World Cup 2022: The Drinking Guide to Qatar

let's be blunt, most of my readers are Americans and we aren't great with geography let's be blunt, most of my readers are Americans and we aren't great with geography
Saham, the cute mascot for the games Saham, the cute mascot for the games

Well, now that the sites for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup have been announced, it is important to get a guide published for one of the big questions that every British, German, Aussie….. well hell, almost every football/soccer fan is asking.

The Islamic religion forbids the consumption of alcohol.  How am I going to be able to get my drunk on at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

man reading a quran

First, let me appear scholarly by stating that the Islamic prohibition on the consumption of alcohol comes from the Quran where, “intoxicants and games of chance” were called “abominations of Satan’s handiwork,” intended to turn people away from God and forget about prayer, and Muslims were ordered to abstain. [Quran 5:90-91] (Quotes from wikipedia) Well, not that scholarly, I guess, since I just looked it up on wikipedia, but whatever.

Back to the point — the Quran prohibits alcohol and gambling?  I’ve been to Vegas a few times and I’m not sure that the obscenely rich Muslims, especially the various princes from the region, got this memo.

Scrolling further down in the article it states: “However, there are no prohibitions on using alcohol for scientific, medical, industrial or automotive use…”  So I am thinking that if your side loses a match, you might be able to get an alcoholic drinking exemption to “medically” deal with your grief.

qatar map in the middle east, location of the 2022 world cup, map of qatar, quatar map

let’s be blunt, most of my readers are Americans and we aren’t great with geography

Aside from that slim possibility, let’s get specific about how to legally buy beer and liquor in Qatar.

Make no mistake, cold beer is going to be a necessity, not only for normal World Cup celebration purposes, but just to deal with the heat.  In addition to being the smallest country to ever host a World Cup, Qatar is going to the be the hottest.  The average summertime temperatures there are 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) and the highs approach 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 Celsuis).  I was in the Middle East in August of 2009.   It’s hot.  It’s Africa hot.

I am going to make more fun of how dumb it is to award the World Cup to a country this small in another post, but let’s get the good news about liquor out of the way first.

There is a place to buy liquor in Qatar.

The bad news?  There is exactly one liquor store in the country.  The good news?  Whoever owns it is going to set the Guinness World Record for “Most alcohol ever sold from one location in a month.”

The only liquor store in Qatar is called Qatar Distribution Centre, in Doha.  Luckily if you are going to the Cup, the location is convenient.  Qatar has exactly one international airport (that certainly won’t be a problem with the incoming spectators for the world’s largest sporting event) and it is in Doha, the capital.  So you can hop off the plane and head right for the liquor store.

Alas, there is a small catch to buying liquor at the one store in the entire country– you need a license to purchase anything.  “To purchase things there, you must have a license that can only be obtained by having a written letter of permission from your employer. You can only get a license when you have obtained your residency permit and you will need to get a letter from your employer confirming your salary in addition to paying a deposit for QR1000 (currently about $275 U.S.).” (from wikitravel on Qatar)

O yea, I forgot to mention that to buy beer and liquor at the store you have to have a resident visa there.  Meaning that tourists can’t buy anything.  Small hurdle.  Don’t worry about that deposit thing — you are going to want the booze enough to pay that if you can get over that tiny non-resident problem.

Here is a forum that I found talking about getting a liquor license in Qatar.  Some highlights, “you could be fined if you are caught transporting the alcohol any where other than straight from the liquor store to your home” and “they determine a monthly amount that you can spend at the store [based on your local income].”

Seriously… Qatar?!!  FIFA couldn’t have awarded the games to Burma?  They’ve got some problems, sure, but I think you can get a beer there without getting arrested.

I am willing to go a long way to get an alcoholic drink, but these hurdles…..

Another side note: public displays of affection between men and women are not only discouraged, but can be a punishable offense.  I didn’t see anything about same-sex affection, so you might be able to hug your friend after your team scores a goal…. if your friend is your gender.

As a bonus, it is illegal to bring any alcoholic beverages into Qatar, though when then confiscate it, they will give you a receipt to pick it up on your way out of the country.  So you got that going for ‘ya, which is nice.

qatar host of asian indoor games, saham the mascot for the asian indoor games in doha qatar

Saham, the cute mascot for those big indoor championships – INDOORS

From talking to friends that have lived and worked in Qatar, you can apparently buy drinks at the western hotels located there.  I am sure that those prices will be completely reasonable during your stay there for the World Cup.  Almost no chances those prices will be jacked through the roof.

