When I posted the photo of my driving license back in November in my Insta-story, loads of people here in Qatar replied with the happiest congratulations and a bunch of wow reactions. My friends outside Qatar, on the other hand, replied with simple good-for-you greetings. That made me realize that being able to have a driving license here in Qatar feels way more like an achievement rather than a plain perk. Why is that?
Because getting a driving license in Qatar is difficult.
That statement above gives exception to Qatar citizens who already have a GCC driving license or a license from selected countries. For those who can’t convert their license, or doesn’t have any – taking a driving test to qualify for a driving license is mandatory. If you feel like you already know how to drive and you think that it qualifies a Qatar Police’s standards kind of driving, you can apply for a direct test. Note that your application has to be approved by The Traffic Police Department. Otherwise, you have to apply either for a full course or half course driving lesson. Which I suggest for you to do, whether you’re already Fast & Furious confident with your driving or you have zero knowledge of anything that has to do with wheels. So let’s begin?
Pick a School.
If you’re on employment visa, you need to check first if your profession written on your visa is allowed to acquire a driving license. Here’s a list of professions that are not allowed. If you’re under family/student visa, you have nothing to worry about. Then move on to picking your school. You have to consider your school of choice’s established quality and standards before you enroll. Another thing is how practical the distance of the school is from your house (or to your work). Considering this will help you save time and money as you’re going to go to school every day during your lessons. If you’re wondering what school I went to, it’s Al Khebra Driving Academy.
Check your school’s official requirements. It is important to complete all of them. I paid and registered online then I was asked to submit the hard copies to the school itself. Upon enrollment, they will ask you about your preferred class schedule. You can ask for a schedule early morning before your work or in the evenings after. They will grant your requested schedule based on the availability of instructors in your school. If your day is flexible like mine, you’ll be given a schedule right away and you don’t have to wait for weeks. I was given a class 3 days away from my enrollment day. That’s pretty great considering some waited for weeks! I enrolled in a regular full course with a male instructor in automatic. Here are the prices in Al Khebra.
When I enrolled, I was told that I have to complete 10 days (45 mins each day) of classes before taking the Theory Test. But after 5 classes, our instructor told us that we’re going to take our exam after our 8th day. Not sure if they do it to save time especially if they see that the students can already pass. The theory class is a proper classroom setting kind of lessons. We were six in the class if I’m not mistaken. I enjoyed it actually, meeting new people and seeing them every day for a week. Our instructor was really nice and he’s a fun teacher! I also availed their Simulation Training lessons. This isn’t mandatory to take but our instructor suggested it and it wasn’t that expensive so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did because it was great introduction and experience with driving in Qatar. Here’s a link to what it looks like. The Doha city 3D simulation was developed by Qatar University graduates/students.
An early Monday morning, I took the theory test. It consists of 20 questions and in order to pass, you must answer at least 18 correctly. The questions that appeared are easy if you memorized the stuff that your instructor taught you. It also consists of few situational questions which can be confusing because of the literal Arabic to English translation they use. I was so happy when I saw the green check sign on the screen indicating that I passed! The police officers inside the cabin were very nice too. Note that if you fail this part of the test, they will not proceed to the next stage.
Right after you pass your Theory Test, make sure to book a schedule for your practical lessons. This runs for 40 days (1 hour each day). They will book 36 days first and leave the 4 days reserved as refresher classes if ever you failed your first Road Test attempt (not sure if this applies to all schools). You can also choose your preferred nationality of the instructor (Filipino, Indian, Nigerian, Arabic-speaking etc.).
This is the part where you hit the road with your instructor. My instructor from Al Khebra was great and you can really feel that you’re in good hands but he was really strict with my driving which is good I guess haha.
This runs for 10 days (30 mins each day). You have to take this simultaneously with your practical training. You get a different instructor with your parking training too. It’s cool how they will teach you loads of tips and unique tricks to ace your L&P parking test. Although, you will practice on designated parking areas that are for lessons only. You won’t get to practice in the actual parking test spot.
The two parking tests you have to pass is the L parking and the Parallel parking. I find the Parallel parking easier than L, which is contrary to most. The test schedule that was given to me was on a Sunday afternoon, a week after my last parking class, and it was still hot outside. I remember sweating as I waited for my turn. The aim of the test is obviously parking the car properly without touching the markings and poles with very sensitive sensors. Thank God I passed this on the first attempt. My number one tip for this is to try not to get nervous. While waiting for your turn, you can easily get tensed and anxious when you hear the beeps that signal when a student fails the test. Try your best to calm yourself and carefully look and analyze how the people are doing it with the actual parking.
