As thousands of people leave Qatar for the holidays, those of us staying here over the next few weeks usually enjoy a much-needed road reprieve from months of traffic headaches.
Since we finally have a few moments to breath, this may also be a good time to reflect on whether the increasing congestion on Doha’s streets has affected our behavior.
In a recent Expat Telegraph post, Doha News editor-at-large Victoria Scott writes about how even short trips to her local post office have grown increasingly perilous:
“Quite simply, Doha now has far too many cars and not enough tarmac. Qatar’s growth is relentless and unprecedented, with 53,000 people arriving in the country in November alone. These extra bodies all need to get from A to B, and the city’s road network is under-populated with public transport, and over-populated with single occupancy cars.
The result is a daily drama of epic proportions; scene after scene of road rage, angst, disbelief, frustration, and, when possible, hysterical mirth.”
Scott noted that Qatar’s public works authority Ashghal has been pressing full-speed ahead on road overhauls to help with the congestion.
And as a longer-term strategy, Qatar Rail has been digging up parts of the country to install a much-needed public transportation system.
But for the next few years, authorities have pretty much said residents should resign themselves to living in a parking lot. And with this acceptance, Scott said comes another new reality:
“I’ve noticed that friends of mine have become increasingly reluctant to traverse the city, choosing instead to restrict their social lives and hobbies to their own particular neighbourhood…
I do wonder whether Doha’s traffic nightmare – increasingly labelled Carmageddon on social media – will result in us all retreating into our homes, rarely straying beyond a well-beaten triangular path between home, school and work. If we do end up living like that, it will be to the detriment of Qatar’s cultural diversity, social cohesion and growth.”
Do you find yourself not wanting to go out because of Qatar’s traffic? Thoughts?
I do find it extremely difficult at times, when there’s an urgency, but again, we have to face the cold reality and live on facts rather than fancy imaginations, right?
Yes, I do find myself wanting to stay in more but what bothers me more than the traffic itself is the aggressive and reckless behavior that seems to be increasing with the traffic. I recently came back from two traffic heavy cities (Beirut and Amman) and I didn’t see any of the road rage you see here.
Actually i don’t agree with you as I am from Jordan and Amman can’t be compared to Doha as Amman size is 1,680 km² while Doha size is 132.1 km². ِAlso the internal roads network in Amman is better than here. I think the problem here is the higher number of cars in comparison with the population as well as the lack of the alternative road.
I agree we don’t have many alternate routes here. My point was not comparing size or amount of traffic. My point is I have sat in traffic in other congested places around the world and I have witnessed more anger on the road here than anywhere else.
Yes Misha, i do agree with you, but since i came to Doha in 2013 i really hope people to think little positively about the traffic jam and try to cope with the current situation here. BTW, I witnessed a remarkable development in the Doha roads network since 2013. I hope that the situation will be better in the coming few years as the testing time of hosting the world cup is very close now. As for being angry in jams, i think it’s vary from person to another and also depends on where are you living old Doha, Dafna or Alsad. Anyway hope the situation to be better and wish you a season’s greetings ahead.
Traffic has discouraged me from leaving the house since 2008. Now I’m also fearful when I drive with my children in my car. I avoid the right lane of 22 Feb and Al Khor highway at all costs when with my children. Lane of death and highway to the grave!
hear, hear !
It’s not only the congestion, but also the aggressive, arrogant, and distracted driving that makes it multiple times worse. I’ve lived in “trafficky” cities elsewhere and don’t mind the congestion because usually (not always, of course) everyone minds their manners. You just build in the extra time when going places. I also have been to several other famously notorious traffic cities recently and don’t see the idiocy that exists in Qatar despite even more cramped and potentially dangerous roads.
So to the jerk (I can think of other more accurate words, but those might affect the publishability of this post) simultaneously handling four phones and bearing down on my back bumper with lights flashing and horn blasting and then swerving onto the hard shoulder to pass me and cut me off just so you can gain three whole meters in stop and go traffic: congratulations, you win, you can have that obviously important piece of pavement. I’m staying in with the family, a cold beverage, and a movie tonight. I won’t miss seeing you.
Have been hit on the back just yesterday, by a 21 years-old with a powerful car speeding on Doha Expressway, so I know the feeling and I completely agree with you.
