Amid rising complaints that cab drivers in Qatar are taking customers for a ride, some passengers say they feel especially targeted for being female.
According to the Peninsula, cab drivers are increasingly intimidating female passengers into paying higher fares, especially at night:
At least two of them said the drivers stopped the taxis midway, keeping the doors locked and demanded that a certain fare be handed over to them immediately.
“It was so terrifying an experience. I instantly handed over the money,” said an African woman, preferring not to be named.
Another passenger said:
“They stop midway and refuse to move, asking for more money. They don’t unlock the car doors until you pay. The aim is to force the passenger to pay more. They behave in a threatening way and take advantage of a woman traveling alone,” she added.
Women are not the only ones complaining about poor service from taxi drivers here. The most common gripes among those who use the state-run Mowasalat cabs is that some drivers turn their meters off and charge high fares, or that they are unable find their way around the city.
But females are a distinct minority in Qatar, accounting for only a quarter of the nearly 2 million people who live here. The imbalance is one reason why Qatar should hire female taxi drivers, the Central Municipal Council said last year.
The idea is one that companies in Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE have taken up, catering to a growing demand among women in GCC countries for secure transport. That makes Qatar one of the last countries in the GCC to not have female cab drivers, as no women in Saudi Arabia are permitted to drive.
Mowasalat has urged residents to file complaints against drivers who try to swindle them, but also has admitted that first-time offenders usually get off with warnings or fines.
Have you had any particularly harrowing experiences while in a taxi in Qatar?
Credit: Photo by Omar Chatriwala