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Updated December 2022
The FIFA World Cup is here and football fans armed with their match tickets have already planned out the easiest way to get to Qatar in November through World Cup travel packages. Saudis looking to attend the most prestigious and anticipated football event of the year are fortunate due to their close proximity to Doha, which is easily accessible by road.
Looking to drive your way from the Kingdom to Doha for the World Cup? Then here’s everything you need to know before your road trip, the documents necessary and other aspects of driving between countries.
Please note: Effective today, Qatar’s Ministry of Interior has announced that Qatari citizens and GCC residents will be allowed to enter the country without a Hayya card. Only non-GCC tourists and visitors attending the World Cup matches will require the Hayya card.
Multiple-entry visa for Hayya Card holders
With international fans basing their World Cup Journey in Saudi Arabia, the authorities have recently announced new multiple-entry visit visa schemes for international fans holding the Hayya Card.
An announcement by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed a new multiple-entry visit visa to Saudi Arabia will be available for fans holding the Hayya Card.
Holders of the Hayya Card may apply for a new Saudi visa allowing for a 60-day stay in the Kingdom beginning 10 days before the tournament kicks off.
How long does it take to reach Doha from Saudi Arabia?
While flights take only 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach Doha from Saudi Arabia, airfares have been skyrocketing following the increased demand for flight tickets. Instead, driving to Doha is cheaper and enjoyable too, especially for those with a passion for driving.
Riyadh to Doha: 581 km
Time duration: 6 hours
Speed: 90-100 km/h
Moreover, the Salwa Border Crossing between Saudi and Qatar will be open for land travel and the new port will have an increased daily capacity of more than 24,000 cars.
How to drive to Doha from Saudi Arabia?
With a little more time to shed on travelling and acquiring proper vehicle insurance, you can easily drive your way to the World Cup this year.
To reach Doha, you will have to take Route 522. Route 522, which is around 120 km between Riyadh and Qatar’s border, is in excellent condition, and you can have a hassle-free drive. You will then reach Salwa, the Saudi Arabia-Qatar border, after which you will be entering Qatar.
Do note that border clearance in Salwa may even take upto two hours, depending on traffic and scrutiny.
Land border crossing requirements
According to officials, the Abu Samra border crossing is now available to visitors and can now handle 4,000 travelers per hour thanks to enhanced facilities and free parking. Following are the several categories into which the entry processes at the border crossing have been divided:
Those coming through Abu Samra land border to attend one or more matches within 24 hours can enter and exit without a prior hotel reservation, provided they meet certain conditions. #MOIQatar #Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/bHmmVFhyBV
— Ministry of Interior (@MOI_QatarEn) October 16, 2022
For GCC nationals, residents, and anyone with Qatari ID cards (cars with Qatari number plates)
They must enter the country as frequently as they would under normal situations, provided that:
- They must be driven in a vehicle with a Qatari license plate.
- The use of a Hayya card is optional.
Fans with special permission
Fans with special permission need to note that the vehicle entry permit is for single use only and cannot be used for multiple visits. Below are the requirements of the land border crossing for fans with special permission:
- A confirmed accommodation approved through the Hayya platform for a minimum of 5 nights is a must for the driver only.
- There should be a minimum of three people in the vehicle and shall not exceed a maximum of six people, and all of them should carry a Hayya card.
- Apply for the vehicle entry permit on the official Hayya platform. If approved, the applicant will receive an email with a link to obtain the vehicle insurance electronically.
- Upon completion of the insurance, the applicant must follow up on the platform within 24 hours to obtain the permit by paying a non-refundable fee of QAR 5,000 (SAR 5,160).
Anyone entering or leaving Qatar for a match or matches within 24 hours may do so without making hotel bookings first. However, in order for them to enter, the following requirements must be met:
- Carry a Hayya card (one-day fan category)
- Pre-booking of a car parking lot through the Hayya platform before arriving in Qatar.
- Parking is free for the first 24 hours from the time of entry.
- A service fee of QAR 1,000 will be charged for the second day. If the vehicle has been parked for more than 48 hours from entry, the vehicle will be towed, and another QAR 1,000 towing fee will be charged. (Payment can be made electronically through a link that will be sent to their email registered on the platform).
- Ride in Qatari buses from Abu Samra checkpoint to Doha Central Station (Al Messila) or to the Family and Friends Meet and Greet Area at Al Qalayel.
Fans arriving by bus
The following prerequisites must be met in order for fans arriving by bus to enter:
- All passengers are required to carry a Hayya Card.
- Reach the arrivals hall at the checkpoint to complete the entry procedures into the country.
- Take the Qatar buses from the border to Doha Central Station (Al Messila) or to the Family and Friends Meet and Greet Area outside the border at Al Qalayel.
For those who do not have a Hayya card (through airports only), as follows:
- Apply for the permit through the Ministry of Home Affairs website – www.moi.gov.qa.
- Applications will be reviewed and answered within six hours. The approval will be emailed to the applicant when the conditions are met.
- The permit can only be used once.
Commercial trucks will be allowed to enter through the Abu Samra Border Crossing from 11PM to 6AM from November 15 to December 22, 2022, to ensure smooth entry for football fans.
You will need a valid visa for both Saudi Arabia and Qatar to make the journey from Dubai to Qatar by road.
Visitors entering Qatar will no longer be required to present a negative PCR test or RAT result. Furthermore, the requirement for showing Covid-19 status on the Etheraz app has also been dropped.
However, travelers must still show the app before entering a healthcare facility.
Vehicle insurance is necessary to enter Qatar. Upon reaching Qatar’s border, all travelers will be required to buy mandatory vehicle insurance for around QAR 90.
If you do not own a car, you can go for car rentals, which start from about SAR 115 per day. However, make sure to check that the rental company allows you to drive the car out of the country, as not many car rentals in the KSA permit drivers to do so. Keep all necessary documents like rental agreement and car ownership ready, along with insurance.
Most rental companies will ask for:
- Enough available funds for the car’s deposit.
- A valid driving license.
- Passport or any other ID the rent company needs to see.
Parking your car in Qatar
If you bring your own vehicle to Qatar, you will need to pay SAR 5160 for the vehicle entry permit. This exceptional entry permit will only be granted to fans with confirmed accommodation for at least five nights. There must also be a minimum of at least three passengers in the car when crossing the border.
You have to pre-book your parking space as well. To go to the match, you can catch a bus into Doha Central Station (Al Messila) – and the Doha Metro is set to run between 6am and 3am from Saturday to Thursday with Friday services running from 9am to 3am.
This requirement only applies to fans outside of citizens, residents and GCC nationals who have a Qatari ID card driving a vehicle with local number plates.