While the public transportation infrastructure exists, most of our expatriate community opt to buy a car or use taxi/chauffeur services. Driving in Doha can be challenging at first as it requires skill, patience, and self-control. The good news is that most people adjust to Doha driving conditions, and gasoline – sold by the liter – is very inexpensive compared to other countries. Additionally, Qatar is in process of completing a large-scale rail construction project with 4 underground metro lines and 100 stations planned to cover Doha and its suburbs. When complete, a metro line will link directly to the Education City, where GU-Q is located.
As in most countries, motorists drive on the right side of the road. The speed limits are 50, 60, 80, 100, and 120 kilometers per hour. In Education City the speed limit is 40 kph. Roundabouts are intersections that flow in a counter-clockwise direction, and usually are distinguishable by their circular design and are marked by a statue or monument of interest. Motorists may enter the roundabout from the left, center, or right lanes. Slower traffic, however, should remain on the right or center lanes. Some roundabouts only have two lanes.
Purchasing a Vehicle
If you plan on staying for more than a year, purchasing a car may be a good option, as the per-month cost is generally much cheaper than leasing the same vehicle, and the resale value of well-maintained cars in Doha is high. Both new and used internationally known cars are available for sale from individuals and dealerships. Many models are not exactly the same but similar to those available in other countries, and depending on the model, prices can be higher compared to U.S. prices. One source for used cars advertised by the Education City/expatriate community is called Maktabi (GU-Q email address is needed to register and use the platform). Another often used source is a Qatar Living (http://www.qatarliving.com) platform. Please note that you will not be able to purchase a car until your residence permit is issued. This will give you some time to look around, talk to people, and decide which option is best for you.
Leasing a Vehicle
If you choose to lease a car, insurance, regular maintenance, and repair are included in the leasing price. In addition, some leasing agents will come to the scene of an accident and handle relations with the police. They will also provide with a loaner vehicle if your car needs repair.Some leasing companies allow you to lease by the month, so you may turn in your car over winter or summer breaks. Leasing prices generally begin at QR1800 and up. The HR department can supply you with contact information and price lists for several leasing agents around Doha.
Chauffeur/Professional Transportation Services
An alternative to driving is to use a professional transportation service, like Karwa Taxi (4458-8888) or Fox Limo (4462-2777). Otherwise, chauffeur taxi booking companies like globally recognized Uber and locally grown Careem are also available. The easiest way to use Karwa, Uber or Careem services is through placing a trip request on a smartphone application.
Qatari driver’s licenses are required of all drivers and can be issued only after you receive your residence permit. Since it may take as long as 45 days or more for you to get your resident permit, we recommend that employees purchase an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP license is valid to drive with for 6 months or until you receive your residence permit.
International Driver’s PermitInternational Driving Permits should be purchased before leaving home country. In United States, they can be bought in AAA locations usually for a small fee ($15 as of March 2014). If you decide to use IDP in Qatar, please be certain to also keep with you your state driver’s license at all times, as the IDP is only valid in the presence of a state driver’s license. Qatari government requires that Resident Permit holders switch to a Qatari-issued license upon receipt of the Resident Permit.
Obtaining a Qatari Driver’s LicenseIn order to obtain a Qatari Driver’s License, you must first have applied for and received your residence permit. You must then fill out an application, undergo an eye exam, and pay 250 QR. Depending on which country you obtained you license from, you will either receive the Qatari Driving license immediately or will be required to take theoretical and practical test. Please note that the fee for the license is not a reimbursable expense. Please contact Immigration and Government Relations Manager in HR Department for an application and assistance.
Temporary Driver’s LicenseYou can get a temporary Qatari driver’s license while waiting for you permanent residence permit. The license will only be valid as long as your visa is and costs 250 QR. However, you are required to get a permanent driver’s license as soon as your residence permit has been issued.