This is the most detailed article (I’m not afraid to say that) on the internet about car rental in Qatar, specifically in Doha, for tourists. I will tell you all the nuances, pitfalls, and personal experience of how to rent a car in Doha and visit all the country’s attractions. You will learn about the roads, police, speed cameras, traffic rules, whether you can use your regular driver’s license (yes, you can), and much more. There will be a lot of critically important information.
It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Qatar without these websites
Table of Contents
Pros and cons of car rental in Qatar: why rent a car at all?
Since Qatar was a closed country until recently, there are many dark spots and gaps for tourists, especially when it comes to renting a car in Qatar. I will try to answer all the questions, as this topic has always been difficult, with many peculiarities.
Important note:If I had to summarize it briefly, renting a car in Qatar is an incredibly simple, affordable, and enjoyable process. And driving on the local roads is just a pleasure.
Advantages of renting a car in Qatar:
- Low prices, which are actually lower than in most European countries, despite the fact that Qatar is not the cheapest country.
- Perfect roads, if you drive on them, not through the desert, but more on that below.
- Traffic rules and driving are the same as ours: right-hand traffic.
- Very pleasant police, but you are unlikely to encounter them. And the locals behave quite adequately on the roads.
- Low traffic. If there are traffic jams in Doha during rush hour, outside the city, all roads are empty.
- Very short distances and very cheap gasoline. The country is only 100 by 200 km.
- There are a huge number of attractions outside Doha that are simply a must-see. There is no public transport or group tours to get there. You can only get there by renting a car.
- Here are the top 12 coolest locations outside Doha in Qatar where you need a car. There is also an optimal route for those who rent a car.
- Standard requirements of all rental companies and good condition of cars.
- There are no “scammers”, frauds, thefts – the country is absolutely safe for tourists. Believe me, Qatar is much safer than London or Paris. And especially on the roads.
- There are many advantages to renting a car in Qatar, I can list them for a long time.
Good to know:If you don’t plan to visit landmarks outside of Doha, you don’t need a car. It’s easy and cheap to get around Doha by metro. A car is only needed for trips around Qatar, as there is almost no alternative.
Car rental in Qatar, cons:
- There are certain peculiarities of using our driving licenses, but more on that below.
- There are a lot of speed cameras and fairly high fines. You need to drive by the rules.
- Certain problems with parking in Doha, there is often not enough space.
- The security deposit is blocked for 14-20 days after rental finish, but this is due to local peculiarities. More on that below.
Roads, traffic rules, parking, fines, police in Qatar: attitude towards tourists
Briefly and simply, as everything is straightforward and clear:
- The roads are wide, the asphalt is excellent. The main highways across the country are 6 lanes in each direction. Something similar to traffic jams can only be found in Doha.
- All roads in Qatar are completely toll-free!
- The traffic rules in Qatar are similar to ours and are easy to understand. Just look at the signs, there are no differences. Some general rules include:
- Talking on the phone while driving is prohibited.
- All passengers, including those in the back seat, must wear seat belts.
- The speed limit in the city is 50 km/h if there are no signs indicating otherwise.
- The speed limit outside the city is 80 km/h.
- On 6-7 lane highways, the speed limit is 120 km/h.
- All parking areas outside of Doha are free of charge. In Doha, parking is also usually free, but it can be crowded in the evenings. There are also paid parking lots available, and your hotel may have its own parking for guests, which is even better. However, not all hotels have this amenity. When booking a hotel, pay attention to this.
- Hotels and apartments for tourists in Qatar: what to expect and where to look.
Regarding speed cameras and the police:There are no police officers on the roads in Qatar, but there are smart speed cameras that detect a lot of violations, including not wearing a seat belt or talking on the phone while driving. To be honest, there are cameras every 5 km along the highway. Therefore, the police do not stop anyone just to check their documents. They only come in the event of an accident.
Some peculiarities of driving in Qatar include:
- There are no signs indicating the presence of speed cameras in Qatar.
- There are thousands of cameras, so you just need to follow the rules and not worry about them.
- Exceeding the speed limit by just 1 km/h is considered a violation and can result in a fine.
