What you need to know about drinking alcohol at the World Cup in Qatar

AAlcohol has caused headaches for Qatar since it won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Alcohol sales and consumption are heavily restricted in the conservative Gulf Arab nation.

But FIFA has long protected its commercial interests, and with Budweiser as one of its most prominent sponsors since the 1986 tournament in Mexico, drinking is as reliable a part of the quadrennial celebrations as the sport itself.

Qatar initially agreed to relax its rules on the availability and sale of alcohol for the World Cup. But last week, just eight days before the Nov. 20 opening ceremonies, Budweiser, which has exclusive rights to sell beer at the football tournament, received a sudden order from the top down to move its stadium beer stands to more discreet locations. Anonymous sources told The New York Times that the sudden directive came from the Qatari royal family, namely Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, brother of Qatar’s ruling emir, amid concerns that the excessive visibility of alcohol would upset the local population and create security problems.

On Friday, just two days before kickoff, the Associated Press reported that the tournament organizers have decided to completely ban the sale of alcoholic beer in all eight World Cup stadiums.

Below is what you need to know about the sale of alcohol at the World Cup in Qatar.

What are the drinking rules in Qatar?

Unlike its only neighboring country, Saudi Arabia, Qatar is not a completely dry country, but it does have strict rules regarding alcohol. According to the cultural awareness of the World Cup in Qatar guidance, the consumption of alcohol is “not part of the local culture” and is only served to non-Muslims over the age of 21 in licensed restaurants, bars and hotels. There is a liquor store in Qatar which is available to non-Muslim residents. Besides, it is prohibited for importing alcohol into Qatar from abroad. Drilling fans these rules could face deportation or a fine of up to 3,000 riyals ($823), although the extent to which authorities enforce such laws during the tournament remains a question mark.

Drinking rules were relaxed for the tournament. Although drinking or being drunk in public is normally illegal, fans in Qatar will be allowed, subject to no other last-minute rule changes, to drink in designated, official fan areas after 6:30 p.m.

According to ESPN, there will be designated areas to sober up drunk fans. Qatar World Cup chief executive Nasser Al Khater described them as “a place to make sure they’re kept safe, that they’re not harmful to anyone else”.

Read more: Here are the celebrities boycotting the World Cup in Qatar

What will World Cup attendees be able to drink?

Drinking inside the stadium during matches remains prohibited. Most will only be able to consume non-alcoholic Budweiser Zero and Coca-Cola. (According to the FIFA website(those who give more than $30,000 in “hospitality” lounge tickets will have access to alcohol.)

This limitation is not entirely unprecedented; Previous World Cup hosts Brazil and Russia also banned drinking in stadiums, but FIFA successfully pressured both countries to lift those rules for the 2014 and 2018 tournaments respectively.

How much will the alcohol cost?

A pint of Budweiser will do it is reported price 50 Qatari riyals ($13.73), while the non-alcoholic version will be 30 riyals ($8.24) and water will cost 10 riyals ($2.75). Entertainment site Betting.com analyzed the average price of a beer in all 32 countries that qualified for the World Cup, with Qatar coming out on top, almost double the price of Denmark in second place.

However, Al Khater previously indicated that beer prices in fan zones and stadiums will be much lower for fans. He said in September: “We recognize there is a price issue and that is something we are looking at. We are looking for ways to reduce the price of alcohol.

Why are Qatar’s rules strict?

The rules reflect Qatar’s conservative culture. But the country has undergone a rapid economic transformation in recent decades, amid a hydrocarbon boom, from a small pearl-trading outpost to one of the world’s richest countries. Foreigners now make up 90% of the population.

Although alcohol has traditionally been restricted in the Arabian Gulf, it has a long history in the wider Middle East. Wine has been cultivated for millennia, and alcohol is available in a number of countries, such as Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

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Write to Armani Syed c [email protected].

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