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
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
Cup, currently permits the sale of alcohol in hotels, but retains comparatively
tight rules governing alcohol consumption.
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