Qatar, a conservative Muslim country allows access to alcohol and pork to non-Muslims, though both products are considered haram, or unlawful, in Islam. Qatar Distribution Company is the sole licensed retail outlet in Qatar responsible for selling alcohol. QDC license is required for purchasing alcohol and only non-Muslims are mandated to buy and drink alcohol in the country.
Law in action
Although consuming alcohol in Qatar is allowed but it should neither create public nuisance nor draw unwanted attention. Drinking in public, public intoxication, and drunk driving can result in severe fines and a harsh prison sentence. Qatar adheres to a “zero tolerance” policy in regards to alcohol consumption while driving.
According to Article 270, Law No. 11 of 2004, ”whoever drinks any alcoholic beverage in a public place or opens a store or a house to trade in alcohol shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months and/or a fine not exceeding three thousand Qatari Riyals (QR 3.000)’’.
Article 271 clearly states that drinking under sixteen years of age is not allowed in the country.
Whoever gives a person under sixteen years of age an alcoholic beverage or incites him to drink alcohol Imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and/or a fine not exceeding ten thousand Qatari Riyals (QR 10.000).
Anyone found in the situation of drunkenness on common road or anyone who caused problems by his drinking, as the Article 271 of the same law refers that he shall be punished by imprisonment not exceeding three years and a fine of not more than ten thousand Riyals, or one of them. Anyone who presented wine or intoxicating drink to a person less than sixteen years of age, or incited him to drink shall be punished by imprisonment of a period not more than three years and a fine not exceeding ten thousand Riyals. Anyone who imported or exported or made or extracted or attended a wine or intoxicating drink shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not more than three years and a fine of not more than ten thousand Riyals, or one of them, as anyone who sold or purchased or delivered or received or transferred or acquired or made wine or intoxicating drink or treated or worked as a broker in them in any way for trade or promotion.
Qatar has a zero tolerance attitude to driving under the influence of alcohol. Drink driving offenders are punished by custodial sentences ranging from one month to three years, a fine or both. Those caught drink driving may also be deported. People should be aware that it if a police file is opened against them for a drinking or driving related offence, then they are not allowed to leave the country until the case has been resolved. Most cases are straightforward, but more serious offences can take six months to go to court.
• It is illegal to import alcohol into the country. All luggage is scanned at the arrivals hall of Doha airport
• It is an offence to drink alcohol or to be drunk in a public place. People breaking this law can be deported, fined or receive prison sentences. Muslims caught drinking may be subjected to corporal punishment
• Alcohol should not be transported within the country, except to take it home from the warehouse on the day of collection
• It is an offence to offer alcohol to Muslims and minors
• It is illegal to sell, donate or give away alcohol
Expatriates living in Qatar can buy alcohol via a permit system. It is also available in licenced restaurants and hotels which may sell alcohol to adult, non-Muslim customers in restricted areas.
As Qatar is gearing up for FIFA2022 , Hassan al-Thawadi, general secretary of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee made it clear that selling alcohol in stadiums will not be allowed but can be sold during the tournament, according to an Associated Press report. Qatar is also considering special World Cup courts to deal “very gently” with fans breaking rules on public consumption of alcohol, according to the chief executive of the 2022 organising committee. In starting this year, Hassan al-Thawadi told Reuters , “I know in South Africa there where specific courts established during the World Cup for this kind of thing, and that is something we were discussing with Fifa.
Applying for an Alcohol Permit
Alcohol permits are administered by the Qatar Distribution Company and application forms can be obtained at their shop. A permit must be shown to enter the shop. A letter, written in English, is needed to apply for an alcohol permit. If the letter is written in Arabic it is usually accepted if it is accompanied by a stamped translation. The letter must be addressed to the Qatar Distribution Company, be stamped and signed by an authorised person within the company, and include the following information:
• The applicant's position within their company
• The applicant's basic salary must be above 10,000 QR.
• Whether the applicant receives an accommodation entitlement or has free accommodation
• Whether the applicant is married
• When applying for a permit an individual must fill in an application form, pay a returnable deposit and state their religion
The following additional documents are also required:
• A passport, or equivalent identification (a photocopy is acceptable)
• A residence permit (a photocopy is acceptable)
The Qatar Distribution Company is the sole importer and retailer of alcohol in the country. They run two shops which are the only places where alcohol can be purchased. They offer a wide range of beverages and a permit is needed to make a purchase. Any alcohol bought must be hidden from view and taken straight home. The amount of alcohol that a person can purchase each month depends on their salary.
Qatar Distribution Company
At: Nr Qatar Technical College, Street 668, Al Maamoura, Doha
Tel: 4469 9412
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