As to whether Qatar will allow beer or alcohol sales at the actual event sites, I have not been able to find any information at this time, but Qatar has hosted huge sporting events before — they hosted the 2008 Asian Indoor Athletics Championships.

Special Note — there is no need to do a Drinking Guide to Russia for the 2018 World Cup.  At those venues the rules are simple.  Event organizers will be handing out vodka starting at 10 a.m. every morning and each and every person attending a game is required to get drunk by early afternoon, so they can more fully appreciate the essence of Russian culture.  On the other hand, smiling will be strictly prohibited and punishable with immediate deportation.

So, I think it is fairly safe to assume that these strict restrictions are going to be modified or lifted when the time comes for Qatar to host the World Cup.  They must have made some extensive promises to FIFA (aside from the requisite bribes) about a number of topics that will ensure that there is a good turnout for the games, including mundane ones, like non-Muslim fans having access to a pint.

Given the religious and political climate in the Middle East, I am also sure that there will be no imams, terrorist leaders or other opinion makers in the region that will stoke up anger and resentment towards the “Western imperialists that are defiling a Muslim country by forcing them to sell liquor — and also allowing infidels to get drunk and cause maheam in the holy lands of the Middle East.”

Yea, I’m buying my tickets immediately.  This is going to be a blast.  Literally.

_______________________________________

In case you are planning to move there, so you can buy a beer to celebrate your team’s victories — here is the info on the Qatar Distribution Company:

Opening Hours
Permit Office Sun – Thu 8.00 a.m. – 7.30 p.m.
Sat 10.30 a.m. – 7.30 pm

Shop Sat – Thu 10.30 a.m. – 7.30 p.m

Tel: 44699412/44699413/44687547
Address: PO Box 9483, Doha, Qatar

Directions from the airport:

Drive along C-ring road from the airport. You will come to Ramada junction – traffic light signals with the Ramada hotel on your right. Turn left onto Salwa Road. Drive over the fly-over and along Salwa road. Eventually you will come to a roundabout with a sign pointing towards the wholesale markets.

Take the third exit off the roundabout. Drive along the road (whole market street), going straight ahead at the roundabout by the markets, for several kilometres. Eventually you will come to a building with black railings. Turn left straight after the railings, and just before the Qatar Technical College. Follow the road round and you will come to the Qatar Distribution Company.

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I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all. Read more by Michael Hodson and connect on Google Plus.

53 Responses to “World Cup 2022: The Drinking Guide to Qatar” Subscribe

  1. Phil Paoletta December 2, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

    Michael, This was my first thought when I heard the announcement. This post is great. You clearly busted your tail researching this matter. In fact, this is one of the most useful posts I’ve read on a travel blog in a long time.

    I love how most of the world is in Cancun talking about climate change while Fifa is awarding the 2022 world cup to a country that is going to host all the games in air-conditioned stadiums. Ugh.

    B well,
    Phil
    Phil Paoletta recently posted..3 Fun Strategies to Deal with Hasslers- Hawkers- and Touts

  2. Rachel December 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    Michael, you’ve really out done yourself. Hilarious post – cheers to a great new blog!

  3. Rick December 2, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    Thanks Michael for a hilarious look at a looming dilemma. However, not dismay for perhaps there is a loophole. You stated that the Quran prohibits “intoxicants and games of chance”. If one interprets the word “and” that to mean that the offensive actions prohibited in tandem; then one without the other may be acceptable thereby allowing you to drink at the World Cup as long you do not wager on its outcome… or vise versa.
    Rick recently posted..NUTS Questions – Holiday Parties

    • Michael Hodson December 3, 2010 at 9:02 am #

      ahhhhh, the lawyer in my loves this argument! Given how open-minded the Muslim world is likely to be on the whole topic of Quran interpretation…. I bet that is how it goes! ;)

      • saad February 18, 2011 at 4:10 am #

        i love you and i love your article…

        i am Qatari ..

        if you are planning to come to Qatar just let me know i will take you to everywhere….

        and make sure that you are not ganna live in the hotel but me place …

        • Michael Hodson February 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

          thanks! Much appreciated. I hope to be over there in the next few weeks. I can’t wait.