That sucks, sorry to hear that sicti. Best wishes for getting it handled quickly and compensated fairly.
Thanks mate. Fortunately I was driving alone, no kids or wife.
Besides aggressive driving one has to suffer with the ever decreasing parking available – Qrail site in the middle of a congested Villagio parking!!!
Why can’t the police drive around in unmarked vehicles and just fine these aggressive drivers – like the pic below who not only cut in but had rash driving habits ( even had a free flow exhaust which I thought was banned). Tomorrow there is a high probability that he’d get into an accident – just hoping it is not with me or my family or another innocent driver
That metrash app for reporting violators – anyone tried it?
Someone used the app to report my uncle, who had his car impounded for a week with a 600 riyal fine. The punishment was for overtaking from the right. He was bewildered and insisted that he didn’t remember doing that on the road marked by the report — no dispute or camera evidence needed, they took the car away.
I can’t speak for his innocence but I can tell you the app works. It worries me, though, that some cases are in the hands of civilians instead of traffic police. Anyone whose ego has taken a knock can easily make a claim against another driver and get away with it.
Well said, was one of the main reasons I left, not willing to put my life or my child’s life at risk on Doha roads. And yes it stopped me doing a lot of things, once the school run was done. We never drove, not worth the risk. Stayed at home at night or private driver.
I confine my outings to the city center as I live there. The hassle of the traffic is a big put off especially after a day at work. It takes an hour if your lucky to get to Aspire zone then you have to find a parking space and then 45min to an hour to get home. So thank goodness for the Gatemall, the city Mall, the Marriott and the Corniche or it could be a bit boring. I agree with Chilidog about the aggressive and arrogant driving nature of many drivers it stresses me out and I could do without it after a days work. I lived in Paris for a while which also has some serious traffic issues but even there the drivers have a more relaxed attitude and would happily stop and let somebody out of a junction but not in Qatar its every man woman and child for themselves and sometimes with terrifying consequences, just look at the accident numbers. Hurry up with the Metro 🙂
I’m in Qatar since a year now and I am finding it really horrible to drive here to the level I sometimes fear driving in certain roads or crossing certain roundabouts. I don’t want to say “all” but most drivers think they own the road.
In my humble opinion drivers’ ignorant actions are driven by the same frustration express in the article. Roads are crappy, constructions every where, narrow streets, and on the other hand, cars are increasing more and more like it’s crazy and I could tell.
I’m also kind of person having problems memorising routes so I use navigation apps on my iPhone (mainly an app called Waze) and I find it so nice when I want to find an alternative route. However, alternative routes are most the time are very annoying, narrow, and full of holes.
Hope development to take care of this especially inside Doha.
Traffic has discouraged me from going to the city on weekends.
I do my socializing from cinema screenings to friends’ gatherings on weekdays, & if I choose to go out on a weekend it will be to al-khor, dukhan, or al-wakra.
My point is: there is traffic all the time. Just avoid the horrible traffic areas (like Ramada signal if you are coming from Salwa Road)!
Traffic anger is a serious issue though. I have never driven anywhere outside of Qatar, but I do know people go a little overboard when stuck in traffic.
Comment deleted, must be someone who own a Nissan tiida and didn’t like my comment about the people that drive them…..
No stop signs, no speed limits……. I’m on a highway to heeeeeeelllllll….
Too bad its not a walkable city. Its really not that far from villagio to City Center. If they had manicured Bike paths around the city that did not cross paths with all the richid drivers in Doha I would definitely use a bike when the weather is nice instead of driving.
YES IT DOES! I have to think twice before I do anything. I have to plan to do the groceries or any other simple thing. It has become a nightmare! Urban plans where are you????
