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Mon 6 Feb 2012 09:56 AM

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Qatar cooks up a storm over pork sales

Sales of pork produces by a Doha store last year has proved popular with expatriate residents

Qatar cooks up a storm over pork sales
The Pearl-Qatar island is a popular expatriate and tourist spot

The decision by Doha’s only off-licence to start selling pork products in December has resulted in online controversy, with expatriates and locals split on the surprise move by the retailer.

Accessible only to non-Muslims with an alcohol licence, the QDC store in Doha began selling packets of sausages and bacon from QR28 ($7.6) in the run up to Christmas. The move was welcomed by many pork-loving expatriate workers, with stocks reportedly selling out in a matter of hours.

“It’s very good news,” one resident told the Qatar Living website, while another hoped this would be the start of a wider roll out of pork products to other outlets across the city.

“Good move! But still hope that Qatar someday will follow the same as in DUBAI & OMAN where there are NON-MUSLIM section in SPINNEYS & AL-FAIR respectively in which pork products are available,” another reader commented.

While there were reports QDC may increase its supplies in the wake of the popularity of the produce, or even open a second store, some observers have said the ban on pork products should be reinstated.

“They should not sell it. It only appeals to some expatriates in Qatar, albeit a tiny percentage of them, and like any country in the world it is reasonable enough to expect some degree of respect for the local laws and norms. Qatar is a pretty liberal place any ways, and the people who do eat pork, will not be giving up too much in other ways by not eating it,” one commentator said.

The move has been condemned by others who see it as a step too far and an insult to the local Muslim population. “What’s next? legalization of abortion in Qatar??” said one outraged reader, while another online opponent of the move has set up a ‘Stop Pork in Qatar’ online group.

The only other venue pork is available to buy in Qatar is the American Military Base, but this is only available to American military personnel.

The backlash against the sale of pork comes as it was revealed restaurants and bars on Qatar’s flagship Pearl development have seen revenues slump by more than 50 percent in the wake of a new ruling banning the sale of alcohol to customers.

Outlets on the manmade island off the coast of Doha were told on Dec 12 they could no longer serve booze to guests in what is seen as a display of tension between Qatar’s Muslim culture and its largely expatriate population.

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

“Every restaurant on the Pearl is banned [from selling alcohol],” said Sumeet Jhingan, country manager for Foodmark, the hospitality arm of retail giant Landmark Group. “We don’t know if it is indefinite, there was nothing in writing or communicated to us as to how long it is going to last.”

Qatar has shot to fame in recent years, thanks in part to an ambitious investment strategy that saw it snap up trophy assets such as Harrods, and stakes in Barclays, J Sainsbury’s and the London Stock Exchange.

The wealthy Gulf emirate in 2010 won the rights to host the 2022 World Cup, the first Arab country to do so. Doha has pledged to spend some $88bn on infrastructure and hotels over the next decade as it gears up to hold the world’s most-watched sporting event.

But the country’s rapid modernisation has raised fears among the local population that Qatar’s national identity could be diluted by the influx of expatriates and foreign investment.

Qatar Airways, Doha’s flag carrier, is currently the subject of a Twitter campaign that calls, in part, for a ban on serving alcohol on its flights in line with Islamic values.



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Jake 8 years ago

Hilarious! Looks like people don't really have any serious issues to care about.

But I know, I know, every country can make its own rules and if we don't like it we can leave...

andy 8 years ago

while halal meat products are available worldwide in non-muslim countries to cater to muslim requirements...

So why reciprocate and cater to non-muslims in Qatar??

I personally do not agree with halal slaughter so I only eat pork in the UAE for this reason (knowing its stunned and slaughtered) this is a personal choice as there is no alternative for me other than being vegetarian

T Obaid 8 years ago

It is amazing how people in the Gulf behave like spoilt kids who crave being offended.
This narrow minded world view is not how people of different cultures and religions live in harmony - it can only cause divisions and conflict

Mark 8 years ago

Next they will want to ban Harrods from selling pork or alcohol !!! Wonder how this is all going to work out with the Word Cup, no booze= no soccer , seems to to be the position of FIFA so far.

If you want to be part of a bigger place in the world - then you may have to accept someone elses's rules. You need to lighten up -no one is insulting anyone, it is just other people have different cultures and religons. It is all part of the right of having free will and a free choice as an individual, but with the obligation of not impacting on the rights of others.

Angela 8 years ago

Harrods owned by Qatar's ruling family sell pork and booze. Qatar Airways serves booze! How many of the people saying no to alchol fly Qatar Airways and shop in Harrods

langyaw 8 years ago

LOL. a truly spiritual person can rein in his appetites, even desires. I don't think those stores force the pork on the tables of anyone, do they? and what are they going to do with the female expat population who continue to wear "tempting" clothing, who has a greater potential of defiling one's spirituality?

keenobzerver 8 years ago

I agree that pork should be sold accross the GCC, in a separate area, with no risk of touching or being near other meat products or using the same utensils, knives etc.

As for Halal food being sold throughout the world, there were numerous atempts to limit this in Europe, but were unsuccessful, fearful of jews due to similarity of halal & Kosher meat.

Being vegetarian, eating pigs, or slaughtered animals is a personal choice, and everyone should be free to choose.

Ayman 8 years ago

Stunned and slaughtered? Where are you getting your info from? Please educate yourself before posting false comments ...

Mansoor Alali 8 years ago

Please don't use the "So why reciprocate and cater to non-muslims in Qatar"

you mean like banning head scarfs and face covers in certain European countries, and Middle East countries can reciprocate and ban short skirts and sleeveless tops, and force all of you "expats" to wear a Abaya and a dishdasha. Maybe then you will stop arguing about what is allowed and whats not.

dino100 8 years ago

The UAE and Oman flourish with expatriates and locals blending to create a harmonious environment. Most supermarkets have clearly marked pork sections which are essentially cut off from the rest of the store. This seems to work fine. The rest of the world accepts religions, cultural idioms and yet Qatar reacts to this and to alcohol in a way that is positively un-modern