  4. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World December 2, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    This post is hilarious.
    I was so surprised over the results too: Russia (a country that’s notoriously tourist unfriendly) and Qatar (where the heck is it anyway?)

    Well, at least FIFA got Brazil right.
    Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted..10 Quotable Travel Advices – Weekly Travel Tip

    • Michael Hodson December 3, 2010 at 9:02 am #

      yet another person happy I put the map in, heh? ;)

  5. Amanda December 3, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    Haha, yet another great post! I was a bit baffled when I heard that Russia and Qatar were chosen. I mean, I’m all about “the underdog” getting a chance and all… but really? Qatar? REALLY? This whole alcohol issue is sure going to make things interesting… Perhaps we can just hide it in our vuvuzelas.
    Amanda recently posted..Thursday Traveler- Jenny Leonard

  6. johnny December 3, 2010 at 2:23 am #

    couldnt agree more – FIFA have really raised a few eyebrows with this one :S
    johnny recently posted..The good- the bad and the ugly of Khao San road- Bangkok

  7. Nancie December 3, 2010 at 5:13 am #

    I’m glad I can take soccer or leave it :)

  8. Melvin December 3, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    We should finance a fan who is going to live there a couple of weeks before! He needs a huuuuuge income, so that he is able to buy all the booze! Then we’ll rock Qatar!

    I still can’t believe about the choice…
    Melvin recently posted..Explore Gunung Mulu National Park in Borneo – Malaysia

    • Michael Hodson December 3, 2010 at 9:03 am #

      I think I may have come up with my next job…

  9. Andi December 3, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    I sooooo want to go! Brasil, Russia, Qatar, can’t wait!!!
    Andi recently posted..Cuba- Day 6 Part 2

  10. T-roy December 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Qatar…COME ON! Seriously i bursted out laughing when I read that as it blew my mind what FIFA was thinking for that location. It’s all politics but i mean, why not at least Dubai, as it’s the sin-city for the Middle East, has the hotels to support about anything and they actually don’t give a crap about being Muslim as long as your spending money (ie; beers are only $8 USD a piece all day long there!). They sold their morals years ago… but then again i think Qatar and Doha has too but there just tiny dots compared to Dubai and what it offers.

    I agree, the duty free shops are going to make a killing and yeah they will sell out and have booze ready for consumption when the World Cup takes off. Oh it’s cool to be Muslim there when you want to be but if you can make money, they can look past the Koran. I wonder how there going to handle the public display of “affection” when the games are going on. I had a friend that was at a Subway one time with his Asian girlfriend. They were holding hands while waiting in line and someone said that what they were doing was wrong and called the cops (seriously)! Next thing he knew he was being asked to show a marriage license to verify they were married. He kept saying they weren’t married and were dating (for almost 8 months they had been) but the bottom line was the cops thought because she was Asian and him Western that she must have been a hooker. I think it took everything he had not to blow up over that one… but have heard worse from others about things like that there.

    Glad you wrote this because after working in the MIddle Eats for 4 years, this was the 1st thing that popped into my head when I heard they were getting it in 2022. I compare it to having the winter Olympics’ in Jamaica (we can only hope)! hahaha
    T-roy recently posted..Things You See in Ecuador That Make You Wonder- WTF Ecuadorian Math

  11. @_thetraveller_ December 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    ACK! …. although I doubt I will be at the World Cup in 2011, this is the most important thing to find out!
    I was quite disappointed to find out at a soccer (sorry ‘football’ game) in Argentina that they don’t serve booze because it makes the audience too crazy (even more than they are sober). Luckily it was a lot easier to sneak in booze than at a hockey game in Canada haha!
    @_thetraveller_ recently posted..Travel Horror Story- Vodka Haze- Nha Trang

  12. Ali December 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Absolutely hilarious! Laughed my ass off reading this. I agree with you that they had to have made some kind of agreement with FIFA about allowing alcohol, otherwise I believe this may start World War III.
    Ali recently posted..Opt Out of What

  13. Adam December 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    Fantastic post. This is real issue that needs prompt and accurate reporting, and you did a stand up job.

    However, I don’t see what the big deal is. If Russia is going make the heavy drinking of vodka mandatory, maybe FIFA was just looking out for the fans’ best interest for the following World Cup?
    Adam recently posted..100 Things I Love about Travel – 19 – 10

    • Michael Hodson December 3, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

      ahhhh — the “liver compensation theory.” I like it.

