Qatar threatens to restrict expat drivers

Qatar is considering imposing restrictions on foreigners obtaining a driver’s licence as a solution to increasingly traffic congestion.

Authorities already have banned expats on temporary project visas from driving, in what is likely to be a headache for the growing number of construction companies seeking work in the rapidly expanding state.

A committee established to find solutions for the worsening traffic issues this week proposed limiting the number of expat workers who can apply for a driver’s licence, based on their profession.

It also suggested decentralising commercial activities from Doha, staggering working hours among government employees and building multi-storey parking lots.

The population of Qatar has almost doubled since 2006 to more than 1.8m people, due to an influx of expatriates taking advantage of the oil-rich state’s opportunities. About 85 percent of the residents are foreigners, it is estimated.

In 2010, Euromonitor estimated Qatar’s population would soar to 2.4m by 2030, an increase of 33 percent from 2010.

Immigration would account for about 74 percent of the net increase, the study said.

Since then Qatar has been awarded the 2022 soccer World Cup, which will require countless new hotels and at least five stadia, drawing in more foreign workers.

According to the Ministry of Interior the number of cars on Doha roads has reached about 876,000 per week day.

Fellow Gulf state Kuwait also imposes restrictions on foreigners seeking a driver’s licence. They must have a university degree and earn a minimum monthly salary of KD400 ($1,400).