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Qatar mulling expat driving ban

Expatriates trying to get a driving licence in Qatar may find it increasingly difficult in the future as the authorities contemplate ways of cutting down on traffic.

Last year, labourers were banned from obtaining the document and now foreign residents are in the sights of the Gulf state.

The Advisory Council is looking at further measures to address the increasing problems of regular traffic jams and pollution, which are blighting the country.

A circular issued by the Department of Traffic last July ordered that labourers must not be registered at driving schools and a similar approach may be applied to expats.

While the decision is being considered, the State Cabinet has sought data from the National Committee for Traffic Safety, which has conducted a study on congestion over the course of three months, Al Sharq reports.

Other approaches recommended by the committee include building additional multi-storey car parks to house cars once they are in the city, as well as persuading people away from private vehicles by promoting public transport options.

One demographic that could decrease traffic considerably is school pupils and encouraging educational establishments to introduce buses is another possibility.

Companies could also adopt a similar approach and bus staff in from residential areas to start work at the same time.

Some 138 traffic congestion hotspots have been identified and a number of approaches may need to be adopted if all of these are tackled.

The traffic congestion is a result of an expanding population in Qatar, which saw 16,244 new vehicles on the roads and 16,931 additional licenses granted in the first two months of 2014 alone.

These figures from the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics also state that 94 per cent of the new cars on the road belong to expats, which explains why they are likely to be targeted with a ban.

No decision has yet been made, but expats should be aware that their days of driving in Doha and the rest of Qatar could be numbered.

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