  14. m.ay December 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    hi this is someone from Qatar to reply,
    well, all what i can say is u all dont have the right to judge about Qatar ant its ability to host such an event before googling it well .
    come and visit, come and see how is the life going well here and how people are good enough to run such a big event.
    and for those who doesnt know where is Qatar located, in my opinion they didnt move anywhere cross their boundary because all the surrounding world are talking about Qatar and its achievements.

    one more word and a last one, give as a chance.. we really can make it .

    • Michael Hodson December 3, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

      I actually have little doubt that Qatar will do a fine job hosting the World Cup — they certainly have the money to do so. But just because a country can do it, doesn’t mean they should be allowed to do it. There are a wide variety of reasons that Qatar is a bad location for the World Cup and in fact, they were rated a “high risk” by the World Cup evaluation teams that looked into the matter. Summer heat. Lack of airport access. Lack of local population to go to the games. Serious concerns about the structure of the government. The list goes on and on. Qatar’s money bought them the World Cup — as a soccer/football fan, I hope it works out well, but they were a horrible choice. No offense to your homeland, but simply true in this case.

  15. Gray December 3, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    Funny post, Michael. Sounds like a black market liquor economy may develop in Qatar in the future….I can actually imagine a great humorous novel being written about this: The misadventures of entrepreneurial young Qatari men trying to make a buck off the liquor-deprived Westerners attending the World Cup without running afoul of the law. Also loved the paragraph on Russia. You have a wicked sense of humor.
    Gray recently posted..The Village Idiot in Paris

  16. m.ay December 4, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    Summer heat can be solved by air conditioned stadiums and dont try to convince that our summer is worst than your because i have been in USA and Europe as well many times and the weather there was a disaster lately ..
    Lack of airport access, who said so!! stop talking without evidence DUH
    Lack of local population to go to the games, dont count Qatar’s population only, count the whole Arabic Gulf together, because we are one hand and we always will be.
    STOP BEING JEALOUS
    we dont only have the money, we have all the abilities to host it.
    and yes we are rich and proud, I tried to convinced you in a better way but it seems like you can’t understand “block minded “

    • Michael Hodson December 4, 2010 at 8:56 am #

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-17/qatar-is-only-high-risk-candidate-among-nine-bidders-to-host-world-cup.html

      “Qatar’s bid to host the soccer World Cup is the only one of nine contenders to stage the event in 2018 or 2022 to receive an overall “high” operational risk rating from the sport’s governing body.”

      “In a separate FIFA assessment of all bids made public yesterday, the Gulf state’s suitability to host sport’s most- watched event was questioned because of the “potential health risk” posed by its summer temperatures — which can reach more than 46 degrees centigrade (115 degrees Fahrenheit) — and challenges linked to having 12 stadiums within a 20-mile radius.”

    • Michael Hodson December 4, 2010 at 8:58 am #

      and I am not sure how much credibility I anyone is going to give to a commenter that hides behind anonymity and does not give their name, email address or any other information.

    • Irfan August 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      Whoever whatever you are. I have lived in that rubbish country for 10 years. Hosting a game is far far far away from imagination. Infact, 2017 they will say we cant do the games because we are too tiny cocks. Hahah. We Aussies gonna do it baby. F u ( k Qatar.

  17. m.ay December 4, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    i wish you a long life, to be i live n 2022 and attened it. i promise to cover all your stay costs from A to Z .
    peace is our slogn .
    this the end , i have to go and celebrate with other Qataries our WIN

    have a nice weekend

  18. LeslieTravel December 5, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    LOL! Love your guide. Thanks for including the links, phone number and address so soccer/football fans can get their liquor on in Qatar. Either the prisons will be filled with FIFA revelers or they’re gonna have to look the other way and allow foreigners to buy alcohol. We’ll see!
    LeslieTravel recently posted..Street art photo of the week- Hooded angel by ASVP

  19. Theodora December 5, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    Your research didn’t cover when Ramadan falls in 2022? If it hits World Cup time, that’s going to be a right barrel of laughs.

