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Sun 22 Jan 2012 12:17 PM

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Heart of Doha says would abide by alcohol ban

Qatar’s QR20bn mega-project says would honour alcohol curbs in hotels, eateries

Heart of Doha says would abide by alcohol ban
The QR20bn mega-project is under construction in downtown Doha

Msheireb Downtown, Qatar’s QR20bn ($5.5bn) mega-project, would
honour any alcohol ban in its planned hotels and restaurants if the Gulf state
widens the suspension of liquor sales outside Pearl-Qatar.

The developer behind the 31-hectare ‘Heart of Doha’ said its
four planned hotels would fall in line with changing alcohol laws, weeks after
Qatar halted sales in outlets on the ‘Pearl’ island.

Luxury resort brand Banyan Tree is to date the only hotel to
have inked a deal with Msheireb Properties, but at least two other operators
are understood to be close to an agreement.

“The decision about whether to ban alcohol or not [will be
in line] with the local law of Qatar,” said Issan Al Mohannadi, CEO of Msheireb
Properties. “[The law] is changing now. The international hotel operators for
the development will just have to comply.”

The multibillion-dollar Msheireb Downtown
project is designed to include at least 900 residential units, four hotels and
a mix of retail and commercial real estate to attract a blend of Qatari residents
and tourists.

The development covers five phases
and is scheduled for completion in 2016.

Msheireb Properties, a subsidiary of
the state-owned Qatar Foundation, said the Gulf emirate’s ruling on alcohol
sales reflected efforts to walk the line between attracting expatriates and
staying true to Qatari culture.

“The way we are trying to build
this project is to root it to our past, respecting the local norms,” said Al

Restaurants and bars in Qatar’s
flagship Pearl development were told in Dec they could no longer serve booze to guests in what was seen as
a display of tension between Qatar’s Muslim culture and its largely expatriate

Outlets on the manmade island,
located off the coast of Doha, told Arabian Business they have since seen
revenues slump by more than 50 percent in the wake of the new ruling.

Managers of restaurants located on
the popular tourist spot reported that they received no explanation for the ban
or any indication on whether it might be lifted in the future.

The sale of alcohol is strictly
monitored in five of the Gulf states with Saudi Arabia operating an outright ban
on the sale and consumption of liquor.

Gas-rich Qatar, which in December won the bid to host the FIFA 2022 World
, currently permits the sale of alcohol in hotels, but retains comparatively
tight rules governing alcohol consumption.

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George Pocorry 7 years ago

Wow. Amazing they got that agreement. I figured they would protest quite a bit.

sonnydubai 7 years ago

Say goodbye to tourists then....

Donald 7 years ago

Saudi Arabia is not the only GCC state to have an outright ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol. Kuwait also does.

Mike55 7 years ago

"The international hotel operators for the development will just have to comply."

Or take their business elsewhere. Brave words when they've only signed up one hotel chain so far.

Paul 7 years ago

Well said Mike - Can Qtar please decise what they want and not constently change their mind - The Pearl is a classic example of a complete reversal in the law when many expats have spent many millions buying their - no wonder Qatar invest in the traditional safe european markets where rules arn't changed on a whim - is the Qatari govt going to offer to buy back any apts / town houses because of the change - and is it any onder why sales t the Pearl are at a complete standstill - if you want to encourage people to invest you CANT suddenly change the rules and give owners and tenant ABSOLUTELY NO WARNING.