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?