Transport and Driving in Qatar

Public transport infrastructure in Qatar is not very well developed. The networks that do exist are disorganised and chaotic, therefore not really accessible for expats. 

As expats will realise nearly immediately, getting around and driving in Qatar isn't for the faint-hearted. The main highways, although relatively well maintained, can be badly sign-posted, traffic can be fast-moving, and roads and landmarks are often known by more than one name. All of these factors combine to make a truly memorable, if not incredibly stressful and confusing, Qatar driving experience.

Driving in Qatar

Time and again, expats report that there is a dangerous and unpredictable nature to driving in Qatar, and traffic accidents are frighteningly common.

The government is currently making efforts to improve road safety and curb irresponsible driving. It has introduced a large number of traffic cameras to help combat the problem and speeding fines can be very hefty. To some, however, the threat of these mean nothing and they continue to race along the roads. Nonetheless, as the government continues to implement the National Traffic Strategy, hope remains that accidents and deaths on Qatar's roads will decrease ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and will continue to do so thereafter. 

Navigating in Qatar

Qatar is growing at breakneck speed, and navigation can sometimes be a challenge as new roads and districts are opened and developed. Not to mention, up-to-date road maps of Doha are hard to come by. The capital is, however, a small city and, as quickly as someone can lose their way, it can be found again.

It's helpful for expats to keep an eye out for and navigate according to stand-out features on the Doha skyline. For example, the Aspire Zone Torch (next to Villagio Mall) can be seen from afar, as can the large Spiral Mosque near to the Souk Waqif and the Corniche.

There are four main ring roads that loop around the city but traffic jams are still common, particularly in the morning and early evening rush hours. Traffic is infamously bad on Thursday and Friday nights, especially heading towards the malls and the Corniche.

Road signs are in both English and Arabic, but are often vague. Street names, intersections and roundabouts have official names, but are occasionally known locally as something completely different. Expats should inquire about the official and colloquial place and street names when asking for directions.

Public transport in Qatar

There is practically no public transport in Qatar. There is a bus network, but one would be hard-pressed to find a Western expat who would have used it. 

Most expats either have their own vehicles, hire a car or use the relatively inexpensive and easy-to-book local Karwa taxis. There are also a few private taxi companies operating in Qatar, but these are slightly more expensive.

Richard Hatherell Our Expat Expert
In 2008 I swapped the dull and damp climate of the UK for the searing desert heat of the Arabian Gulf. 
I find that life in Qatar is what you make of it. There is always some something going on, the challenge is just to find it!
I work in television and enjoy all things creative and sport.