As an oil-producing nation in the middle of the Persian Gulf, Qatar isn’t the first country you’d imagine taking the train in. But despite Qatar’s reputation as a vehicular paradise, local authorities are in the midst of building a high-quality public transport network with buses, trams, and metro trains. Start planning your next trip with the following topics:
- Public transport in Qatar
- Public transport apps in Qatar
- Trains in Qatar
- Trams in Qatar
- Buses in Qatar
- Taxis and ride-sharing services in Qatar
- Long-distance coaches in Qatar
- Airports in Qatar
- How disability-accessible is public transport in Qatar?
- How environmentally friendly is public transport in Qatar?
- Making a public transport complaint in Qatar
- Useful resources
Public transport in Qatar
Given Qatar’s hot climate and the local penchant for a leisurely drive, driving in Qatar is often the easiest and most comfortable way to get around. Although road conditions are generally quite good, high car ownership rates mean that traffic levels on Qatari streets can put full neighborhoods in a chokehold.
If you’re looking for a less stressful alternative to getting around, consider one of Qatar’s best-kept secrets: public transport. Qatar’s public transport network is fast, efficient, and generally quite affordable. A rapidly growing population coupled with the ongoing preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup mean that Qatar’s public transport offerings will only continue to improve.
Public transport apps in Qatar
- Sila was launched in 2021, bringing Qatar’s public transport to one streamlined platform. The app allows users to view public transport updates and plan journeys by metro, bus, taxi, and tram.
- The Doha Metro has a standalone app for planning a trip and managing your public transport card. The Doha Metro app is available for Android as well as iOS.
- Need a lift as part of your ride on the Doha Metro? metroexpress is a feeder service in and around six separate Doha Metro stations. Passengers can reserve a spot using the metroexpress app, which is available for Android as well as iOS.
- Karwa Taxi is Qatar’s state-owned taxi company. Pick a taxi, pay for a ride, and track your driver from within the app. The Karwa Taxi app is available for Android as well as iOS.
- Mowasalat, the national public bus transport company of Qatar, provides departure times, ticket sales, and Karwa Smart Card tracking, all within their own app. Karwa Bus is available for Android as well as iOS.
Trains in Qatar
State corporation Qatar Rail owns and operates almost all of the country’s railway lines, including the Doha Metro and the Lusail Tram.
Qatar Rail is participating in the Gulf Railway, a 2,177-kilometer project that will add passenger and freight rail services between Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Although the Saudi Arabian blockade against Qatar once threatened the Gulf Railway’s future, the restoration of diplomatic ties between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in January 2021 bodes well for the future of regional rail. The Gulf Railway is slated for completion in 2023.
- Gold Line (خط الذهب): runs from Al Azizyah (العزيزية) to Ras Bu Abboud (راس أبو عبود)
- Green Line (الخط الاخضر): runs from Al Mansoura (المنصورة) to Al Riffa (الرفاع)
- Red Line (الخط الأحمر): runs from Lusail (لوسيل) to Al Wakra (الوكرة) and Hamad International Airport Terminal 1 (مطار حمد الدولي مبنى 1)
A fourth line, the Blue Line, is expected to open in 2026.
The Doha Metro uses reusable travel cards that passengers can top up with credit. There are two types of cards: the Standard travel card (QR10) for travel in Standard or Family classes and the Goldclub travel card (QR100), which entitles travelers to first-class Goldclub seating. Cards are valid for five years and can be topped up at ticket machines, online, or through the Qatar Rail app.
Fares for the Doha Metro are the following:
- Single fare: QR2 (Standard), QR10 (Goldclub)
- Day fare: QR6 (Standard), QR30 (Goldclub)
Children under five can ride the Doha Metro for free.
Trams in Qatar
Qatar Rail is currently constructing a tram network in Lusail (لوسيل), a planned city north of Doha. It will connect with two metro stations on the Red Line: Lusail and Legtaifiya (لقطيفية).
The Lusail tram network is expected to begin operations with four lines in 2021.
One tram line in Qatar is not managed by Qatar Rail: the Msheireb Tram. Built by local development company Msheireb Properties as part of a neighborhood regeneration project in Msheireb Downtown Doha, the Msheireb Tram operates on a nine-stop loop through the new city center.
The Msheireb Tram runs seven days a week until 21:00. This tram operates free of charge. It also connects with the Msheireb metro station on the Red, Gold, and Green lines of the Doha Metro.
Buses in Qatar
Mowasalat (مواصــــــلات) is the national transportation provider of Qatar, offering buses, taxis, and even limousines to travelers. There are dozens of Mowasalat bus routes, covering most of Doha and neighboring municipalities such as Al Khor (الخور), Al Rayyan (الريان), Al Shamal (الشمال), Bu Samra (بو سمرة), Dukhan (دخان), and Umm Salal (أم صلال). Mowasalat’s bus network centers around Al Ghanim Bus Station in the neighborhood of Old Al Ghanim (الغانم العتيق).
