving. Any trace of alcohol in a driver's system can lead to fines ranging from QR10,000 to QR50,000 and imprisonment for 1 to 36 months.

Parking Regulations

Parking is only allowed in designated areas. Illegally parked vehicles incur a QR300 fine. Illegal parking includes:

  • On pedestrian crossings
  • On bridges, underpasses, and near curves
  • Within 15 meters of crossroads, roundabouts, and transport stations
  • Where it obstructs traffic signs
  • In front of essential services like hospitals and schools without permission

Additional Road Rules in Qatar

Qatar strictly enforces various traffic regulations, including:

  • Prohibiting mobile phone use and viewing visual materials while driving
  • Restricting children under ten years from sitting in the front seat
  • Banning unauthorized advertisements on vehicles
  • Mandating drivers involved in road incidents not to drive away
  • Requiring vehicles to have alarms for approaching hazards
  • Enforcing seatbelt use
  • Permitting overtaking only on the left side
  • Prohibiting overtaking in certain areas like roundabouts and pedestrian crossings
  • Avoiding abnormally low driving speeds

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Qatar are typically:

  • 60 km/hr in cities and major built-up areas
  • 120 km/hr on national highways and inter-municipality roads

Qatar uses a point system for traffic violations. Exceeding 14 points can lead to license suspension for residents. Foreigners may risk having their IDP confiscated, returned only upon leaving the country.

Emergency vehicles like police, ambulances, and fire engines are exempt from these limits when responding to emergencies.

Qatar provides clear public driving directions with Arabic and Roman Alphabet signs. Road markings also guide lane usage. Navigational software, either on mobile phones or as a built-in feature in rental cars, can be a useful tool for navigating, especially during heavy traffic.

Traffic Signage

Qatar follows international standards for traffic signs, with warning signs typically triangular, regulatory signs circular, and directional signs rectangular. While some signs are in Arabic, focusing on the symbols is key.

  • Warning Signs: Alert about road hazards like sharp turns and repairs.
  • Regulatory Signs: Include no stopping, one-way, and speed limit signs.
  • Directional Signs: Provide location and directional information like street names.

Right of Way

Emergency vehicles in operation, such as police and ambulances, are exempt from traffic rules and should be given the right of way. Drivers should move aside carefully without obstructing these vehicles.

Overtaking Laws

Overtaking in Qatar should be executed on the left side, ensuring clear visibility ahead and no obstructions or oncoming traffic. It should not be attempted in areas like roundabouts, intersections, and narrow streets. Violating overtaking laws can result in a fine of at least QR500.

Driving Etiquette in Qatar

Understanding and practicing proper driving etiquette in Qatar is essential for ensuring your safety and the safety of others on the road, beyond merely following the traffic laws.

Handling Car Breakdowns or Collisions

In the event of a vehicle breakdown or collision:

  1. Stay calm and composed.

2. Provide immediate assistance to any injured parties.

3. Promptly contact the police for help.

4. Do not move your car from the accident scene if there are injuries or significant
vehicle damage.

5. If there are no injuries, seek police permission to move your vehicle to a nearby service

6. Accurately provide your name and address to the police.

Police Encounters

Traffic police in Qatar often conduct vehicle and driver checks. Be prepared to present your driver's license, vehicle registration, insurance, and other relevant documents. When stopped by the police:

  • Safely pull over to the side of the road.
  • Politely present your documents to the officers.
  • Respond to their questions clearly and calmly.
  • Express gratitude and courtesy when concluding the interaction.

Asking for Directions

If lost, you can ask for directions while maintaining courtesy and respecting local customs. When approaching someone for help, greet them politely and thank them afterward.

You can use these phrases in English or Arabic:

  • "Hello!" / "Marhabaan!"
  • "May I ask for your help?" / "Hal li 'an 'atlub musaeidatak?"
  • "Can you tell me where this is?" / "Hal ymkn 'an tukhbarani 'ayn hdha?"
  • "Thank you very much!" / "Shukraan jazilaan!"


In Qatar, checkpoints are mainly for immigration control at airports, land borders, and seaports. Special checkpoints may be established during significant events for public safety.