Yes, I avoid going out because of traffic. First, I avoid going out because of the unpredictability of traffic (diversions, congestion, VIP traffic delays, accidents, 45 minutes to find a parking spot, etc.) It is almost impossible to be on time for any event without “padding” your drive time by at least 30 minutes. The second reason I avoid going out is because of the dangerous roads (speeding, drivers not using indicators, drivers changing lanes at the last minute, lane weaving, mobile phone use while driving, pedestrians crossing heavy traffic w/o a cross walk, drivers with different interpretation of laws/rules/civility, no law enforcement, offensive vs. defensive driving styles, unrestrained children, lanes abruptly ending without proper signage). The majority of the people I speak to about traffic also restrict their outings because of the hassle and headache of navigating Doha’s roads. The shame is that the avoidance impacts the local economy. There are lots of shops and businesses I would patronize if it wasn’t such a headache to get to them. For example, the road that has Thai Snack and Al Reif Bakery is a great shopping street. Lots of good places to eat and shop. But there is zero parking and it takes at least 30 minutes to crawl down the length of the street. I cannot imagine that navigating that street could get any worse, but I think the mall opening will cause even more congestion in that area and will serve as a reason to avoid that street completely. Instead, I feed the Amazon/Aramex beast. I would rather pay overseas shipping that spend 3 hours in round-trip traffic. And there is no way I will drive anywhere outside of Doha. The speeds I see in the congested city are enough to turn my blood cold. No way will I venture out on the highways to Al Khor or elsewhere. I accept these are my choices and I am okay with the compromise (though I feel consumer guilt about the impact on the environment by using Amazon/Aramex instead of shopping locally). On a positive note, I have noticed improvements in the overall flow of traffic at the Burger King and Al Markhiya roundabouts. Even though construction and diversions are here to stay, I look forward to further road improvements.
Amazon still not delivering to Qatar?
Doha is very peaceful and safe compared to Damascus or Baghdad. The traffic is peanuts and there are no snipers on the house roofs. I enjoy driving around. The few idiots who try to rule the road exist everywhere. Let them have their go and watch them being killed sooner or later in an accident. Just try to avoid getting too close to them. (I’ve been living here for 20 years, driving every day. I never had an accident).
Just curious…what’s your car ?
I doubt driving a sedan will give that safe feeling, even while being very defensive on road.
A Jeep Grand Cherokee V 8. But that’s not the point. The point is: what’s in your brain.
just for fun, try defensive driving with a sedan or small car, and then tell me if it’s only in my head !
I could agree with you, if the idiots only killed themselves. Sadly, they also take many innocent lives with them in the process. eg the Filipino family.
Never had another car hit you car? You’re one of a kind.
I see it coming, Rapha. I expect everybody to make mistakes. And, guess what? They do.
I also practice extreme defensive driving in Doha, but one time I was blind-sided on the right side by a small car inside a roundabout. I’m on the inner part taking a u-turn while the other car is taking a left turn. Normally, there’s no way the other car will hit me but this is Qatar.
I have to say I agree with him, I drive a luxury sedan and never had an accident. I expect every driver to make mistakes because most of them are idiots. I just imagine back in Kerala they drove a cow to work and now their sponsor gives them a 5ltr SUV, with more power than they know what to do with.
True. Let’s stop being politically correct for once.
Two years in Doha now after long time living in HCMC (well used to crazy traffic). I’ve never seen something like this in my life. I must say however that crazy reckless drivers, absence of respect and consideration to others, issuing of driving licences (it’s a free bar here), excess of smart assess… Are not the greatest problem. Have you ever walked around Doha at night? I run every night around midnight. C ring, D ring and from yesterday F ring and nearby areas…The smell on the roads… That mixture of fried food and septic tank. I am not surprised people drive their cars to go for cigarettes…
Yes it does discourage from going to many places, such as the Pearl and Katara. But what really upsets me more is the behaviour of drivers who do not care to use the indicators and do not respect the priority at roundabouts. I get even more frustrated with those who block the yellow square in intersections, and those who cut you off too close and without any warning, thus forcing you break hard to avoid collision.
So yes, all that is pushing me to do most of my shopping in the nearby supermarket and avoid the city centre and all of West Bay.
Can’t agree more.
Absolutely! I prefer doing all my shopping at the Dar Al Salam Mall as I live next door and having some friends over for movie nights. If I choose to go out i’ll do it in the weekdays! The problem with Doha is that there are no self sustainable neighborhoods! For a lot of folk having to take their car to the mall to buy groceries or the like is a must because there would be no shops within kilometers of their homes!
To answer the question…. No. I drive everywhere. I have been driving for 35 years. – the last two in Doha. I agree with all the observations of my fellow posters, but there are ways to drive defensively without being bullied into a parking lot and getting no where.