All Mowasalat buses use the Karwa Smart Card for fare collection. There are three types of cards: Limited (QR10; two journeys within 24 hours), Unlimited (QR20; unlimited number of journeys within 24 hours), and Classic (QR30; cards that store credit on them). Karwa Smart Cards are available from ticket machines at the Doha Bus Station, Hamad International Airport, the Qatar Mall, and The Pearl Qatar. Travelers can use the Karwa Smart Card by tapping it on the card reader when entering and alighting from the bus.
The Doha Metro also has two of its own bus networks: metrolink and metroexpress. There are 19 metrolink routes running seven days per week. The buses are free of charge. On the other hand, metroexpress is more of a ride-sharing service rather than a conventional bus. Travelers can book a ride in conjunction with their ride on the Doha Metro through the metroexpress app, which is available for Android and iOS. Metroexpress rides are available from six stations on the Red Line:
- Al Qassar (القصار)
- DECC (مركز المعارض)
- Katara (كتارا)
- Qatar University (جامعة قطر)
- West Bay (الخليج الغربي)
Taxis and ride-sharing services in Qatar
Perhaps unique in the world, a government-run public transport agency provides taxicabs in Qatar. Karwa is the taxicab arm of Mowasalat with about 7,000 aqua-colored taxis roaming streets throughout Qatar. The following fares apply for taxi rides in Qatar:
- Minimum fare: QR4 (within Doha), QR25 (at Hamad International Airport)
- Rate per kilometer: QR1.6 (within Doha and from Hamad International Airport), QR1.9 (outside Doha and during evening hours)
Passengers can book a Karwa Taxi by calling 800 8294 or using the Karwa Taxi app.
Other taxi companies do operate in Qatar. As with Karwa Taxi, most of the car livery is aqua except for the roof; different color roofs indicate a different taxi company. These companies include Al Ijarah Taxi (blue roof), Al Million Taxi (maroon roof), Capital Taxi (black roof), and Profit Trading Taxi (yellow roof).
Long-distance coaches in Qatar
As well as local buses, Mowasalat offers buses that travel between Doha and other Qatari cities. Longer distance routes include:
- 101 – Doha to Al Ruwais
- 104 – Doha to Dukhan
- 109 – Hamad International Airport to Mesaieed
- 136A – Doha to Abu Samra
- 727 – Hamad International Airport to Al-khor
You can find schedules and details of routes on Mowasalat’s website. The long-distance buses are slightly more luxurious than those used on the local routes, and include reclining seats. Mowasalat also provides buses that you can hire privately for events.
There are not currently buses running from Qatar to other countries. If you’re determined to take an international coach trip in the region, your best option is to contact a private travel company.
Airports in Qatar
The Civil Aviation Authority oversees airline safety in Qatar. As the country is smaller than some of its neighbors, it’s home to only one international airport. In addition, its only international airline, Qatar Airways, serves the sixth-largest number of countries among international airlines. Qatar Airways carried just over 32 million passengers in 2020.
Hamad International Airport opened in 2014 and replaced Doha International Airport. Situated about 20 kilometers by road from Doha city center, the airport hosts a large roster of international airlines with flights to destinations all over the world. As a busy international airport, it has plenty of facilities – including currency exchanges, hotel desks, prayer rooms, and meet and greet services.
There are a wealth of transit options for getting and from the airport. Of course, there is plenty of parking, car rentals, taxis, and even limousines available. For those looking for a more environmentally friendly option, Mowasalat runs several buses to the city center and the surrounding region. Qatar Metro Red Line also stops at the airport.
How disability-accessible is public transport in Qatar?
Despite the country’s metro network still having that new train smell, accessibility on public transport in Qatar is inconsistent. Stations on the Doha Metro are spacious and have fully-accessible platforms. On the other hand, metroexpress uses vans instead of buses; as a result, passengers with mobility issues can only use metroexpress if their wheelchair is collapsible.
As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Qatar has made fairly swift improvements to ensure public transport facilities are accessible to all. Accessible Qatar rates all Doha Metro stations as being fully accessible, lacking only in the information provided on the website for disabled travelers. Taxi companies in Qatar, such as the state-owned Karwa, do have wheelchair accessible vehicles, though these must be reserved by phone.
How environmentally friendly is public transport in Qatar?
For a country whose Ministry of Foreign Affairs refers to its oil and gas sector as Qatar’s economic backbone, it may seem somewhat ironic to any of the green credentials that public transport in Qatar may have. Nevertheless, the country’s national development plan as laid out in Qatar National Vision 2030 encourages a measured approach to balancing development within the limits of Qatar’s natural resources.
Mowasalat, Qatar’s public bus transport authority, appears to take the approach to heart, moving towards electrifying all of its fleets. 25% of all Mowasalat buses will be electric by 2022 (including 1,000 buses built by Chinese firm Yutong), with additional plans to shift their Karwa Taxi fleet towards electric vehicles as well.
Making a public transport complaint in Qatar
Any complaints or queries should be directed to the public transport company in Qatar that your complaint involves.
For complaints regarding the Doha Metro, Lusail Tram, or metro-related bus services, call 105 (from a Qatari phone number) or +974 4429 3777 (from a non-Qatari phone number). You can also contact the Doha Metro via the form on their website.
Complaints regarding Mowasalat buses or Karwa Taxi should go directly to Mowasalat. Call them at 4458 8588 or use the contact form on the Mowasalat website.