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Monday, June 21, 2021

Proposal to restrict driver’s licenses for Qatar expats meets with resistance

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In an effort to alleviate some of Qatar’s traffic woes, a joint government committee this week proposed the controversial idea of restricting driver’s licenses granted to expats based on their profession.

The move has precedent in nearby Kuwait, where only expats with a university degree who earn a minimum monthly salary of $1,400 are allowed to obtain driver’s licenses, according to Arabian Business.

But for the past few years, Qatar has relaxed requirements on expats who want to obtain driver’s licenses, removing a previous requirement to get a sponsor’s permission.

And according to officials interviewed by the Peninsula, a new restrictive policy would not be very effective here.

“Curbing the issuance of driver’s licences will provide very little or no solution to traffic-related problems. One should go to the root cause of the problems instead of finding temporary solutions,” said Omar Kaballo, manager of Al Khebra Driving School…

“If the government wants to restrict low-income or unskilled workers from getting a licence, it will not have much impact because they constitute only about five percent of the total number of applicants,” Kaballo said. 

Staggering work hours for government employees, shifting commercial activities to outside of Doha and building multi-level parking lots throughout the city are among the other recommendations that have been forwarded to the Cabinet by the task force, which includes officials from the Ministry of Interior, Advisory Council, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning and Ashghal.

Prioritizing these ideas, as well as focusing on developing roads and building an affordable public transport system would help address Qatar’s traffic snarls more effectively, the newspaper reported.

Not enough road

There are now 879,039 cars on Qatar’s roads, more than 200,000 vehicles than in 2010, according to MOI figures. With the population growing in leaps and bounds, those numbers don’t appear to be going down anytime soon. The number of accidents resulting in injuries has also jumped, some 12 percent last year, to over 4,000 incidents.

To address specific and consistent traffic jams, the government committee has also identified some 138 vulnerable spots across Doha, including Ramada junction and the Corniche, where work is already underway to turn most of its roundabouts into intersections. 

What do you think are the fastest and easiest ways to improve commuting time and the driving experience in Qatar? Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Naeem Rashid

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