Firstly, after while you will develop a sixth sense… A glance in the mirrors or at the drivers along side you- even two lanes over, and you will know their intentions, and can allow for them. A drivers body language extends to the vehicle – you can sense they are going to cut you up or do something stupid long before it happens and make allowances.
Secondly- lane discipline. We drive on the right. Stay right unless you are overtaking, or turning left, or u-turning – illegal in almost every country in the world except here. Never ever pass on tHe right, unless the traffic to your left is stationary. Do not distract yourself with the phone or tv or whatever. Watch, listen, learn, and stay safe. Take pride in your lane discipline. Stay between the lines and select the lane you need early. If some jerk leaves it till the last minute and comes spearing toward your near side wing to beat you to the filter – let him, but don’t make it easy for them. Give him as little room as possible. This discourages others from muscling in behind him. Use your signals. always. And concentrate. Drive AT the speed limit… Not less, not more. The more you drive, the more you will learn that, yes, we get the LC drivers, that will just bulldoze through. we all know it, so watch the mirrors and get out of the way. The real issues though are drivers from the sub-continent. Drive in Mumbai, Chennai, , Islamabad, Delhi or Columbo. Doha is like a stroll in the park by comparison. The trick is take responsibility for your own behaviour, and if we all do that- yes ALL… you LC pilots and Bangladeshi cab drivers too- the roads will be safer.
As for the roads, well, they are getting better Al the time, and I take my hat off to Ashgal… Those of you that travel between west bay and the Pearl will notice that they have even taken time out of their main project to widen roads, and add new filter lanes and exits to ease the congestion, and closed some roundabout exits, relieving many of the bottlenecks. It’s much better now.
Of course there are too many cars. Aggressive drivers are not necessarily the next worst thing either,I find those who drive white pickups and Tidas all too willing to pull out in front,not use signals etc. unfortunately the ones here who say they will stay home most probably will not change things much on the roads as the ones who need to stay off the roads,wouldn’t. Sadly the measures that could be taken to alleviate the problem probably will not happen,and metro/new road changes can’t help fast enough. Wonder what would happen if they put peak time tariffs for road use in place? Probably more congestion as it would only squeeze people to side streets to avoid it.
When you talk about the triangle i.e. work, school and home, I have a point to make here. Would it not be great if kids were to be sent to school on school buses instead of having an additional car on road? This simple measure could save all the traffic congestion that we typically associate when the schools are in session.
I have seen far fewer schools buses on roads here than I see them in Dubai – just wonder why? Same is the case with public transport buses. I used to love riding a public transport bus in Dubai (although was having a car and driving license) just because they were convenient and not (psuedo) labelled for workers as is the case in Doha.
It is may be the cars on the roads, but it is also the management of alternative means of transport that cause traffic congestion. I am sure Rail would help, but looking at the our preference for driving around instead of using public transport in Qatar, I am sad to believe that it would be the silver bullet to the traffic problem.
I haven’t seen daylight in 6 months. I’m confined to my man cave and dare not venture into the carpocalyse outside.
I always go out during Friday afternoon. Its a breeze to go from one point to another. Going to Villagio, Ezdan, City Centre and even Lagoona Mall is nice. I just wish that Malls open much earlier during Friday.
I moved here 2 years ago from California, where I owned a car for 40 years and have a lot of experience in navigating bad traffic. I got my Qatari drivers license and had every intention of buying a car. But after a while, I thought, why should I have the aggravation of dealing with Doha’s terrible traffic and out-for-themselves Third World drivers? So I’m sticking to using my regular driver to commute to work, living in West Bay where I can walk to a lot of shopping and social opportunities, and using Uber for occasional unscheduled trips. Doha is getting quite a bad reputation among expats, and it will make it harder and harder to recruit them.
Having spent between 3-4 hours driving to work and back every day on a white knuckle ride hoping to survive the day, I really don’t want to drive anywhere in the evenings and at weekends. Before coming to Qatar I used to go to my gym every evening- now it is impossible to get anywhere in time for a class, there is no way of knowing how long the journey will take. Then when you do arrive at your destination, it is nearly impossible to park. Even at Aspire, where there is a dedicated carpark for gym users, the spaces are taken up with men in 4×4, engines idling, waiting for Madam.