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Mon 11 Nov 2013 03:57 PM

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Everyone loses in Qatar's war on booze

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

Everyone loses in Qatar's war on booze
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?

Enola Gay 6 years ago

Never ask a Qatari if he wants to be either like Dubai or Saudi , he'll launch into some sovereign argument about rights , religion and culture .

Its not about the booze , it's about those who abuse it and here on the ground everybody knows where the trouble comes from and it's not Western Europeans or non-muslim asian expats.

The Qatari's love expat bashing as it stops certain tribes and families bashing each other .

Ahsan Rauf 6 years ago

The government should have done its homework before bidding for FIFA. They shouldn't be expecting soccer between tribes and the expat labour to watch it.

Unfortunately Qatar is handcuffed due to its conservative populuation. In a way I should not even call them conservative, its there way of living, it suits them and they should live as they like BUT government tried to elevate itself in this region. This is a pure contradiction between the government and it's citizens. The 60% increase in national's salaries was an effort to convince them of the required openess but government did not get it, money can go to some level but then the nature of people can't be bought and changed.

I doubt that FIFA will actually happen in Qatar with the structure they have as of now and if is forced to happen then expect the disgruntled nationals.

Mueen Q.Jayousi 6 years ago

Qatar wants to be neither Dubai nor SA, it will prove to it's neighbors and to the world that a moderate Muslim country can stage world class events on its own premises and wants to set the standards doing so. Isn't all about diversity, and respect? so lets respect their opinions and choices. Finally, who said emulating Dubai or anyone else for that matter is a good thing?

Too Cool For School 6 years ago

Not serving alcohol is not the end of the world for a country like Qatar, Kuwait & KSA never had alcohol and look how cosmopolitan they are!

Jesus Al Mohammed Rama 6 years ago

Well, I am neither an Arab nor a westerner. To me, if its prohibited its best in public interest. After all, Alcohol does hurts human though its promoted safe for human consumption its actually not even in moderate.

Its a very good approach, someone is needed to implement it and so why not Qatar, after all its all in for health of individuals, you save some money as well, less conflicts.

If you look at world figures on Alcohol consumption, we are drinking 5 times more compare to 60s.

Same goes for tobacco. After all, if you still wish to booze, drive to the nearest hell.

prakash 6 years ago

every country obviously has right to make their own rules but if they are as conservative they should not opt for mega events like world cup. As you would be definitely be disappointing many fans who are used to watching matches in a particular fashion (having beer while watching or probably need booze for celebrating in the nights partying)

Saudi Engineer 6 years ago

I prefer to comment on the article, and what the author wrote rather than others' comments.
I strongly disagree with both the title of the article that "everyone loses" and with his question of whether Qatar wants to be UAE or KSA.
Firstly, as a sovereign nation, Qatar is free to do as it wishes. Whether it is their rulers or gov't or their people. No one has the right to tell them what to do with their own country. If westerners or expats or whoever loses by the alcohol ban, so be it. If the state of Qatar made the decision who are we to second guess them? I'm sure they know quite well that they may lose out on tourism with the ban - but it's their choice!
And regarding the totally ignorant question of do they want to be UAE or KSA, there are nearly 200 different countries in the world, each with their own laws, languages, religions, and customs. Qatar can be its own independent country and make its own rules to become a unique member of the world - whatever IT wishes to be.

Johnny Walker 6 years ago

Considering most of the participating countries come from the culture of celebrating a win in a game of football with a glass in hand, the fans I assume would definitely be quite disappointed of that is cut short or controlled...
Emulate Dubai?! That would never happen, and this is from someone who lived both worlds...

ahmed 6 years ago

I hate to burst your bubble, but Kuwait and KSA are not cosmopolitan countries. Further, Kuwait has no tourism industry and KSA only has religious based tourism (hajj). Tourism and alcohol go hand in hand, as well as, at sports events. This policy will affect tourism numbers. I am always surprised when the Kuwaitis and Saudis never get off the bus for the arrivals area in Qatar, but just transit through, I don't know why anyone would want to visit Qatar, it's a sleepy hollow.

Mick 6 years ago

@Too Cool.....
Cosmopolitan????? Seriously? I can't tell if that was made in humour or not.
New York City - Cosmopolitan, Paris - Cosmopolitan, London - Cosmopolitan, Berlin - Cosmopolitan, Tokyo - Cosmopolitan, Melbourne - Cosmopolitan, Milan - Cosmopolitan.....Dubai - absolutely Cosmopolitan......
Riyadh? Jeddah, Kuwait City, Doha????? not even in the same galaxy, my friend. Wikipedia the term cosmopolitan plz and cross reference so you don't make the mistake in conversation again. Maybe by "cosmopolitan" you meant empty dark holes of soulless nothingness.
I'm shocked that Qatar still has claim to the World Cup with every possible scenario against it being held there. Heat, worker abuse, alcohol bans (I have alcohol 1 time every two weeks, maybe more but it is agreed for a world cup, you MUST have no restrictions on just cannot).