Category Archives: Driving

Saved by the distance

Just got a nearmiss two days ago. Eyes on the road, hard braking and safe following distance saved me from otherwise a potential car accident of hitting a car in front of mine. Spaced nearly by one meter. Fortunately the guy at the back swerved his car to the right and I was relieved from being rear ended. It seems that one driver took an abrupt change and the following drivers had to apply sudden brake. I’ve seen many accidents of this type during my almost 7 years in Qatar (good examples could be those happened many times on a Al Gharafa Flyover). Really, I can emphasize enough the importance of safe following distance. The distances vary depending on what speed you are travelling, what conditions you are driving in and what type of vehicle you are driving. In most cases, a safe following distance is much greater than a car length. In general a driver in a car should drive at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front in ideal conditions. In poor conditions (dust, fog, rain) the distances should be increased. The thing here in Qatar is if you give a (two-second) space it is highly likely that somebody will fill in the spot. But for the sake of your own safety, ignore it and make another two-second space.

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Even one is too many

I received sad news on my BBM group when I was about to go to a bed. One fellow Indonesian killed in a tragic car accident in a road stretch between Umm Birka R/A (commonly known as Fish R/A) and Qatargas R/A. Along with him is two other victims (Qatari nationals). They happen to be from the same section in one of the energy companies in Ras Laffan. The Indonesian was on the way home in Doha from his dayshift while the other two are on the way to Ras Laffan (Note: confirmation required)

Innalillahi wa innailaihi rojiun. My thoughts and prayers are with them and their bereaved family during this difficult time of grief and may the departed souls rest peacefully in God’s grace.

The road is basically a continuation road of Route 77 Ras Laffan Highway, a 12-km stretch of one-lane two-way poor and narrow road without lighting at night. Linking Ras Laffan to Al Shamal Road, the road is a favorite to Ras Laffaners. I occassionaly used the road during my rare self-driving commuting to Ras Laffan (most of the time I use bus) and I can tell you how at risk I am driving down the road. The road users must navigate rough road, with patchy asphalted road, share with slow-moving truck, and heavy traffic.

The road has claimed many lives. I can only urge authority to look into this road more seriously because….

Even one (death) is too many.

In a split second a traffic accident like this transforms forever the life of a family. Behind each statistic, there are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, colleagues, classmates and friends. I think we all become too desensitized to road statistics and develop a sense of invulnerability, thinking road crashes happen only to others

I can only take deep breath, thinking of my family who is currently away. I promise myself to drive safely, to question the need of every trip, to obey traffic rules, to wear seatbelt, to not use phone or engaged in other distractions, to keep speed appropriate with road conditions, to allow 2-4 seconds safe distance, to not drive fatigued, to take rest breaks, to let other road users aware of my position and to keep vigilant of other road users action.

I will always drive safely, for me and utmostly for my family. This is a promise I make not to be broken.

Car Inspection in Al Wakrah

Today, I took my Outlander for inspection for annual istimarah renewal. Unlike before, this time I chose FAHES vehicle inspection point in Al Wakrah. No specific reason except that the inspection point is easy to find, and the inspection itself is well-known for its quickness.

The site is located at ground in front of Hamza bin Abdulmotaleb Mosque (a grand mosque you’ll see on your right when driving from Doha to Messaied on Wakrah – Messaied main road). The mosque is about 300m south of the famous Pearl Roundabout.

Knowing from other’s experience that inspection line can be long during Saturday morning, I made myself hit the road at 5.35am from home. Arrived there at 6.05am, you know what, I was already on the 21st spot, the best I can get. Not long after, line after me quickly filled up. By 7.05am when the inspection started, the queue was probably around 40 cars. (Note: some said that inspection during weekday or Saturday afternoon may be less crowded).

And yes, I had to wait for about an hour before the inspection started. Fortunately I came prepared with hot tea to beat cold winter, newspaper and Android tablet to kill the time, and a pack of snack – fearing that inspection is gonna take so long.

Snaking around the entrance, car-by-car was inspected very quickly. It took less than 5 minute per car to be inspected, which includes technical and legal checks. Prior to go to inspection bay, car owner must register his/her car in registration office (brown building), just next to inspection bay (blue building). Inspection fee is QR75 cash only.

Finished with inspection, I went to registration office to get inspection result. My car failed in Tint/Film on Windshield Film a part of  Legal Requirements. No worry though as  I could seek waiver from a standby Police Officer, who don’t bother to check my car windshields. By 7.40am all was done. The rest is a formality for istimarah renewal with insurance and Traffic Dept.

This was 6.15am and inspection line has been this long (Al Wakrah Vehicle Inspection. Hamza bin Abdulmotaleb Mosque (left) and small brown building is registration office, blue building is inspection bay (right)

 

Vehicle Inspection in Al Wakrah. Brown building is registration office, blue building is inspection bay.

 

25°10’26″N   51°36’21″E (click link to take you to Wikimapia) 

Obtaining International Driving License in Qatar

UPDATE:

I’ve got another IDL for the second time; now directly from Qatar Automobiles & Touring Club (QATC). Unlike the previous one, the new IDL comes in a smaller size and more handy. The fee is 100QR and it takes only 5 minutes.  Requirements are still the same: Qatari Driving License & 2-passport size photos. I’m not sure about opening hours  but when I visited them on Saturday, 10:40am, they were open.