- The fines for speeding are not high, around $20 for exceeding the speed limit by up to 20 km/h. However, car rental companies charge an additional 100 QAR (~$30) for processing the fine. They will deduct this amount from your deposit. So, each speeding violation will cost you about $50. Do you really want that?
- In case of an accident, the unified number for all emergency services is 999. It doesn’t matter if you need an ambulance, fire department, or police, it’s the same number for all cases across the country.
The police in Qatar are very respectful, and interacting with them only brings pleasant memories. No one here extorts money from you, and you should not even think about offering anything if something happens. Bribery and theft are severely punished, with the penalty of having a hand cut off for both the giver and the taker (although I’m joking about the hand-cutting part). But the laws here are very strict, and the police in Qatar operate strictly within the letter of the law.
As for the driving style of the locals,there’s one thing: they love to drive their jeeps on the sand dunes, and their driving can be a bit erratic. But no one will tailgate you, honk, flash their lights, or cut you off here. Most importantly, there are almost no road rage or inadequate drivers. They’ll simply pass you and move on. And when they see a foreigner, they are especially welcoming.
Car rental requirements in Qatar
The requirements for car rental companies in Qatar are standard, like in other parts of the world, making car rental accessible to tourists. Even though Qatar was until recently a closed country and is a Muslim state where Sharia rules apply, albeit in a mild form.
The requirements for necessary documents are the same across all rental companies:
- Driver’s license. Minimum one-year driving experience on the day of rental.
- Driver’s age must be 23 or above. There are a couple of companies that will rent to those aged 21, but if you are under 21, you are out of luck when it comes to car rental in Qatar.
Interesting fact:Women can drive here on an equal footing with men. So, even if the driver is a woman, a car will be rented to her.
- A bank card in the name of the driver with the required deposit amount is required. The deposit can only be paid by bank card! In Qatar, no one will take cash for it. Cash can be used to pay for the rental and insurance (coverage) itself.
- A passport with a visa is mandatory. They will check how many days you have been here, as you will learn later. Check out this article for information on what a visa to Qatar looks like (spoiler alert: it’s just average).
Very important:Qatari officials are known for their bureaucratic approach, where they create a separate folder for each customer and scan all documents, including licenses, passports (almost all pages), and most importantly, your credit card, which is used to pay the deposit on both sides! If you refuse, you will have to walk to all the sights, as no one will give you a car. This is not done to steal your money, but I will tell you about it below in the article. Arguments that this is your personal information and even the bank prohibits its disclosure, do not work here.
Full insurance coverage: is it necessary?
Car rental in Qatar includes a choice of two types of insurance: standard or basic insurance coverage, and full coverage, also known as super insurance, comprehensive coverage.
Here’s what you need to know about it:
- Basic insurance is always included in the car rental price, and you don’t need to pay extra for it. It will only work in the following cases:
- Car theft (impossible in Qatar)
- Accidents, but only if you are not at fault
- Natural disasters: fire, tsunami, earthquake
- For example, if someone dents your car door in a parking lot, or you do it yourself, you pay out of pocket. If you get into a minor accident and you are at fault, you also have to pay. If you puncture a tire or a stone breaks the windshield, you know who pays. And they have your card number and deposit too 🙂
- Full insurance, or full coverage, has many names, but you’ll know it when you see it. It is always offered as an additional option. It depends on the car class, rental company, but usually costs around $10 a day for an economy class car. These $10 guarantee you a full deposit refund, you just need to return the car on time.
- Full insurance covers all damages in any accident, even if you are at fault.
- It also covers tire punctures, broken windows, lost keys, and so on.
- This insurance usually has a deductible of $3000 or euros. The full insurance covers all damages up to this amount.
Important note:You won’t even feel the cost of this insurance in your travel budget. You should always buy it, and in Qatar, it’s very cheap. Although accidents are rare, traffic is excellent, but you will drive into the desert where puncturing a tire is not difficult, and very little can happen. Prices for repairs in Qatar are very high.
All about security deposit
There is always a security deposit when renting a car in any country in the world, and Qatar is no exception.
