Collecting our first ever 4x4 - August 2011
One of my greatest fears on arriving in Qatar back in 2011 was having to get behind the wheel and drive around. I had practically no experience of driving on the right hand side of the road, most of the cars looked like huge tanks and, to be perfectly honest, the manner in which a lot of people seem to drive here is, to put it politely, not quite so courteous as we were used to back in the UK!

Simon knew my fears which is why, within just one day of arriving in Doha, he took me to some of the car dealers and made me test drive a variety of vehicles. I was not at all happy to be plunged into the deep end but retrospectively it really was the only way to go.

A few days later we were in possession of our very own brand new 4x4, a Honda Pilot, which seemed big but not scarily so - unlike the Nissan Armada, which having just got off a flight from the UK, was just too big a jump up at that time (my perception may have changed a little now however!). 

It was while we were at the car dealership waiting to be given the keys to our new car that we had our first memorable Doha moment - Matthew told us that he had just seen a ninja walking past! What he had actually just witnessed was his first sighting of a lady dressed in an abaya!

So, a few things you need to know/remember when driving in Doha:

1.Don't be surprised to see children clambering around without seatbelts on as they are being driven around. Sadly, the majority of  families (excluding Westerners) do not make their children wear seatbelts and are happy to let them hang their heads out of the windows and let their babies and toddlers sit on the laps of other passengers as they drive along. It is no wonder that the child mortality rate in road traffic accidents is so high here and I will never get used to the way these poor young children's safety is so readily ignored.

2. If a Landcruiser comes speeding up behind you flashing his lights then make sure you move over quickly as he's certainly not going to slow down and will more than likely try to bump you off the road!

3. When crossing a roundabout the easiest thing to do is close your eyes and put your foot down full on the accelerator as drivers often ignore road etiquette and fail to give way when they should. They also frequently drive straight through red traffic lights!

4. It's a fact that if you want to turn left, get in the far right lane and then swerve across 3 lanes of traffic at the last minute to make your turn. There is no need to indicate as everyone will of course already know your intentions!

5. If there are 3 lanes leading up to a roundabout then don't be surprised to find 5 cars across them, all trying to get on the roundabout at the same time.

6. Size does matter - you need a big car as otherwise no-one will see you and you will get squashed fairly rapidly.

7. If the queue heading towards a roundabout seems busier than usual, then that is likely to be because the traffic police are on the roundabout 'improving' traffic flow!

8. Why drive on the road when you can whizz across a dirt track in your 4x4 to cut a corner?

9. If you want to know what it feels like to be truly petrified, just head towards the Industrial Area where you will find dirt tracks instead of roads and cars flying towards you from all directions!

10. One positive to finish off - Fuel is EXTREMELY cheap here - less than £10 to fill the car up from empty, as compared to £80 to fill up our Ford S-max back in the UK!! Yes, you heard me right, fuel is extremely CHEAP so you can afford to run your air con full blast all day and leave the engine running when you pick up the kids from school. Ok, so it may not be environmentally sound to do that but it is CHEAP!!



    Sam is married to Simon and has 4 children who take up a lot of her time. She is currently living outside the UK for the very first time, having  relocated to Qatar in the Middle East in August 2011


    March 2013