World Cup fans find liquor at hotel, Qatar’s one liquor store


DOHA, Qatar (AP) — In a dusty neighborhood on the outskirts of Qatar’s capital, security guards work inside gated compound surrounded by razor wire, carefully checking passports and permits. Since then, no one has been allowed inside. But this is neither a prison nor a high security area associated with ongoing crime. World Cup.

It’s a liquor store.

Strict restrictions on alcohol are a reality in this conservative Muslim nation on the Arabian Peninsula, which follows the same strict Wahhabist interpretation of Islam as neighboring Saudi Arabia. Soccer fans coming to Qatar for the World Cup tasted it just before the tournament. Authorities canceled beer sales at stadiums.

But the cork continues to be packed into the game’s fancy box. Fans pour licensed pints from beer towers in dozens of hotel bars, lounges and nightclubs. His FIFA fans in Doha his $14 Budweiser sales in his zone continue unabated.

“It’s not that you need alcohol to fuel your life, but now is a good time,” said Ed Ball, an American who created an online map for Doha drinkers to find bars. . “The idea that you cannot drink alcohol in Qatar is wrong.

In addition to bars, there is a liquor store where non-Muslim residents and visitors can shop after applying for a government-issued license.It is located next to an Indian school in Doha’s dusty Abu Hamour district. , operated by Qatar Distribution Company, a state-owned company owned by Qatar Airways, which holds exclusive rights to sell alcohol and pork in Qatar.

Currently the only outlet selling alcohol in Qatar, the shop operates by appointment only and is a reminder of the strict coronavirus restrictions that ruled the country just before the World Cup.

During a recent visit, security twice verified the AP reporter’s identity and schedule. A razor wire sits atop the high walls of the compound, preventing members of the public from peeking inside. Empty silver barrels of beer are piled up in the parking lot.

Passing through corridors that smell of chlorine, customers reach the entrance of the store. Inside, shelves and stands are lined with mostly he bottles of wine ranging from $12.50 to $45. Absolut Vodka is $42 a liter and Jack Daniels Whiskey is $70 a liter. His 24-pack of standard Budweiser cans cost about $52.

A small section of the store offers frozen pork pepperoni pizza, slabs of bacon, spam, and canned pork and beans.

Customers filled carts, held bottles and cans, checked shopping lists, and emailed family members to double-check what they needed. Some wore tournament FIFA passes around their necks.

Outside the store, a 31-year-old British woman who works as a school teacher in Qatar filled the trunk of her car. She declined to give her name, given the implications of drinking in Qatari society, but dismissed her criticism of her drinking and the tournament.

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

She added that she thinks the match sales limit makes sense, too.

Wide swaths of the Persian Gulf continue to ban alcohol in Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s Sharjah Emirate. Drinking alcohol is considered haram or forbidden in IslamThe Imam points to a passage from the Qur’an that calls wine “the work of the devil.”

But the region as a whole has a long history of alcohol, which is Arabic. The 8th-century poet Abu Nawas was even known for ‘Kamryat’ or ‘Wine Poetry’.

Both alcohol and pork face 100% import tariffs. Qatar has said it will use tax revenues to improve health care, infrastructure, education and other public services.

Visitors are not allowed to bring alcohol into the country. Many hotels are dry and prohibit guests from bringing alcohol into their rooms.

balls Our online map of Qatar bars has been viewed over 875,000 times. An accompanying Twitter account shows him Down 2 pints of beer in 10 seconds.

“For me, drinking is the same as eating. It’s just in line with the culture,” Ball told the AP after returning home to Seattle. He works there for Boeing. One of the biggest sponsors he has is Budweiser, so it shows that it goes hand in hand. “

Bars in Qatar typically scan the IDs of people entering, and many bars are working on voucher systems during tournaments to ensure fans spend at least a certain amount.

On Saturday night, a group of Russians yelled profanity at the US team at Doha’s Irish Harp, dropping shots and taking pictures with servers during a match against the Netherlands.

Dermot O’Callaghan, a 66-year-old football fan from Dublin, Ireland, has been enjoying a calm drink at a bar, rocking to Cuban band Chicas Melao.

“It’s a lot of fun. You can even have a drink here at night,” said O’Callaghan. “We have a cohort of fans walking around for drinks.”

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.