Saturday, March 25, 2023

FIFA World Cup followers discover booze at inns, Qatar’s lone liquor retailer

In a dusty neighbourhood on the outskirts of Qatar’s capital, guards stand obligation at a gated compound ringed with razor wire, fastidiously checking passports and permits earlier than permitting anybody inside. However this isn’t a jail or a high-security space related to the continuing FIFA World Cup.

It’s the liquor retailer.

Inflexible limits on alcohol are a reality of life on this conservative Muslim nation on the Arabian Peninsula, which follows the identical strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam as its neighbour Saudi Arabia. Soccer followers coming to Qatar for the World Cup bought a style of that simply earlier than the event as authorities cancelled beer gross sales at stadiums.

Soccer followers coming to Qatar for the World Cup had been in for a disappointment as authorities cancelled beer gross sales at stadiums.
| Picture Credit score: GETTY IMAGES

But corks proceed to be popped in luxurious packing containers at video games. Followers are filling pints from beer towers at dozens of lodge bars, lounges and nightclubs with liquor licenses. Gross sales of $14 Budweisers at Doha’s FIFA Fan Zone proceed unabated.

“Not to say that you need alcohol to fuel your life, but it’s a good time,” stated Ed Ball, an American who created a web based map for imbibers in Doha to seek out bars.

“The idea being passed around that you can’t drink in Qatar is wrong. There are places.”

Appointment system on the liquor retailer

Along with the bars, there’s the liquor retailer the place non-Muslim residents and guests can store after making use of for a government-issued license. Positioned subsequent to an Indian faculty in Doha’s dusty Abu Hamour neighborhood, it’s run by the Qatar Distribution Co., a state-owned enterprise below the umbrella of Qatar Airways, which holds unique rights to distribute alcohol and pork within the nation.

The shop — at the moment the one one promoting liquor in Qatar — operates on an appointment system, harkening again to the strict coronavirus rules that ruled this nation prior to simply earlier than the World Cup.

On a latest go to, guards twice checked an Related Press reporter’s identifications and appointments. Razor wire tops the compound’s excessive partitions, which bar the general public from a peek inside. Indicators warn that any abuse aimed on the guards can lead to an alcohol license being revoked. Empty silver-coloured beer kegs are piled up within the parking zone.

On the finish of a chlorine-scented walkway, prospects attain the doorway to the shop. Inside, the cabinets and stands are stocked with bottles of wine largely working from $12.50 as much as $45. A liter of Absolut vodka goes for $42, whereas a liter of Jack Daniels whiskey units a client again $70. A 24-pack of ordinary Budweiser cans prices practically $52.

A small part of the shop presents frozen pork pepperoni pizzas, slabs of bacon, Spam and cans of pork and beans.

Prospects stuffed their carts or carried bottles and cans of their fingers, checking in opposition to procuring lists or texting members of the family to double verify what was wanted. A number of wore FIFA passes for the event round their necks.

No alcohol, no large deal!

Exterior the store, a 31-year-old British lady who works as a college instructor in Qatar, stuffed the trunk of her automotive. She declined to supply her identify, given the connotations consuming can carry in Qatari society, however dismissed criticism surrounding consuming and the event.

“It’s really not that big of a deal,” she stated of the licensing system in Qatar. “It’s like going to the supermarket — for alcohol.”

She added that she thought the restrictions on gross sales for the matches additionally made sense. “I’m British. I know what it’s like to to be around drunk people all the time.”

Drinking alcohol is considered haram, or forbidden, in Islam. Imams point to a verse in the Quran calling wine “the work of Satan”. 

Consuming alcohol is taken into account haram, or forbidden, in Islam. Imams level to a verse within the Quran calling wine “the work of Satan”. 
| Picture Credit score: GETTY IMAGES

Throughout the broader Persian Gulf, alcohol stays banned in Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the sheikhdom of Sharjah within the United Arab Emirates. Consuming alcohol is taken into account haram, or forbidden, in Islam. Imams level to a verse within the Quran calling wine “the work of Satan”.

However the area as a complete has an extended historical past with alcohol, itself an Arabic phrase. The eighth century poet Abu Nawas even was recognized for his “khamriyyat”, or “wine poems”.

Each alcohol and pork face a 100% import obligation. Qatar says it makes use of the tax income to enhance well being care, infrastructure, training and different public providers.

Guests are usually not allowed to convey alcohol into the nation. Many inns are dry and prohibit visitors from bringing alcohol to their rooms.

Qatar sees progress in alcohol gross sales

Even with these restrictions, Qatar offered 23.2 million liters of alcoholic drinks in 2021, in accordance with information from Euromonitor Worldwide. Although dwarfed by the United Arab Emirates’ 115 million liters offered in the identical interval, Qatar’s numbers present a 14.6% progress because the pandemic waned.

In the meantime, Ball’s on-line map of bars in Qatar has been considered over 875,000 occasions. An accompanying Twitter account exhibits him downing two pints of beer in 10 seconds.

“For me, drinking is just like eating. It just goes along with the culture,” Ball advised the AP after returning house to Seattle, the place he works for Boeing Co.

“I know it’s not part of Qatar … but it’s also part of the World Cup. One of the biggest sponsors is Budweiser so it just goes to show you it kind of goes hand in hand.”

Beer stands are seen outside a stadium ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Beer stands are seen exterior a stadium forward of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
| Picture Credit score: GETTY IMAGES

Bars in Qatar usually scan IDs of these heading in, with many engaged on a voucher system through the event to verify followers spend not less than specific amount.

On Saturday night time, a bunch of Russians screamed expletives on the US crew throughout its match with the Netherlands as they downed photographs and posed for images with servers at Doha’s Irish Harp.

Dermot O’Callaghan, a 66-year-old soccer fan from Dublin, Eire, loved a a lot calmer pint on the bar, swaying alongside to the Cuban band Chicas Melao.

“It’s very enjoyable, you can get a drink here if you want in the evenings,” O’Callaghan stated. “You do have a cohort of fans roaming around, looking for a drink.”

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