Safe Driving Practices

Safe driving encompasses:

  • Being aware of your surroundings and not just focusing on the road ahead.
  • Adhering to traffic rules at all times, regardless of police presence.
  • Using lights and horns appropriately, not as a nuisance.
  • Demonstrating patience, allowing space for other drivers to maneuver.
  • Being mindful of other vehicle's blind spots, especially when turning or overtaking.
  • Maintaining lane discipline except when navigating onto ramps or side streets.

At intersections without traffic signals:

  • Slow down and check both directions.
  • Remember that vehicles approaching from the left generally have the right of way.
  • Prioritize patience and courtesy, giving way to other vehicles whenever possible.

Parking Etiquette

Proper parking involves:

  • Parking within a single marked spot, avoiding occupying multiple spaces.
  • Respecting other drivers' signaled intentions for a parking space.
  • Ensuring your vehicle is parked evenly within the designated area.
  • Following the parking lot's layout, parking diagonally only if indicated.

Driving Conditions in Qatar

Qatar's robust economy has led to a significant increase in vehicle ownership, impacting road safety. Thus, the country has been actively working to enhance road safety through stringent traffic regulations and the Road Safety Strategy 2013-2022.

Qatar is known for having lower road mortality rates in the Middle East. There has been a consistent decline in road fatalities per 100,000 people since 1992. Despite this positive trend in fatality reduction, the incidence of injuries and vehicle damages remains high, necessitating continued vigilance from drivers.

Key factors contributing to road accidents in Qatar include:

  • Lack of road markings in high-risk areas
  • Underage driving
  • Adverse weather conditions, particularly in winter and autumn
  • Use of high-speed vehicles by unqualified drivers
  • Vehicles not meeting safety standards
  • Distracted driving, such as using mobile phones while driving

Vehicle Types and Police Vehicles

Qatar offers a diverse range of vehicles, including luxury and high-performance models. A notable feature is the color-coded police cars, each indicating their specific function:

  • Rescue Police: Black and white
  • Traffic Police: Blue, white, and yellow
  • Internal Security Forces: Red and yellow
  • Amiri Guard and Royal Guard Brigade: Gold and black, or green and white

Toll Roads

As of the current date, Qatar has toll roads like the Doha Expressway, but toll collection is not yet fully operational. The proposed toll system is expected to be advanced, with real-time tariff calculation based on traffic congestion, aiding in route planning and time-saving.

Road Conditions

Qatar's roads, particularly major highways, are typically broad and well-maintained, with two to four lanes per carriageway. The roads are well-paved and illuminated, reducing concerns about driving at night or encountering potholes.

However, the road network, especially in Doha, can be complex, featuring numerous interchanges and roundabouts. Drivers may encounter roads retaining the same name after branching off or encounter unnamed service roads and ramps, requiring attention to distance-based directions.

Exploring Qatar's Top Destinations

With an International Driving Permit and other essential documents, you're ready to explore Qatar's rich number of destinations. Here's a guide to some of the best places to visit in Qatar:

Katara Cultural Village

Named after the ancient moniker for Qatar, Katara Cultural Village is a celebration of the country's diverse cultural history. Established as a global hub for multicultural arts, it is a testament to Qatar's long-standing cultural diversity.

Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif is a testament to the Middle East's rich market heritage, offering a wide range of products from textiles and spices to traditional crafts.

Al Thakhira Beach

Located in Al Khor, Al Thakhira Beach boasts a 10 km coastline featuring mangroves, abundant birdlife, and serene natural beauty.

The Pearl

For those seeking luxury, The Pearl offers an array of high-end amenities and experiences, from opulent shopping to gourmet dining, in a beautifully designed island community.

Museum of Islamic Art

Situated on the Corniche, the Museum of Islamic Art is a masterpiece designed by architect I. M. Pei. It houses an extensive collection of Islamic art spanning 1,400 years, making it a must-visit for art and history enthusiasts alike.

Get an IDP to Explore Qatar

If you're seeking a thrilling adventure or a journey through art and architecture, consider Qatar your upcoming holiday spot! Secure an International Driving Permit to fully experience the country's blend of historical richness combined with contemporary luxury and natural beauty.


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