My opinion:I often hear notes of indignation from tourists related to the deposit. Look at the situation from the other side: you, an absolutely unknown person, are given expensive property to use. No one knows how you will use the car. In case of something happening, if you cannot be found, if you leave Qatar after three days, as a non-citizen, no one will be able to find you. Companies need guarantees. And who will pay for the speeding fines if you are no longer in the country?
Car rental in Qatar: what you need to know about the deposit:
- Depends on the class of car
- For the economy class, ordinary sedans, the deposit amount is standard everywhere: about 1500 QAR (~$450)
- The deposit is debited only from a physical card. They do not accept Apple Pay and other virtual cards.
- You can pay the deposit with the passenger’s card, for example, we usually pay with my wife’s card, and I am the driver. But the card owner must be present at the time of receiving the car and sign additional documents regarding financial responsibility. Of course, it is better if the main driver has the card.
- After returning the car, the deposit will be refunded no earlier than 2 weeks, or even all 3. This is due to the system of processing fines from speed cameras. Since all fines are processed within 14 days by law. Add a couple more days for your bank to process the refund.
- If you bought full coverage, you will receive the entire deposit back without any deductions. Deductions can only be made for traffic violations, but the company formalizes each such case and sends you proof by mail, where and when you were driving and at what speed. Deception to not return your deposit in Qatar is excluded. We have never encountered this.
Why you need to hide the CVV code:The rental company will have the card number in any case and the financial responsibility signed by you. If you sink the car in the sea, they will write off the necessary amount without the CVV. Fraud by companies is also excluded.
But people work there, often migrants from India and Pakistan, who have access to these paper copies of your card. And not everyone may have good intentions. Who knows, after six months, someone from the staff goes back to Pakistan, and takes these paper with them.
The same thing happened to us in the Dominican Republic. There, too, when renting a car, they scan both sides of the card. Six months after the trip, 500 euros were stolen from this card, and the payment was made from neighboring Haiti. Therefore, hide the CVV code with a piece of tape, as shown in the photo above. It may be an excessive precaution, but it certainly rather good too.
What kind of driver’s license do you need to rent a car in Doha?
This is an important point because unreliable information is written everywhere on the internet, which scares tourists away from renting a car in Qatar. Here’s what’s really going on, based on personal experience:
- With your national driver’s license (photo above), you can rent a car in Doha for up to 7 days from the date of entry. Important points:
- The car must be returned on the 7th day from the date of entry into the country. The day of arrival, even if it’s at 11 PM, also counts as a full day.
- All fields on your national driver’s license must be duplicated in English.
- If you need to rent a car in Qatar when more than 7 days have passed since your entry into the country, or for a period of more than a week (but up to 28 days), then you will only be given a car if you have an international driver’s license. This is an additional paper booklet to your national license. International driver’s licenses can be obtained today at the police station in your city.
- Important: Driver’s licenses in the form of a plastic card, as shown in the photo above, are not international. These are national licenses, and you can only drive in Qatar for 7 days from the date of entry into the country.
- And if you need a car in Qatar for more than 28 days, you have to obtain a local Qatari permit. But I won’t go into that here, as this article is for tourists, not expats. 90% of tourists today fly through Qatar in transit for a period of 1 to 5 days, and they can all rent a car with their national driver’s licenses.
Where to rent a car in Doha: a list of rental companies
Today, car rental in Qatar, like everywhere in the world, has moved online. Finding rental company offices or seeing ads on the streets, as in Southeast Asia, is no longer possible. 99% of bookings are made online in advance of the trip. You can search anywhere, enter a query in Google: cheap car rental in Qatar, and you’ll get dozens of resources.
- The most important thing to consider when searching is the mileage allowed by the rental company. It should be unlimited. However, there are companies that offer cars with a limit of 100 km per day, and anything above that will require an additional fee.
- For your information, to see all the top attractions in Qatar in two days, you will need to drive about 500-600 km.
Below are two reliable services that have the largest database of rental companies in Qatar. They include unlimited mileage in their price, and almost every other driver is free. Both resources have been personally tested more than once.
