Safety and security
Around 20,000 British nationals live in Qatar, and approximately 10,000 visas are issued. Most visits are trouble-free.
Although crime levels are low, female visitors should take extra care when travelling alone at night.
Only use registered taxis. When using apps, check licence plates and confirm with drivers the passenger name. Let someone know you are on the way home and the registration details of the car.
You can drive in Qatar with a valid UK driving licence for up to 12 months. If you intend to drive using your UK licence in Qatar, you should obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before travelling. If you’re staying longer than 12 months, you will need to apply for a Qatari driving licence and sit both the theory and practical tests.
You should obtain a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) if you plan to drive on your UK licence. You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.
If you’re living in Qatar, check the Living in Qatar guide for information on licence requirements for residents.
Road discipline is very poor; speeds are high and accidents are common. Qatar has a very high fatality rate for road accidents. If you have an accident, stay with your vehicle. It’s an offence to leave the scene of the accident, but if no one has been injured and it’s safe to do so, you can move your vehicle to a safer place. You’ll need to get a police report for insurance purposes.
The driver and front seat passenger should wear a seat belt at all times. You must not use a mobile phone while driving. Even minor expressions of ‘road rage’ like rude gestures can attract significant penalties. Offenders may be fined, imprisoned and/or deported. You may be banned from leaving the country until your case has been resolved. More serious cases may take up to 6 months to be heard. Flashing your lights in Qatar can mean a driver is coming through, rather than giving way.
Excursions to the desert can be hazardous unless in a properly equipped 4 x 4 vehicle. Always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone, and leave travel plans with friends or relatives.
It’s an offence in Qatar to drink and drive, and there is zero tolerance for it. Driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable by a custodial sentence of between one month and three years, a fine of QAR10,000 (approx £2,150) to QAR50,000 (approx £10,770), or both. Offenders may also be deported.
Check the MeTrash2 app before heading to the airport for any trip, as any outstanding traffic violations will be listed here. An outstanding violation may result in you being detained at immigration and denied onward travel. Fines for all violations should be settled in full before you travel.
Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive, including near maritime boundaries and the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the southern Gulf. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected, and there have been occasional arrests. You should make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports.
Regional tensions may also affect your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be at increased risk of maritime attack.
Take care when travelling by Dhow, as the safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available.
Regional developments continue to have an impact on local public opinion in the region. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. You should follow news reports and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations. There is the potential for increased tension on Fridays.