Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Doha: Keep Your Camera Handy

Today I had one of those experiences I have so often in Doha, a “no-one-would-believe-me” moment, but I have learned to keep my camera handy, and fortunately we were stopped in traffic so I could snap this one without endangering any lives, especially my own.

Traffic is steady, busy, but pretty mellow. Yeh, there are the normal “I’m-going-to-make-a-left-turn-from-the-right-lane” guys; I’ve lived here for so long it doesn’t even rate a roll of the eyes. It’s part of the Doha / Kuwait driving culture.

This, however, I only see in Qatar. Mr. I’m-So-Important-I-Can’t-Wait is this guy in the white Land Cruiser.


He is sitting half on top of the street median, trying to get back into traffic going in his direction. To get there, he drove down the wrong way down the street on the other side of the divider. At first, there was no traffic, but when traffic came, he got up on the divider so he was only HALF blocking traffic from the other direction, and he is bullying his way back into the line he was too important to wait in.

I carry my camera now, every day, in my purse, because I know if I just tell you about these things, you won’t believe them.

I have seen this also at major roundabouts. Some yahoo drives up the other side of the road to the roundabout to avoid waiting in the line. Up over the medians, facing oncoming traffic. I know, I know, what are they thinking?

In Kuwait, I was sickened by the number of young men killed on the roads every week, every month. If it were an epidemic killing young men, people would do something about it, but tell these guys to obey the law? Make them pay fines for reckless driving? Make them wear seat belts? Their behavior tells me that no one has ever held them accountable for their arrogant and dangerous driving habits.

While we are told that “no one is above the law” somehow the message hasn’t made it to these guys.

November 12, 2009 - Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Crime, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Safety, Social Issues


  1. I remember talking to Kuwaitis about this problem. At its core, the issue is that while Gulf countries claim “rule of law,” they actually are “rule of man” nations. When tribe and royalty are the core values, the law is only enforced in those who do not have wasta. If any of those kids got a ticket, they would have appealed to their tribal name or to powerful friends…it is what keeps Kuwait stable.

    Comment by Arifjan Anglican | November 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. AA, I think you’re right. Have you ever met a Kuwaiti who paid a Kuwait traffic ticket? I think sometimes they get stopped for speeding, but I don’t think they even get tickets.

    I also think there are people in both countries who are truly and sincerely committed to transparency, and equality before the law. I honor their valiant struggle; it takes time to change mentality; it’s a real uphill battle. Qatar faces the same struggle: the desire to become modernized and the counter-tug of tribes and families who put their interests above that of the nation. I’m guessing it just takes time.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. Intlexpatr ;

    Do you need wasta ??

    Comment by daggero | November 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. Daggero. Always. You got some to spare? 😀

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 15, 2009 | Reply

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