Location:

Opposite Doha Petrol Centre (petrol station) on C-Ring Road; between Gulf Cinema signal and Toyota Signal. QATC is located on the ground floor (end of corridor) of a building sharing with Aswan Trading & Contracting Co. If you pass QNB or Commercial Bank, you’ve driven too far. Taking parallel slip road is recommended.

Wikimapia Map

Coordinate: 25°15’51″N 51°32’45″E

New Qatar International Driving License
New Qatar International Driving License

QATC Building

——

I just obtained an international driving license for the purpose of driving in a foreign country for this upcoming vacation. Obtaining one is not a hassle. While Qatar Automobiles & Touring Club (QATC) is the sole authority in Qatar to issue International Driving License, you can obtain the same from any major travel/car rental agents in Qatar (I read that it can be obtained at the following*: Al Muftah Rent A Car, Ali bin Ali Travel, Sulaiman Travel, Aamal Travel). *Note: Not an exhaustive list.

I obtained mine through Aamal Travel & Tourism in City Center. No specific reason except it is conveniently located at City Center (don’t tell me about the parking though:) ). I submitted a copy of Qatar driving license, two photographs (any color), and QR100. The license is ready the next day. Some said that it should have been ready within an hour.

The international driving license is valid for one year from the issuing date. the license contains information on personal identity, type of vehicle for which the license is issued, and driving license number.

International Driving License issued in Qatar

So I don’t need a company letter then ya?

Good move! Thanks! But I already have my driving license though 🙂
 
To be honest I just don’t like to obtain a company letter for any personal business like i.e. driving license application, buying a car. It seems to me that company is too intervening into personal life. Additionally I am feeling a bit of being scrutinized on personal businesses –  why must company bother with I am buying a car?
 
I believe that more and more types of those practices will be abandoned as Qatar is under the spotlight now.
 
Next? Exit permit, then no NOC to move to another company….finger crossed 🙂
——
Driving licence rules to be eased

 

SANTHOSH CHANDRANDOHA

THERE is some good news for people seeking driving licence in Qatar.

The Traffic Department at the Ministry of Interior (MoI) is likely to relax the rules currently needed to apply for a driving licence.

At present, people seeking a driving licence need to go through a lengthy process.

They are required to provide a letter from the employer and a copy of sponsor’s Company Registration, among other documents, to their respective driving centres to apply for a licence.

However, the new rules would require the individual to furnish only the personal ID card and an eye-test certificate.

The Traffic Department is likely to announce the relaxation of rule this month.

According to a high-ranking official at Mowasalat’s Karwa Transportation Training & Development Centre (KTTDC), a large number of people have started enrolling their names in anticipation to the relaxation of the licence rule.

“The new regulation to apply for a driving licence will be announced shortly.

Anyone carrying a resident permit in the country will be allowed to enroll in the driving schools to learn driving,” he said.

“Earlier, one had to furnish documents such as letter from employer, copy of sponsor’s Company Registration (RC), along with other personal IDs to apply for a driving licence.

If the new rule comes into effect, it will become much easier for people who have difficulty in getting documents from their sponsors.

We are now waiting for a final confirmation from the MoI,” the source added.

Welcoming the possible change in rules, Rafeekh Ahamed, an Indian expatriate said, “Getting documents from employers, which is required to apply for a driving licence, is not easy at all.” Meanwhile, some people have already received messages from driving schools like AlKebra DS on the new application rule.

The message read, “No need of sponsor’s letter for driving licence.

Enroll your name with ID card, eye-test certificate and five photographs.” A Mowasalat official said that over 250 people had approached KTTDC on Wednesday to enroll their names.

 

Transfer of Vehicle Ownership

Just today I sold my car and completed the necessary procedure for transfer of vehicle ownership. The process is straightforward. Here is how.

From Hukoomi (Qatar E-Government):

When a vehicle is sold from one owner to another, the buyer and seller are required to complete the transfer of ownership. The procedure allows the buyer to become the new registered owner.

Follow these steps to transfer the ownership of a vehicle:

  • Print and fill out the application form.
  • Bring original vehicle registration, along with copies of ID from both seller and buyer.
  • Supply insurance document under the buyer’s name.
  • Produce a no objection letter from the seller, if he/she is not present.
  • Submit all required documents to the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department.
  • Pay appropriate fee.

Now let’s see how it is in practice.

Secured a deal with the potential buyer, I and the buyer went to nearest Traffic Police Station. We went to Al Khor Traffic Police as both of us working in Ras Laffan. We asked a typist at portacabin to complete the required application form. We presented to him: original vehicle registration and IDs. He asked us our mobile numbers to put into the application form. 10QR for this typing service.