    The region’s royalty haven’t got a lot of memos…
    Theodora recently posted..Seeing Stars in the Outback

  20. Erica December 6, 2010 at 3:33 am #

    Wonderfully witty, sarcastic and amazing. I rather enjoyed your research into the one liquor location in Qatar. Fantastic!
    Erica recently posted..Travel Photography December 3

  21. Liv December 6, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    Thanks for the informative and engaging post, Michael – I’m still mindboggled by the decision to bring the World Cup to Qatar. I’m sure the country has loads of soccer fans but isn’t part of the World Cup fun the sheer madness involved? Makes no sense to me….
    Liv recently posted..My Backyard

  22. Sophie December 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    2022 is a long ways off and the Middle East is a rapidly changing region. I shouldn’t be surprised the Qataris will put on a good show. Have to admit, though – Doha is one of the hottest places I’ve ever been :)

    • Michael Hodson December 7, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

      I am hoping to do more Middle East early in 2011 — I will go scout it out up close and personal for everyone.

  23. Stephen December 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    This was all just a bad dream. Qatar didn’t really get the World Cup, did they?

    • Michael Hodson December 9, 2010 at 8:08 am #

      I haven’t looked to be sure, but aren’t they most likely going to be the worst World Cup team in history, with their automatic bid?

  24. Ewan Hoosarmy December 10, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    Well, you certainly excelled yourself there, fully taking the p*ss out of the Qatari’s and their efforts to host a global event. Very funny indeed – not! Your research into this extended as far as Wikipedia; very impresssive! Perhaps if you were to actually carry out some real research into the subject, you might find that Qatar is one of the friendliest places to live and work (yes, I live and work there) and access to a beer is no problem at all. Nor will it be for the 2022 WC. HH Shk Hamad has already stated this. In addition, the award of the WC will see massive benefits for ALL those residents of Qatar and the surrounding Gulf countries.

    Take a look at the Doha Asian Games 2006 (second in size only to the Olympics). Qatar did a FANTASTIC job of running this event, and I am certain that the 2022 WC will be the same. Want a job in construction? Come to Qatar!

    • Michael Hodson December 10, 2010 at 11:36 am #

      glad you liked the gag and thanks for reading!

    • Irfan August 25, 2012 at 1:19 am #

      One more thing, is Qatar gonna play any games or get kicked out before enterering into the games. Haheehehr. . What shit country is Qatar. You are ass licker of the stupid arrogant and gay Arabs. Now don’t tell tell hoosarmy that Qatar did good in Asian games. Hey I was there too. It was the biggest flop games ever. Who r u bullshitting Kunt. Job in Qatar. Hey you get salaries after six months past the due date. Ass wipe Qatar.

  25. Bob December 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    Doha also plays host to a US airbase of about 2,000 servicemen/women. I wonder how they’ll be taking advantage of the commissary loophole in regards to this dilemma (on-base commissaries are like 7-11’s for soldiers and sell a variety of American products, including beer)? More importantly, what is the legality of taking items purchased there off-base?

    • Michael Hodson December 18, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

      Servicemen and women financially benefitting from some arraignment like that?? Say it isn’t so….. ;)

  26. Fuggaboutit March 24, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    Why would the FIFA officials award the games to a country in the middle of a warzone!!! Don’t you think that is a little dangerous for western teams who’s nations are fighting in that region. And a side note I would never attend a game where i couldnt drink and then go get laid

  27. Davy Jones February 8, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    I lived in Qatar for approx 13 years and am now back in the UK and so happy to be here even though I earn less money at least I can go to a pub and have a beer without having anybody even thibnking of arresting me for it. also I can have bacon butty’s anytime I want. I really do not know how Qatar is going to cope with what they say are the number of fans to turn up as their police force is not exactly as robust as we have in Europe. Also all the guys in my local pub have said they are not going to the Qatar world cup as it will be too expensive, too hot and they would enjoy it more in their local pub with a beer with their mates and them go home to their own beds.

  28. Cali April 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    This article is full of factual errors.

    IAAF Champs were in 2010.

    Nothing says alcohol prices will go up in hotels.

    There is no holy land to any religion in Qatar.

    Burma isn’t a country, it’s called Myanmar.

    An Imam isn’t an opinion maker.

    One should not write such nonsense. If you are uneducated then you need to do some research before writing such crap.

    Hilarious to see so many people write ”great article!”, I guess people around here just aren’t too bright…

    • Michael Hodson April 10, 2013 at 6:57 am #

      Thanks for visiting the site! Come back soon.

      • Cali April 24, 2013 at 8:38 am #

        You are welcome and I’m back!

        I’m glad you decided to at least reply to me, however you failed to comment on anything relevant regarding the tons of factual errors in your article.

        I can’t help but wonder why…

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