After my brief visit to Doha in November I was almost certain I was not going to drive here. The roads are a scary place, full of large, white 4WDs, fluid lanes on the roundabout, constant honking, and a stop-anywhere attitude.

You have to get a car here, there aren’t really any other options. So, I tried getting a driver who kindly charged me the equivalent of £10 each way to and from work (and I thought the tube was expensive!). To cut costs I’ve tried getting a licensed Karwa taxi. The problem is, there aren’t that many of them, and the drivers are all new arrivals who have absolutely no idea where you want to go. But at least I’m cutting costs, despite the 30 minute wait this morning.

Walking is a completely different experience here. It’s not the done thing. Footpaths disappear suddenly so you end up walking through dust or on the road. But it’s the cars, the men, the random men…

The flash their lights. They toot. They creepily slow and cruise along beside you. You shake your head. They look at you strangely. You look confused and turn away. Anywhere else it would look like they were trying to pick up working girls, and that’s a little how we’re left feeling (are we wearing something inappropriate?), a little harassed. But they are just unlicensed taxis, trying to pick up business – it’s illegal for them to do so, and it’s illegal for you to use them.

It looks like getting a car and driving myself is the best option. In preparation I’ve been looking up some ‘road rules’:

Rules of the Road by Rochester (from Qatar Living)

[Remember, your lives are in the hands of God: Have No Fear!]
Ten Top Tips for driving in the Gulf

1. Keep to your lane!

Landcruisers, BMWs and Mercedes may use the fast lane.

All other cars should keep to the right.

2. On entering a round-about, remember God preserves the Pure in Heart.
Just drive straight in and He will protect you.

3. The right lane of a round-about is reserved for taxis to drop off passengers.

4. Double parking on round-abouts is only permitted if vendors are selling National Flags or watermelons.

5. Take the right hand lane if you are turning left, and vice versa.

6. If ‘other’ types of car use the fast lane, flash your headlights and they will get out of the way. Failing this, a gentle nudge to the bumper will do the trick.

7. Red traffic lights mean Stop! Green means Go!
* [Landcruisers and pickups are exempt from this rule.]

8. Always stay back at least ten inches from the car in front of you.
* [Landcruisers and pickups are exempt from this rule.]

9. Children sitting on the driver’s lap need not use a safety belt.

10. Use your horn frequently to signal “Have a Nice Day, Brothers!”

I will always wear my seatbelt. (“Make it click!”)

Wish me luck…!

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