Skip to content

The 235-mile journey from Dubai to Doha that took over 8 hours — by air

Jan. 04, 2021
5 min read
The 235-mile journey from Dubai to Doha that took over 8 hours — by air
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Pretend it’s 8:30 a.m. and you’re on the freeway headed to work. Moments later, an accident shuts it down, forcing a long detour on out-of-the-way the side roads.

Well, that basically describes my experience traveling between Dubai and Doha in December.

The 235-mile journey should’ve been a straight shot between two of the world’s largest aviation hubs. Yet, it took me over eight hours on two flights to get between the countries.

Sign up for our daily newsletter
Distance between Dubai and Doha (Map courtesy of GCMap.com)

Between the geopolitical spat that dates back to June 2017 and the pandemic, flying between the United Arab Emirates and Qatar felt like one of the worst commutes I’ve ever had.

Stay up-to-date on airline and aviation news by signing up for our brand-new aviation newsletter.

When the two countries severed ties over three years ago, direct flights were cut as well. Only a handful of Arab countries maintain ties with both the UAE and Qatar — and fly to both countries. During my trip, the shortest one-stop itineraries included layovers in Jordan, Kuwait or Oman.

Three possible connecting flights (Map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper)

Of course, Kuwait or Oman are located significantly closer to my origin and destination and would’ve been my preferred transit points for the journey. But, we’re living in 2021 and the pandemic has shut borders worldwide.

Due to the coronavirus, Kuwait and Oman weren’t accepting transit passengers with U.S. passports in December 2020. (Rules change all the time, so I’d recommend using the IATA travel regulations maps to research entry and transit rules.)

As such, I was left with Amman as the fastest possible connecting point to get between the two cities.

Flying to Jordan represented significant backtracking, but it was the best I could do given the situation. My fellow flyers clearly felt the same way— at least ten other Amman-bound passengers also connected onwards to Doha.

While my Royal Jordanian flight from Dubai to Amman flew in a straight line between the cities, my Qatar Airways connection required another detour, as if flying through Amman to get to Doha wasn’t long enough.

It’s not just the UAE that has severed ties with Qatar. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and others did too. As part of the rift, Qatari-registered planes can’t overfly the airspace of these neighbors while they remain at odds.

Flying between Amman and Doha as the crow flies requires a significant amount of time flying above Saudi Arabia. That was off-limits for my Qatar Airways flight, so we instead detoured over Iraq, adding more time to my already long journey.

And fortunately, the end may be near. On Monday, it was reported that Saudi Arabia would reopen its air and land borders to Qatar, allowing Qatar-registered planes to fly over its airspace. There's no word yet on whether the UAE will re-establish ties with Qatar — though a Reuters report indicated it would follow Saudi Arabia's lead. Until that changes, however, you'll be forced to fly a one-stop itinerary between Dubai and Doha.

As the crow flies between Amman and Dubai, Doha (Map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper)
The circuitous route we flew from Amman to Doha (Map courtesy of FlightRadar24 and Google)

Before June 2017, getting between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates was simple and possibly quite luxurious.

Cirium schedules show that the Gulf Big 3 — Emirates, Etihad and Qatar — as well as Air Arabia and FlyDubai together flew 98 flights a day between the two countries in May 2017, one month before ties were severed.

The flights were blocked at just an hour and 10 minutes, though the actual flying time was often much shorter. Plus, Emirates flew its 777s featuring a posh business-class cabin, while Qatar flew a mixture of wide-body planes, with most featuring lie-flat biz.

In my case, the Royal Jordanian flight to Amman was operated by an Airbus A320 in a tight 3-3 coach configuration. Flyers weren't great about mask compliance, and the plane itself wasn't so clean.

An empty Qatar Airways connecting flight (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The Qatar Airways connection was a lot better. The forward coach cabin had just four other passengers, which made social distancing quite easy. Plus, Qatar offers Wi-Fi, seat-back entertainment, power and a full meal, even on the sub-three hour short-haul flight.

Nonetheless, the 235-mile journey between Dubai and Doha felt more like an inconvenient trek than a short hop. In this highly interconnected world, getting between these two major aviation hubs required more pre-travel research than a long-haul flight between New York and Paris.

The end is likely near, though. With Saudi Arabia reopening its borders to Qatar, the regional crisis will likely soon become history. Only time will tell what happens next, but passengers may not need to be inconvenienced for too much longer.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees