About Qatar (QA)
One of the wealthiest per capita countries in the Middle East, Qatar (QA) occupies a peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf, situated west of the United Arab Emirates and east of Saudi Arabia and the island emirate of Bahrain. Although Qatar is not considered a tourist destination on par with Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the city of Doha is emerging as a cosmopolitan center for business and luxury resorts, shopping malls, and man-made islands. The majority of foreign travelers are involved in Qatar’s oil and natural gas industry. The region’s harsh landscape and inhospitable climate compels most leisure tourists to take a pass on Qatar.
Driving in Qatar will be familiar to expats with Middle Eastern road experience. Otherwise, heavy traffic and an impenetrable driving code create a formidable challenge for beginning and intermediate motorists. While government-owned roads are generally in good condition, the highways are ruled by big-tire SUVs and assault vehicle-type Hummers. Safety is not a priority on Qatari roads — something to consider if you’re considering a car hire in Qatar. Perhaps the only redeeming quality of driving in Qatar may be found in the rolling dunes of Khor Al Udeid, a prime destination for off-road enthusiasts. Otherwise, like many other Middle Eastern countries, general wisdom holds that if you must drive in Qatar, go with one of the biggest car hire vehicles available.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Qatar are supplied by names with instant brand recognition — Alamo, Dollar, Sixt, Europcar, Hertz, and Thrifty. All vehicle types are well-represented. Choose from minicars, compact hatchbacks, economy, standard, premium and luxury 4-door sedans, estate wagons, and 7-12 seater minivans. However, you’re advised to rent a car on the larger side of the spectrum, so definitely check out the selection of SUVs.
Tips and advice
Qataris are more than happy to have you visit their country, but they take extreme umbrage to any and all forms of disrespect. First-time visitors are frequently unaware that they’ve offended someone — particularly on the roads, where it’s crucial that you avoid any sort of road rage/offensive gesture common in your home country, e.g. giving someone the finger.
Most destinations in Qatar don’t have street numbers in their addresses. Nearly all places will be reached using landmarks such as: across from the W Hotel in Westbay.
Google Maps has a hard time with navigation in Qatar. GPS does a slightly better job, but it’s extremely important that you have a solid idea where you’re headed before hitting the road.
Qatari roads can be broken down into three categories: major, minor, and access roads. Main roads are multi-lane expressways that connect Doha with outlying areas. Minor roads link to major roads for access to smaller towns. Access roads generally bypass main roads in order to alleviate congestion, but tend to be even more jammed than major roads.
Due to government efforts to crack down on lawlessness, fines for traffic violations are extortionate, even by Middle Eastern standards.
Foreigners who break the law in Qatar are typically deported without delay.