The Qatari government has quietly tightened the rules on how expats obtain driving licences, requiring some of them take lessons or a driving test, according to a report in Doha News.

Western expats are finding it harder to get a licence in Qatar since the new rules took effect last month, it said. In particular, UK, European and Australian residents must now take a driver’s test and/or driving lessons in order to get a licence.

Previously, they only had to show their licence from their country of origin and take a new eye test.

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The changes were quietly introduced on January 1 but were not publicised, the newspaper said, quoting officials from several embassies in Qatar.

Arabian Business has contacted the country’s Traffic Department for more information.

Qatar’s government services website Hukoomi states only that: “Motorists are required to hold a valid driving license [sic] in order to drive in Qatar. New visitor and tourists may use an international driving permit for up to six months, after which they are required to obtain a Qatari driving license.

“Some foreign driving licenses are recognised in Qatar, and can be converted into a valid Qatari driving license without any additional driving tests. First-time drivers should enroll in driving school ahead of time.

It added: “A vision test is mandatory for all applicants. This can be completed at the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department, or through a private hospital, clinic or licensed professional.”

It is not known why the changes were implemented.