Welcome to the most stressful part. Hahaha! You’re given 2 attempts for your road test. If you fail both, you have to enroll all over again (either half/full) or apply for a direct test that must be approved by the Traffic Police Department. According to instructors, previous students and anyone who took the exam – the road test usually goes for only 3-4 minutes. Sometimes less, sometimes a bit more. So let me tell you how mine went, haha! From an early Monday morning, I took my first road test. I arrived at the school around 5:30 am and waited hours. By 10:00 am, they finally called my name and instructed me to go to my assigned car. During road tests, there are supposed to be 3 students in the car and the police officer. But because I’m already part of the last batch of the day, we were just 2. I got into the driver’s seat thinking being the first one must be better. I drove.
Everything seemed to be okay until the police officer (which I later found out he was actually a captain.. haha) said to me.. “yallah! yallah go, go..” and I lowkey got confused because 1. we were in the residential area and 2. my speed is already 50. I then saw an upcoming speed hump approaching, I reduced my speed for it and he kept on saying (in Arabic) to go faster and don’t slow down. By this bit, I was very confused as I recall in my head what my instructor clearly said: “never go beyond 50 in residential areas and make the police officer feel that you’re slowing down on speed humps.” Also by this time, I somehow knew and accepted that I’m about to fail. My road test took around 15 minutes and whenever I tell students on the same batch, they’re shocked at how long my test took while they only had theirs for less than 5 minutes. As soon as we’re back to the school, we went back to the cabin to wait for the results. A guy in a suit came inside and started announcing names along with saying if you failed or passed. “Sharice Tan.. failed” Hahaha. I failed my first attempt but because I already expected it after my test, I didn’t get too upset about it. However, I got really stressed and worried about having the need to really pass my 2nd attempt. I have no choice but to pass it. Otherwise, another payment has to be done and that’s no thank you for me.
I had to get another road test schedule and because it was super fully-booked, the school gave me a schedule 40 days from my first road test. I had to wait for 40 days.. before I could retake my road test. I also booked my refresher course (the reserved 4 days I said earlier) before my test day so I had some kind of practice after more than a month of not driving. The day came and hello Road Test Day, attempt #2 a.k.a the last attempt. Another early Monday morning, arrived the same time and went to the same cabin to wait. My name was called around 8:00 am. I sat in the back, lesson learned I won’t go first this time haha! Rather, I wanted to be the second. The police officer asked me to do u-turns on the road for 4-5 times. This is basically how my exam went..
Police: Straight.. straight.. park.
*parks by the side road*
Police: Okay u-turn.
Police: Straight.. straight.. turn left.. park.
*parks by the side road*
Police: Okay u-turn.
Repeat for 3 more times. That’s how the 4 minutes of my road test went. No roundabouts, no traffic signals. It was the complete opposite of how my first attempt went. I got out of the car and the next student sat in the driver’s seat. I felt good about my actual driving and the police officer was so friendly that he even asked me if I was alright when the last student failed to hit the brake on the speed hump and we had this little sudden bounce. We got back to the school and waited inside the cabin. It took around an hour before the same guy in the suit came inside and began announcing names. Despite being confident about my driving this time, I was still mad nervous about the results. When he said “Sharice Tan..passed” I can’t even tell you how happy I am! The anxiety of the need to pass because it was already my last attempt instantly disappeared.
Claiming your license.
I, along with other students who passed, was escorted to this room where we can pay and claim our driving license right away. I happily waited for my number and paid QR 250 for my license. Take note that they don’t accept cash, only debit or credit cards. Finally, after 3 months (including waiting time and all the classes) — I finally got my driving license! I used to tell myself “as soon as I turn 18, I will get my driving license!” and I’m so happy that I did!
I tried to be as thorough and as specific as I can to help anyone of you who are interested in getting a driving license in Qatar. I remember searching for articles and blog posts about Qatar driving schools, classes, and steps to get a license but I couldn’t find anyone who wrote about their personal experience. Hopefully, this helps! If you have any questions, you can reach me on my Instagram. See disclaimer below.