Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and the General Directorate of Traffic have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to regulate the use and renting of tourist 4x4 vehicles, including cars and quad bikes, which are used in desert adventure and safari activities.
According to the new regulations, only tour guides licensed by QTA to drive 4x4 vehicles will be permitted to take tourists out on desert safaris.
Vehicles cannot be rented out after dark, except with a permit from QTA, which will be provided in the case of special events held in specified areas.
In addition, and as part of a set of safety standards, the regulations specify a minimum age for those who rent quad bikes, and the areas where quad bikes can be ridden, which include tracks that are currently being set up in desert areas for that purpose.
To enforce the regulations, QTA employees who are charged with co-ordinating with the Traffic Department and officials from other relevant government departments, will regularly inspect tourism agencies who are licensed to rent 4x4 vehicles to tourists and visitors to the area.
“This agreement comes as part of a broader collaborative initiative, involving various public and private sector entities, to enhance the desert experience while ensuring maximum safety and security for citizens, residents and visitors,” QTA’s acting chairman Hassan al-Ibrahim said.
“Enhancing the visitor experience is a cross-sectoral endeavour and is at the heart of the tourism sector strategy for the next five years. That is why the conditions and regulations have been put in place after a series of discussions between QTA, the General Directorate of Traffic, tourism businesses and youth groups, to ensure that the visitor experience does not come at the expense of us meeting the international standards of safety and security,” he added.
Major General Mohamed Saad al-Kharji, director general of the General Directorate of Traffic, said: “There can be no complacency when it comes to the safety of our citizens, residents and visitors.”
“This collaboration with QTA is necessary to protect the lives of our visitors to Qatar’s desert areas. A key element of the agreement is also the organisation of awareness campaigns during the winter camping season to ensure that campers, visitors and all service providers in the desert area are aware of the safest ways to operate 4x4 vehicles and quad bikes,” he added.
The agreement comes as QTA and its partners prepare for the launch of Al Enna, a project that aims to enhance the winter campaign and desert experiences in Sealine and Al Adaid areas.
Quad biking and dune bashing are key tourism products that have are popular in the northern and southern desert areas of the country.
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