Everyone loses in Qatar's war on booze

The Gulf state must be more coherent in its alcohol policy, says Daniel Shane

After infamously banning the sale of alcohol on its Pearl-Qatar development two years ago, the Gulf state has been at it again this week, announcing that it would prohibit booze consumption in the swimming pool and beach areas of several swanky hotels.

As a sovereign (and Muslim) country, Qatar is free to make its own rules on alcohol, but the inconsistency over regulations will not help its tourism ambitions.

The suddenness of the 2011 decision at Pearl-Qatar contributed to the closure of several restaurants (including UK chef Gordon Ramsay’s Maze) and Qatari officials are yet to reveal the motivation behind the new ban.

Considering its position as host of the FIFA World Cup 2022, which analysts estimate could draw more than 400,000 visitors to the country, Qatar must be more coherent and transparent in its tourism strategy.

As it stands, the country’s tourism sector is far from thriving. According to the latest official data, average hotel occupancy in Qatar stands at just 57 percent, despite a limited inventory of little over 13,000 rooms.

Qatar must decide: does it want to emulate Dubai as a cosmopolitan destination which can accommodate visitors from a variety of faiths and beliefs, or does it want to be Saudi Arabia?

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on arabianbusiness.com may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: alex

The problem here is that some people who come to Qatar think that they own the country, unfortunately it doesn't work like that.

Posted by: a1traininghub

Qatar has so many problems. Even for me as a westerner Alcohol would not make the top 10 list of problems faced by Qatar.

Posted by: benny

Qatar has so many problems. Even for me as a westerner Alcohol would not make the top 10 list of problems faced by Qatar.

Posted by: Greg

The only problem I can see with Qatar's laws on alcohol, is inconsistency. To not have it, then to allow it, then to ban it again, as at The Pearl, or to allow it, then ban it, then allow it again, as at hotel pool bars recently, makes investors nervous, and could harm the country.
As far as alcohol itself is concerned, I must say that I love living in this country, I've been here 7 years now.. I love the fact that there are no drunks on the streets yelling and vomiting here. You can't go down any street in the UK late at night at the weekend without having people staggering round being sick, or fighting. The fact that alcohol is legal in the west doesn't make it a great thing, it is just accepted. And what is all the fuss about World Cup 2022? Alcohol is banned from a lot of UK football stadiums, precisely for the reason that it inflames aggression. Visitors can drink in their hotels if they want, then travel to the matches. What is the problem here, I really don't understand.

Posted by: Kas

Greg - Qatar will be having alcohol at the World Cup - otherwise there won't be a World Cup in Qatar - simple as. There is no way the FA would allow the millions of dollars worth of sponsorship money fade away from the alcohol companies because the World Cup is being held in Qatar. It will have been one of the prerequisites in the bid that Qatar make allowances for this in order for them to win. Maybe all this changing of minds with their present alcohol laws are to appease the locals in the wake of what is going to happen when the World Cup hits Doha.........

Posted by: SA1

There are far far more people who does not drink booze.

Why is it that Alcohol is so accepted and not drugs? Just another form of intoxication...

We earn for society free of such habits...yes this might not sound well for people who drink...but what makes them different than those who takes drugs? Then why not de-criminalize it too, and many more other crimes when we are at it.

Posted by: Mark Renton

SA1, do you mean far more people in Qatar do not drink alcohol, or far more people in the world? If the latter than I suspect you are incorrect, as there are only about 20 countries in the world where the adult population consumes on average less than a bottle of spirits per annum, and neither India or China is in that group.

The obvious difference between people who drink and people who take drugs is that drugs are illegal in most countries in the world whereas alcohol is legal (albeit with some restrictions) in most countries. In these countries the quality and consistency of alcohol tends to be tightly controlled, the suppliers are legitimate businesses and pay tax. Compare that with drugs, which by definition are produced by criminal gangs, usually without the skills or scruples to produce a safe product. Many experts have been pointing out for years that the "war on drugs" is a failure and that actually some kind of controlled legal supply might produce a better overall result.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Most Discussed