Sunday, February 5, 2023

Fans buy alcohol from hotels and stores in Qatar

DOHA ( Associated Press) – In a dusty neighborhood on the outskirts of Qatar’s capital, guards guard the entrance to a gated compound with concertina lines. They enthusiastically check passports and licenses before letting anyone in.

This is not a prison or high security zone related to the World Cup.

This is a liquor store.

Severe restrictions on alcohol consumption are part of daily life in this conservative Muslim nation on the Arabian Peninsula, which shares the same strict interpretation of Islam, known as Wahhabism, with its neighbor Saudi Arabia.

Football fans who came to Qatar for the World Cup got a taste of this severity just before the tournament, when the authorities banned the sale of beer in stadiums.

However, the uncorking of bottles in luxury boxes continues during matches. Fans fill their beer glasses at dozens of hotel bars, lounges and nightclubs with liquor licenses.

Sales of Budweiser beer at $14 per beer continue unabated at the FIFA Fan Zone in Doha.

“I don’t want to say you need alcohol to fuel your life, but this is a great time to do it,” said Ed Ball, an American who has created an online website for people looking to find bars in Doha. Made a map. “The idea that it circulates, that you can’t drink in Qatar, is wrong. There are places”.

In addition to the bar, there is a liquor store where non-Muslim residents and visitors can visit after applying for a license issued by the government. Located next to an Indian school in the Abu Hamour neighborhood, the store is operated by Qatar Distribution Company, a state-owned company under the corporate umbrella of Qatar Airways, which has exclusive rights to distribute wine and pork in the country.

The liquor store – currently the only one in the country – operates under an appointment system, adhering to strict rules imposed during the pandemic just before the World Cup.

During a recent visit, the identity and credentials of an Associated Press reporter who visited the facility were double-checked. The concertina of blades crowns the complex’s high walls, which block views from the outside.

Signs warn that any disrespect to the guards can lead to the cancellation of a license to buy liquor. Several silver barrels of beer are kept in the parking lot.

At the end of an aisle where the smell of chlorine pervades, consumers approach the store’s entrance. Inside, there are shelves and stalls with bottles of wine, ranging in price from $12.50 to $45.

A liter of Absolut vodka costs $42, while a liter of Jack Daniels whiskey costs $70. A 24-pack of regular Budweiser costs about $52.

A small section of the store offers frozen pork pepperoni pizza, slices of bacon, as well as canned pork.

Many consumers loaded their carts or carried bottles and cans in their hands. Others were checking their shopping lists or messaging family and friends about what was needed.

Many wore their FIFA recognition around their necks for the tournament.

Outside the establishment, a 31-year-old British teacher working in Qatar was filling the trunk of her car. He declined to give his name given the meaning of alcohol consumption in Qatari society, but dismissed criticism about alcohol consumption at the tournament.

“It’s not really a big deal,” he said of Qatar’s alcohol licensing system. “It’s like going to the supermarket to buy wine.”

With regard to the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at matches, they seemed sensible to him.

“I’m British so I know what it’s like to be around drunk people all the time.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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