- DiscoverCars – Perhaps the most pleasant service, and here are my favorites, Strong, who I rented cars from in Doha about 20 times. This is not an advertisement, but a personal recommendation for those guys who I use myself and have never had any issues with them.
- EconomyBookings – Their main competitor. They also work with all the top rental companies in Qatar, including Strong. I don’t really like the interface and convenience of their website, but sometimes their prices are cheaper.
Search on both websites and book where the price is cheaper or you like it more.
Car rental prices in Qatar:The standard price for an economy class car in Doha is about $30 per day. Plus, add full coverage. The total is $40 per day. In two days, you can travel around the whole country and see all the best attractions. So the total expenses, including gasoline, will be $100. Can you name a country that is cheaper?
Car rental in Qatar: which car to choose, sedan or SUV?
Here’s the thing – all the best and coolest attractions are in the desert. Technically, you can get to them in any sedan.
The biggest difficulties will be on the East-West/West-East installation, where we punctured a tire and damaged the sills. (Here there should be an advertisement for full coverage, which we had). There is also the abandoned Film City village, which is another 5 km away from this installation in the desert. And you can’t get there in a sedan.
A few other attractions also have roads that are not suitable for sedans, but if it becomes too difficult to drive, you can park the car and walk. It’s no more than 1 km from the road. You can reach all the other cool locations, such as Fort Al Zubara and Sealine Beach, without any problems on any car.
It’s important to understand that4WD is not necessary in Qatar, as you won’t be driving on rental cars through sand dunes, which require specially equipped SUVs. However, high ground clearance is needed. Whenever the asphalt ends and you need to drive through the desert, there are big rocks and potholes. But you can do it even on a regular car, as I have done it several times. Therefore, the decision is up to you.
Gas stations and gasoline in Qatar
It’s simple here:
- There are two types of gasoline in Qatar: Gold (95) and Silver (91).
- All rental cars, unless it’s a luxurious Ferrari, are fueled with the cheaper type (Silver). You will be informed about it upon pickup.
- The fuel quality in the country is excellent, as no one mixes or dilutes it. You can refuel at any gas station in Qatar.
- One liter of gasoline costs 2 QAR (about 0.55$) everywhere.
- There are many gas stations, but only near Doha. If you plan to drive to remote areas, do not drive on an empty tank. Refuel in advance.
- You need to return the car with the same amount of fuel you received it with. They do not always give it with a full tank.
- Credit cards are often not accepted at gas stations, so it’s better to always have cash in Qatari rials. No other currency is accepted here.
- You don’t need to get out of the car as there is an attendant next to each pump who will do everything for you. You pay him, and he may even clean your windshield for a few extra rials.
And finally, a few general tips about car rental in Qatar that will help you avoid unpleasant situations.
- Check for a spare tire when receiving the car. They tend to puncture quite often in the desert. And make sure there is a wrench and a jack.
- Always have a local SIM card. The internet works everywhere, even in the desert. You never know what might happen. If you break down or can’t remove a tire, you’ll need to be able to contact someone. There are almost no people or cars in the remote areas of Qatar.
- Don’t skimp on full insurance. It’s better to have it and not need it than to pay $500 for a minor scratch.
- Always have water with you when traveling around the country. There are no stores or kiosks on the roads. 90% of Qatar is a real desert. In the summer, the temperature in the shade is +45 degrees Celsius.
- And if you missed something, for example, couldn’t get there but really want to, you can always find a tour to the place on a prepared jeep with a driver.
- Learn more about Qatar tours, the best of them, where to look for them, in the article at the link.
In conclusion, renting a car in Qatar is a very simple, pleasant, and affordable process that increases your mobility while traveling. Out of the top 12 attractions in the country outside of Doha, you won’t be able to see any of them using public transport. You won’t be able to reach any of them without a personal car, taxi, and so on. To see all these locations at a comfortable pace, 2-3 days are enough.
Renting a car in Qatar solves most of the problems for those tourists who want to explore beyond Doha.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Qatar
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental: Discovery Cars (cheaper – only by bus)
- Hotels and apartments in Doha: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Montenegro