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Sun 10 Nov 2013 10:49 AM

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Qatar in clampdown on alcohol sales in hotel pools and beaches

Some beach parties and events were cancelled as a result of the written notice sent to hotel managers at the weekend

Qatar in clampdown on alcohol sales in hotel pools and beaches
A written notice to five star hotels in Qatar has banned the sale of alcohol in swimming pool areas or on the beach (Image for illustrative purposes only).

Authorities in Qatar issued a written notice to hotel managers at the weekend banning the sale of alcohol in swimming pool areas or on the beach, leading to the last minute cancellation of some beach parties around the capital Doha, it was reported.

The Four Seasons, St. Regis and the Ritz Carlton hotels all cancelled their beach parties at the weekend as a result of the notice, which was issued on Thursday, Doha News confirmed.

Officials have not yet commented on whether the new notice is a new regulation or the reinforcement of an existing rule, the report added.

It is not the first time Qatar has moved to clampdown on the sale of alcohol.

In December 2011 a controversial ban on alcohol at Qatar's manmade Pearl-Qatar development led to the closure of several high profile restaurants.

In January, celebrity UK chef Gordon Ramsay weighed in on the row, which led to the closure of his Maze restaurant in March 2012 after just two years of operation.

“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,” Ramsay was quoted as saying by Doha News.

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.

The move to offer alcohol licenses to outlets and non-Muslims is largely a nod to the region’s expatriate workers, who vastly outnumber the local population. But the decision has been met with criticism from some citizens who oppose the sale of liquor in Muslim countries.

A number of Gulf states have seen conflicts over alcohol regulations in recent years. Pressure groups in Bahrain forced the closure of bars and clubs in the Gulf state’s three-star hotels in 2009, while Oman has chosen to confine the sale of booze to certain hotels and restaurants.

Dubai, widely seen as the Gulf’s most tolerant market, in June 2011 banned standalone bars and restaurants from displaying alcohol behind their bars.

Outlets licensed to serve alcohol but located outside hotels were forced to tint glass doors on fridges, move entire displays and even re-design whole bar areas to comply with the ban.

Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, head of Hotel Advisory, for MENA at Jones Lang LaSalle, said in January 2012 the open sale of alcohol was always a “delicate balance” for Gulf governments.

“Sometimes, local public opinion is heated up on the back of a combination of factors. It is common for authorities in these cases to act swiftly in order to defuse tension and prevent the issue from heating up further and getting out of control,” he said.

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peter 6 years ago

wonder what they will do during 2022 ?

I think a lot of fans will be disappointing if they cant enjoy a match without a beer....

John 6 years ago

They just killed tourism - alcohol and tourism go hand in hand. They attracted these 5 Star Hotel chains because they allowed legal alcohol consumption, now they want to destroy their business? This is one main reason why these hotels never opened in Kuwait. This is another Pearl catastrophe - so long World Cup!

Muslim 6 years ago

A quarter of humanity would disagree with you.

antipak 6 years ago

3 quarters will not ! so either amend your rules or forget the audience

RAH 6 years ago

Balderdash!
Four Seasons is opening in Kuwait. It has already opened in Saudi.
Alcohol is not a deciding factor. It may be to alcoholics but hardly to hotels. Business especially MICE activity is the deciding factor buddy, not a bottle of Johhnie Walker’s ability to showcase itself on a shelf.
Well done to Qatar for their move. It shows the authority’s willing to listen to the will of the people and local culture, customs and religion regardless of what the John’s of this world think.

Zam 6 years ago

Tourism ??? For what ??? let them stay at home if they cant follow the rule of a country !!! when in Rome, do as the Romans do !!

Goodbye 6 years ago

Thanks God I left Qatar paradise…..have fun during the world cup!

Jay 6 years ago

Some rules and regulations would address the issue, but with a lack of transparent policy then unfortunately some will abuse the facility and ruin the empowerment to make a choice for others.
With the costs of living spiralling and lack of lifestyle choices now being compounded, Saudi might become an preferable option for expats as the cost of living is low and salaries 30% higher. Its about finding a balance for cultures to integrate and live in harmony, since it is indeed a multi-cultural society which ensures the operation and development of the countries evolvement and legacy development. If choices become more oppressive then people will ask the question about why they want to live and work here? its to easy to be defensive and say leave! What would happen if everyone did? I fully appreciate and respect the cultural values of Qatar, but I believe it is obviously becoming bias towards the indigenous population. Striking a balance with controls and measures is one of many solutions.

khalid 6 years ago

you can say what you want but the gcc as a whole is shifting towards more regulations in regards of alcohol so don't say this or that about the actions of qatar because in dubai and other places it will one day follow.
as in the alcohol they will sell it, they have to they have no chance and the reason for that its because fifa gets a lot of sponsorship for alcohol companies. for example it is illegal in brazil for stadiums to sell alcohol but fifa fought that law and the government made an exception for the world cup next year.

SA1 6 years ago

People keep bringing the world cup in every Qatar article, as if the country is made only for that.

There are enough population in the region to fill up all the stadium so no need to worry on that. For rest they can watch it on Tele and gulp gallons.