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Qatar - Just the Facts #1 - Driving & Insurance

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Joined: 03 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 2:25 pm    Post subject: Qatar - Just the Facts #1 - Driving & Insurance Reply with quote

1. The first point any potential new recruit to Qatar should be aware of is this: Driving here is a very risky and stressful affair. Of course I am only restating what has already been stated here and other places many times before. Yet this point needs to be reiterated at regular intervals, lest people forget. Well, you might say, 'it's no picnic driving in Korea, Thailand, or Mexico either'! I would reply by saying that driving in those places may indeed be risky - local drivers there may be inconsiderate, and they may have little respect for the rules of the road, whatever they may be, but here in Qatar, the risks are of an entirely different order. Many Qatari citizens, primarily young men, drive in an extremely reckless and belligerent manner – as if their intentions are to provoke and endanger other drivers. They deliberately seek confrontations with expat motorists in order to exercise the legal double standard that exits in this country, which shields them from responsibility and also allows them to act as defacto ‘deputies of the state' – whereby they can accuse any non-Qatari of any charge they like. Anyone who has responded to such reckless acts of endangerment on the road by flipping the bird (or with any other gesture of exasperation) to the offending party has likely faced an official reprimand from the Qatari police. In the past, expats have even been deported for reacting to the reckless behaviour of Qatari drivers. It’s important to remember that this is a tribal society, and it is still governed largely through blood ties and clan loyalty – not by an independent judiciary or police force.

2. If, after all the warnings and your own better judgment, you decide to relocate to Qatar anyway, you need to be aware of the following important fact:

In the event of an auto accident (and you will have one), Qatari auto insurance covers ONLY the basic minimum costs involved with repairing your vehicle. It does NOT cover any medical costs associated with the accident, or any other direct or indirect costs, such as car rental, medications, sick leave from employment, or for ‘pain and suffering’.

In such a case, the insurance company will either send your car for repair to one of the many automotive sweat-shops located in Qatar, where Nepalese or Indian peasant-workers, none of whom have ever owned their own car, will bang out the dents in yours and splash some paint on it. If you don’t agree to have the work done at the shop designated by the insurance company, preferring instead to have it done at the dealer (because your car is less than a year old), they will suggest settling the claim with a low-ball offer of cash which won’t get the job done.

Also keep in mind the fact that Qatar has a very poorly developed legal system, and does not have a user-friendly civil claims court, which might otherwise be used to seek restitution from absconding auto insurance companies. Therefore, don’t expect to be able to recoup any costs incurred as a result of an auto accident through the Qatari court system. Unless your case involves sums large enough to attract a lawyer willing to work on commission, the courts offer no hope.

The bottom line is that anyone who decides to live and work in Qatar needs to purchase separate insurance policies to cover all possible costs associated with automobile accidents ~ as Qatari auto insurance covers very little.
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