Qatar’s Alcohol Policy is Risky for World Cup Fans
British football fans are used to being allowed to drink beer in stadiums during games, so attendees of the World Cup in Qatar will have to adjust to Doha’s restrictive alcohol policies.
“Alcohol will not be served inside the stadium,” explains Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai and Detained in Doha, “But beer will be available outside the venue 3 hours before matches begin, and for 1 hour after they end.”
Stirling cautions that rules on alcohol are very confusing for most Western visitors in the Gulf, “Most people think that if they follow the rules with regards to purchasing and consuming alcohol, they will be fine. But the most dangerous aspect of the law has to do with intoxication. It is not allowed to be publicly intoxicated in Qatar, and Qatar has no legally prescribed blood-alcohol level to define drunkenness. In terms of the law, anyone who drinks a single beer before or after a match, will be vulnerable to arrest and prosecution the moment they leave the venue.”
Qatar is expected to see more visitors during the World Cup than would otherwise visit the country in 6 months, with overflow expected to pack hotels in neighbouring UAE. “If fans are going to be crossing into the Emirates after a match, they may be closely scrutinised by border authorities, as well as by both Qatari and Emirati police patrols; any hint of alcohol in their blood stream could result in their detention. Both countries generate millions of pounds in revenues from fines for alcohol violations, so it is entirely possible that football fans may be targeted for easy arrests.”