There are many options for getting around in Doha if you don’t drive or are waiting to get your license.
In just a few decades, Qatar has changed from a flat, sandy town to an international city with award-winning architecture. Now crowned the hub for natural gas business and research and a key destination for travellers in the energy, medical and construction industries, it is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. So, with the country in a state of construction for a few more years yet, what are the smartest ways to get around town?
The government run public transport company, Mowasalat, operates modern, air-conditioned, large blue 40-seater buses with more than 35 routes covering all the main locations in Doha. The buses operate from 6:00-00:00. This is a great option if you are new to Doha and want to get to see the more “unknown” parts of town especially considering that parking facilities in Doha are limited.
Although you won’t find many of them riding the buses alone, the front seats are reserved for women and children. You can catch a bus from any dedicated bus stop, which is advisable; even though you may see some people flag them down (even on major highways). Each route starts and ends from the main bus station, Al Ghanem, and the buses are very clean and are normally running on schedule.
Click here to view routes, timetables and downloadable map or contact the call centre, which is available 24 hours, 365 days of the year at 4458-8888.
Passengers must buy a Karwa Smartcard from the main bus station in Al Ghanem or various other local retailers around town (try the petrol stations). The cards are swiped upon boarding and disembarking taking the appropriate fee travelled. Fares within the Doha city area are usually around QR3-4 and the price of an intercity journey goes up to QR9 one-way. The cards cost QR30, with QR20 available as credit. Those who do not travel with a Smartcard or discover they don’t have enough credit on their Smartcard can pay cash for their journey, however a “no card fee” of QR10 is applied.
West Bay bus service
Launched in 2014, this service provides free transportation around the West Bay area of Doha, known as the “other Doha city” with its eye-catching skyline and entertainment appeal.
There are two bus routes available covering the whole area. They are designed to connect tourists, workers and residences and assist in reducing traffic congestion and resolving some parking issues until alternatives are available. The first route (red route) links West Bay with City Centre, the Corniche and the general post office whilst the second route (blue route) links West Bay with City Centre, Al Bidda Street and Khalifa Stadium.
The buses feature an internal TV system, air-conditioning and leather seats. Free route maps are available and signposts are clearly marked with its logo. The services run from 06:00-00:00 daily at 15-minute intervals.
Karwa, a branch of Mowasalat, operates more than 3,000 taxi sedans with stations scattered across the city. These are the turquoise-coloured taxis with Karwa labels on the doors. With the ever-increasing population, the demand can be oversubscribed at peak times. In fact, it can be difficult to flag down a car, so be sure to book your ride in advance or look for predesignated taxi stands at the malls and airport.
The metre starts running at QR4 then charges QR1.20 per kilometre inside Doha and QR 1.80 outside Doha. The taxi fare from the airport to any destination in Doha should not exceed QR25.
The taxis are tracked by GPS, enabling the company to redirect their vehicles to customers quickly. A printed receipt for every fare is available and an advance booking service can be arranged by calling the 24-hour call centre on 800-5500.
You can estimate your taxi ride on Numbeo by typing in your address and destination.
There is also a Pink Limousine service, which offers only women taxi drivers. Run by Alijarah, Qatar’s second taxi franchise operator of Mowasalat. Each trip costs a flat fee of QR30, and bookings can be made on 800-4488.
With cheap fuel and cars and expanding road networks, limousine service remains the most popular method of travel for those without their own vehicles. These “private taxis” and limousines provide a range of car options from standard sedans to luxury cars. And many people prefer the option of sitting in the backseat to relax or get work done, rather than behind a wheel in stressful Doha traffic.
It is not uncommon to see private drivers dropping off and picking up school children in Doha. Often, these companies can provide a
dedicated daily driver for you on a monthly schedule and at a negotiated rate. Many private taxi and limousine companies are affiliated with local employers and when people relocate to Doha, they often chose to use the same company as their employer. This also guarantees quality, safety and service. If, however, your employer is not associated with a specific taxi or limousine company, we have listed a few below that have been used by the Doha Mums community and are familiar with the needs of families and new residents to Qatar.
The average rate is QR50 per hour, but be sure to check your fee before making the booking:
- Airways Limousine: 7725-9948
- Super Limos: 3365-0407 (child seats available)
- Rotana Limousine: 6641-6034 (child seats and larger eight-seater vehicles are available)
- Sincere Limousine: 5531-2065
- City Limousine: 6682-3387
Karwa also operates a limousine service of unmarked Jaguars XJ vehicles with a fixed starting charge of QR20. They are normally situated at the airport. They do have a metre box inside the car so look out for this once you have selected the driver. To book a taxi or limousine, call the reservations line: 4458-8888.
These large and very colourful double-decker, open-top buses are seen all over Doha, allowing residents and visitors a unique style of sightseeing and discovery. For those new to Doha, it’s a great introduction to the main areas and gives you an orientation to the must-see attractions that will later on come in handy when trying to keep the children busy on the weekend. The concept is simple: it is a hop-on and hop-off facility, where you can purchase one ticket and stop and then rejoin any bus as many times as you please, for a half or whole day. You choose where you want to get off, take a walk, have a meal and then hop on the next bus. The experience includes complimentary tours at certain locations and buses come every 20 minutes. Children must be at least three-years-old and group discounts are available. Each location and attraction is listed on the map given to you upon purchase of your ticket.
Tickets cost QR180 for adults and QR90 for children and are sold at:
- City Centre Mall
- Souq Waqif
- The Pearl
- Any of the buses or shuttles
For more information go to www.dohabus.com or call 4442-2444 (open 08:00-20:00, 7 days a week)
The QR29.8 billion (US$8.2 billion) Doha metro, named Qatar Rail, will include four rail lines and an underground station in the centre of Doha with links to all the main stadiums currently being built for the 2022 World Cup football tournament. Its completion is estimated for 2019.
For now, there are no trains or metros available in Qatar. To get an update on the Qatar Rail project visit: www.qr.com.qa