Qatar World Cup: Will Soccer Fans Be Able To Drink Alcohol?

  • Dan Fogarty

When FIFA announced that the 2022 World Cup would be held in the tiny Middle Eastern country of Qatar, a resounding “Whazah?” reverberated throughout the world.

For one, Qatar is extremely hot in the summertime (like, 108 degrees hot). Also, the country’s laws seem to have it out for general public boisterousness, which is a staple of any good World Cup. According to the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs, “incidents involving insults or obscene language/gestures often result in arrest, overnight imprisonment, and/or fines.”

So what about drinking? Qatar is a Muslim country, and although their laws are considerably more liberal than other parts of the Middle East, under Qatar’s Sharia it is illegal to show alcohol or be drunk in public. Which is a problem, because fans at the Word Cup like to be drunk in public.

Furthermore, there is only one liquor store in the entire country (yes, 2022 is going to be a good year for the Qatar Distribution Centre), and you need a permit to purchase anything there.

From WikiTravel:

To purchase [alcohol], you must have a license that can only be obtained by having a written letter of permission from your employer. You can only get a license when you have obtained your residency permit and you will need to get a letter from your employer confirming your salary in addition to paying a deposit for QR1000 (Ed. note: QR1000 = 274.73 U.S. dollars).

So, what’s a drunken soccer hooligan to do? Well, you could buy drinks at any number of Western hotels in Qatar. But the prices, already high, are expected to be exorbitant by the time the world’s biggest sporting event comes to town.

You could, conceivably, get the necessary documentation to buy alcohol from Qatar’s lone liquor store (Qatar Distribution is right by the airport). It’s certainly a better alternative to the hotel, and definitely better than trying to smuggle it into the country (they will x-ray your bags, confiscate your hooch, and you will almost certainly be sent to jail).

Your best bet if you’d like to drink at the 2022 World Cup? Wait, and hope. Provided FIFA has any kind of foresight at all (which is questionable, considering the very public and very idiotic comments their president recently made), they’ve gotten promises from Qatar that concessions will be made regarding alcohol laws. Whether it’s a four month lifting of the permit law, or a general promise from Qatari law enforcement to look the other way when this happens, expect something to be done between now and 2022.

[World Cup 2022: The Drinking Guide to Qatar]
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