We went then to traffic police office, presented her the application form, original istimarah and copies of ID. It turned out that we needed to also supply an insurance paper associated with the vehicle.That’s what worried me. I totally remember that when I renewed the istimarah, Al Khaleeji Insurance man at the satellite office in Rayyan Traffic Police didnot give me the paper. Sh**. I regretted my stupidity to accept his words that insurance paper was not required because it is clearly mentioned at the back of istimarah. It won’t cause you a problem, unless you need to sell the car.

We inquire the matter to Al Khaleeji officer at the same portacabin only to be advised that we needed to go to its main office in Grand Hamad St. in Doha. His satellite office is not online (connected to main office). Aaaargh…

The same day on the evening, I went to Al Khaleeji satellite office in Rayyan Traffic Police. Just in case. The answer: no different. Okay. Now time to vent my exacerbation. I had a talk with the same old man; warned him that he and his insurance couldn’t just be simply not giving a copy to its customer since it causes headache when it comes to transfer. I can say this because the other insurance always gives the copy (Note: I took Islamic Insurance for my Mitsubishi and I had the copy). A new list added to my [you know that].

And then there was another twist. Seeing I came with the application form in copy not original, the man insisted me to make a new application using original as he said the traffic office may not accept a copy of application form. I convinced him that I just came from Al Khor Traffic and the form was provided by the typist, and it was okay except the missing insurance paper. “Paper that you didn’t give me last time….” I told him, again. May be he is right that Rayyan Office does not accept application form in copy, but the fact that he is working in a silo and doesn’t listen to me only justify my plan not to use his insurance in the future. Inuf!

Lesson Learned: Do make sure that you get a copy of insurance paper!

The following morning I went to Al Khaleeji Insurance Main Office, at Grand Hamad St, just beside Mashraf Al Rayyan. Fortunately it went very smooth. No queue, and no fee – contrary to what I have read. Feel bad for this good service due to the poor old man in the insurance’s satellite office in Rayyan. What to do…I am just a customer, and I have the right to choose 🙂

With the insurance paper completed, I went back to Al Khor Traffic Police (on the way back to work at Ras Laffan). And it also went very smooth. The – probably- same lady received my application and processed swiftly. Within minutes after I paid 100QR fee by card, the new istimarah is ready. Well done.

You may have heard that for buying a vehicle, an NOC from company is required. In our transfer case, my car buyer was never asked such document. Some people said that if you are working for Q company no NOC is required, but this was also not true as I was asked in Rayyan Office to provide the document (about 14months ago when I bought this car). E-Hukoomi doesn’t specify an NOC requirement although a poster in Al Khor Traffic Police Office does say so.

Testing the luck: 3 year-old car registration renewal

It seems exaggerated 🙂 but in fact it is true somewhat.

Per Qatari laws, vehicle older than 3 years is to pass yearly technical inspection for renewal of car registration.  The thing is on the 3 years old definition. Is it from manufacturing date? from the first car registration? or from year model? Majority says it’s from year model. So if you bought a 2010 model car in Nov 2009 and first registered it on December 2009 it is as if you save one year for “no technical inspection”. But again it’s only personal opinion.

Take for an example my case. My car registration is due on 1 February 2011. My car was manufactured on July 2008. It is 2008 model but it’s first registered on 1st February 2009. Shall I need to go for technical inspection first prior to renew the car registration?

I googled the matter and found formal explanation from E-Hukoomi  (which is an excellent e-government service of Qatar). This is how it’s explained:

Vehicle owners are required to renew their vehicle registrations every year. Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Clear all traffic fines.
  • Pass yearly technical inspection (for vehicles older than three years).
  • Renew vehicle insurance

I then asked my friend who have done similar matter. And I’ve got various responses. Some said their car doesn’t need to go for inspection. Some said theirs does. Some said it depends on your luck? Luck?

Luck does play a part here, sometimes. The problem is no body can even control it. What works for someone doesn’t mean work for you.

 I went to “A” Traffic Police for renewal. First thing is to go to Insurance Booth. Pay 620 QR (600 QR for 4×4 6 cylinders third party liability insurance, and 20QR for fee). Then I went to Registration/License counter. The friendly staff lady with her mafi-English tried to convey messages that I need to bring inspection report first. I – with my mafi-Arabic – tried to convince that my car is first registered in 2009 and that this is the second renewal. But the lady refused me with smile.

Consulted with some of my friends, many suggested me to go to B Traffic Police ( just another traffic police office) because they said it is easier there. So here I go. I went there just after Maghrib prayer (the office stays open till night). I went directly to counter and handed in old car registration and copy of insurance. With no conversation what so ever other than assalamualaikum.

“Bank card!”

Now I know this is gonna work!

And yes, the staff lady asked me to key in pin number for my ATM…. then khalas. Wait for about 5 minutes and I had with me a new car registration. No question. No inspection report required. Just luck!

And for 3 years old car definition, I have no answer until now. Care to help me?

Disclaimer:

It is not my intention to look for a bypass for compliance to the law. At the end of the day, technical inspection is only QR75 cost and I am definitely sure that my car will pass due to its new condition. Therefore it is also not my intention to encourage you to ‘go around’ the system, or to go to particular traffic police for ” a luck”. I wish I knew the exact definition. It’s probably left to staff interpretation I guess?