During the World Cup in 2022, the Islamic State of Qatar will allow its fans to drink alcohol in designated fan zones, but only at certain times. The rules are based on Islamic law. Public intoxication is prohibited, and criticizing Islam can be punished by a fine of up to $800 or up to six months in prison.
Qatar is a conservative, Islamic country. It is an absolute monarchy, and the hereditary emir has complete control over all governmental decisions. Islamic law is based on principles outlined in the Quran, which are considered the word of Allah by Muslims. Among the rules, alcohol is prohibited in public, and women should not wear short skirts and men should cover their shoulders. Other rules include swearing in public, and rude gestures.
The World Cup is being hosted in Qatar, and the country has had twelve years to prepare for the event. As the host, Qatar agreed to relax alcohol restrictions in advance of the tournament. However, it has not yet taken full advantage of the agreement. Despite that, Qatari officials are flexing their muscles, with one faux-compromise already making headlines.
Qatari officials agreed to the relaxation of alcohol restrictions ahead of the World Cup, but the country’s conservative interpretation of Islam means that fans are not allowed to drink alcohol in public. Alcohol will be sold only in designated fan zones, and fans will not be allowed to drink alcohol on the streets or outside stadiums. Alcohol will only be sold to fans in official Fifa Fan Festival zones, and in hospitality boxes, which offer sommelier-selected wines and spirits. However, it is possible to drink alcohol outside the official fan zones, in special World Cup gathering spaces. In addition, fans will be allowed to drink in designated areas of clubs and restaurants, but not in public.
The Qatar World Cup will be the first to be hosted in a Muslim country. Islam is the official religion of the nation, and alcohol is not allowed in public. Qatari officials have also been criticised for their treatment of migrant workers, and they have threatened foreign press outlets with the destruction of their cameras in public areas.
The World Cup will be the first opportunity for fans to travel to the Middle East. It will also be the first time that fans will have access to the Arab world. But, for all of the excitement, drinking is also a concern. A man can be jailed for drinking alcohol in public, and a woman can be fined for sex-related offenses, such as groping. Alcohol will only be sold in licensed restaurants, bars, and hotels.
There are other restrictions in Qatar that will prevent ordinary fans from drinking at World Cup matches. Fans will not be allowed to open beer in public squares, and if a drunk fan gets into a fight, it can be punished by jail time. Additionally, alcohol will be sold only in licensed restaurants and hotels, and the hours of sale will be strictly controlled.