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Wed 9 Jan 2013 10:57 AM

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Pearl-Qatar alcohol ban won't last - Gordon Ramsay

UK celebrity chef closed Maze restaurant after slump in sales following alcohol ban

Pearl-Qatar alcohol ban won't last - Gordon Ramsay
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

UK celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has hit out at an alcohol ban introduced on the Pearl-Qatar in 2011 which led to the closing of his restaurant at the development, and said he does not see the legislation “lasting much longer”, it was reported.

Ramsay closed down his Maze Doha restaurant in March 2012 after just two years of operation, while many restaurateurs operating on the Pearl-Qatar development said they had seen revenues decline by as much as 50 percent in the six months immediately after the alcohol ban was introduced in December 2011.

“I think the legislation in terms of operating restraints - going out for dinner and not being allowed to have a glass of wine - I think it’s one turn-off for any local,” he was quoted as saying by Doha News, while on a visit to the city to open two new restaurants at the St Regis Hotel.

“We had to make sensible commercial decisions - you’re not going to run that restaurant and look stupid and lose thousands on a weekly basis.”

“When we look at the legislation with the alcohol ban, I’d much rather see a smoking ban than an alcohol ban,” the three Michelin starred chef added.

Several international firms have scrapped plans to open new restaurants in the wake of the ban. US-based Ruth’s Chris Steak House said in June it was about to sign a deal for the Pearl-Qatar, but pulled out at the last minute when the ban was imposed.

“In Qatar we are suffering – business has dropped almost 45 percent and unfortunately there is no indication about the ban being lifted. It is very unfortunate for us and for the entire Pearl [project],” Raffaele Ruggeri, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Italian chain of restaurants, Bice, said last summer.

While Ramsay said western restaurants must “respect the culture” he said change was likely to happen in the coming years as the Gulf state gears up to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“If that’s their culture and it’s being governed by the ministers then, I’m sure that will be out for scrutiny and change. But the world is moving fast and once the World Cup is nearing I’m sure things will change. I can’t see that legislation lasting much longer.”

Hospitality analyst Guy Wilkinson warned in June 2012 that “restaurants that cannot easily adapt their menus and concepts to a clientele that appreciates a purely dry offer will only be able to survive a few months more. I feel sure that other restaurants will follow suit [and close down].”

The avenger 7 years ago

One of the most ridiculous things ever to come out of Qatar and all to do with money not culture .
The cultural bandwagon jumpers use it as an excuse but it's just a pure business fact . The Pearl or F&B outlets on the The Pearl will not survive unless the ban is lifted .

There's only so many Lebanese places that can operate and Guy Savoy has just opened under the dry banner but that venture no doubt will be heavily subsidised from above to make an impression that this can work , the truth is long term it won't and it can't.

If you want Western high end F&B then you need to let the business do the required plan to suit .

750,000 people will rick through the doors in the summer of 2022 and they'll not be wanting high end Fiji mineral water and a Fatoush salad .

Qatari 7 years ago

Are you against the choice of the people, same people whom your family is living on the salary that they offer, which no other country would give ? I wonder what's your opinion about the Niqab ban in France.

Hisham 7 years ago

Qatar is showing that the culture and religion of the country go before satisfying Westerners who seem not to understand that different people live different lifestyles. This is once again a case where Ramsey, a Westerner, views his culture as the culture that should be imposed on all nations worldwide, as in his narrow mind and in many Westerners' narrow minds, their culture is somehow superior. Go and try to make money in your own country if you insist on having wine with your dinner. Oh, I forgot, your country's broke! Sorry for that, but here you just go by the rules that exist, and here you let go of that colonist mentality where you come somewhere and the country has to somehow serve and satisfy you.

Rashid 7 years ago

There are more important things to focus on than banning drinks in restaurant. Drinking is a personal choice. if you want a drink then go for it, if not then you're not forced. Are you that weak in your beliefs that you have to hide it otherwise you'll just drink it??? Do you drink when you travel? do you sit next to someone drinking on a plane? Do you go to restaurants that sell drinks in London, cause most of them do?? if so, then you're a hypocrite. Get rid of this stupid ban. Why spend Billions on Western Education if you're not looking to accept people the way they are? if you want everyone to follow your beliefs? if you want it your way or the high way? Qatar, stop contradicting yourself so much, decisions like that make you look so medieval times.

Qatari 7 years ago

Well said Hisham.

Anjum 7 years ago

Very good decision by Qatar and they should stick to it.

After drinking this so called educated peoples are becoming animals and killing so many peoples in road accident.

Please provide any 10 benefits of Drinking Alcohol. Is any body there to answer this question?

We can easily put 10 disadvantage :

It is just waste of time and money.
Family gets disturb.
Health problem
Brain stops working properly.
Easy way to shorten the life.
No respect from family and friends.
Haraam in Islam and no religion permits drinking alcohol
Promotes evil
many more..........

Western Education did not teach us to drink alcohol

FormerExpat 7 years ago make it sound like the Qatari general population is supporting expats as a form of charity. Get real. The expats are providing a valuable service that obviously the local population was unable to offer.

Also, there are plenty of other options around the world for qualified people, which is the primary reason that it's mostly third rate professionals who couldn't make it in Western markets that are sitting in the Middle East now.

I used to work in the region and was shocked by the poor quality of the professionals working there. I only lasted a couple of years before deciding that I deserved better, and returning to a developed market.

FormerExpat 7 years ago

That is nonsense. If Qatar was truly committed to culture and religion, they would ban alcohol entirely. This is nothing but yet another example of the hypocrisy and double standards that plague the entire region.

And as for Western countries being "broke", I would advise you to educate yourself a bit more before posting on these forums. I refer you to this ranking of countries by GDP ( which shows Qatar at #51, behind economic powerhouses like Peru, Greece and Chile. Still feeling rich?

Qatari 7 years ago

FormerExpat, per capita, yes we do feel rich.

Angelika Lancsak 7 years ago

Way too much fuss about stupid alcohol:-)