Qatar’s relationship and laws surrounding alcohol have come sharply into focus ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
Saturday afternoons at the football without a plastic pint are inconceivable for a select – well, large – group of fans, but mainstream lad culture and behaviour will have to be altered and curbed for supporters travelling to the Middle East.
Here’s what fans need to know about getting beer out in Qatar.
The following guidance is taken from Gov.uk’s travel advice for visitors of Qatar:
“It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. British nationals have been detained under this law, usually when they have come to the attention of the police on a related matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour. For example, drinking in a public place could result in a prison sentence of up to 6 months and/or a fine up to QAR3,000. Alcohol is available only at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system. Don’t carry alcohol around with you (except to take it on the day of collection from the warehouse to your home). The legal drinking age in Qatar is 21, and establishments serving alcohol will ask for original photo ID upon entry.”
Can you drink alcohol in Qatar?
Yes, you can drink alcohol in Qatar. The country’s legal drinking age is 21, However, the country’s relationship with beer, bourbon and the rest is extremely strict.
People cannot drink alcohol or be drunk in public. There is likely to be some slight relaxation of the rules for the World Cup – a competition insider recently told the Telegraph report that drunken fans are unlikely to be thrown in Qatari prisons for minor infringements.
However, if fans take part in acts involving flares and fireworks or get into fights, they risk fines and the cancellation of their ‘Hayya card’, which gives visitors a permit to enter Qatar and access to stadium.
In normal times, alcohol is only available in some specially licensed premises, like hotels, bars and restaurants. Importation of it is banned and brings a potential death penalty for any offenders.
Will there be alcohol in the stadiums?
There will be alcohol in stadiums at the World Cup in Qatar. Beer will be sold and available for fans three hours before and one hour after kick off but not during the actual game itself.
The FIFA Fan Festival will take place at Al Bidda Park, in the centre of Doha. More information is due to be announced, but it is expected that fans will need to wait until 18:30 local time to drink alcohol in the fan zone. Official partners Budweiser and Coca-Cola will have their products available.
This fan zone will be an alcohol-tolerant area, but supporters are advised not to drink such beverages in other undesignated areas.
Alcohol prices in Qatar
We all love to moan about the price of beer on a night out – if you’ve been gouged £25 for three pints out in London, you’ll know the feeling.
Unfortunately, the World Cup will not be like your local small venue round the corner that sells cans of Tuborg for a quid. Instead, fans will have to fork out almost a tenner for one pint.
Qatar’s going rate averages out at £9.94 for a pint, more than double what you’d expect to pay in the United Kingdom. Your Three Lions supporting Trevors, Kevins and Big Alans will probably all jet off to Burundi afterwards, where a drink can cost as little as 59p.
At least that’s the next holiday sorted.