Here are a few laws and customs to bear in mind
Die-heart fans of Messi, Ronaldo and others are eager to get into Qatar and bang their support towards their favorite teams. This year’s host nation, “Qatar,” a calm, conservative nation, presents a variety of prohibitions on hooliganism, graphic sexuality, drugs, alcohol, and other behaviors through local customs and legislation.
Although Qatar has made an effort to project an atmosphere of openness toward outsiders, but traditional values are still strongly held in the hereditarily ruled emirate. Here is practically everything you need to know about Qatari local laws and customs, which every tourist is required to abide by.
Local Laws & Customs
Qatar is an Islamic nation, which is reflected in local laws and practices. Always be mindful of your behavior to avoid offending others and respect local traditions, customs, laws, and faiths, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan or if you plan to visit places of worship. It is very important that you become familiar with and respect local laws and customs.
It is an offense to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. Alcohol is served only in hotels, restaurants and bars that have licenses in Qatar. However, non-Muslim Doha residents with a liquor license are allowed to consume alcohol at home. Budweiser beer can be purchased inside stadium grounds at the World Cup, but not at concourse concession booths or before or after matches.
In the evenings, supporters can get drunk at a special “fan zone” in the heart of Doha. Public intoxication is typically punished in Qatar with severe fines and jail time. However, the head of Qatar’s security operations has stated that while most violations will go unpunished during the tournament, police may make an arrest if someone engages in a drunken altercation or damages public property. The legal drinking age is 21, and bar bouncers frequently demand photo ID or passports to enter.
In terms of drug policy, Qatar is one of the most stringent countries in the world, outlawing not only marijuana but also over-the-counter medicines, sedatives, and amphetamines. In Qatar, there is zero tolerance for drug-related offences. Drug use, trafficking, smuggling, and possession of any amounts of drugs are all punishable by harsh laws. Deportation, lengthy incarceration terms, hefty fines and even death penalty, are all possible forms of punishment.
The Hamad International Airport serves as a major transit hub for travelers and visitors going to other places. The airport uses cutting-edge security measures; all baggage are examined; and transiting passengers who are found to be in possession of drugs, even in trace amounts, may be detained.
In Qatar, some over-the-counter and prescription medications might be considered restricted substances. If you need to bring restricted or prescription medication into Qatar, be sure to have a valid doctor’s prescription, hospital note, or letter from your primary care physician on hand that specifies the medication, the quantity provided, and the recommended dosage. The doctor or consultant should also sign and mark this note or letter, as well as the hospital or practices.
In Qatar, cohabitation between unmarried men and women is illegal, and extramarital sex is punished by so-called indecency laws. Unmarried couples, however, are reportedly able to share hotel rooms without incident during the World Cup. Public shows of affection are “frowned upon” in public, according to the official tourism website. While holding hands won’t get you locked up, tourists should refrain from displaying closeness in public.
Adults found guilty of consensual gay or lesbian intercourse in Qatar face prison terms of one to three years. Additionally, cross-dressing is illegal. According to World Cup officials, anyone is welcome to attend “without fear of any form of penalties,” regardless of their sexual orientation. However, one official issued a warning that rainbow flags might be seized to protect supporters from being harmed for supporting gay rights in an area where discrimination is pervasive. Homosexual behavior is illegal in Qatar.
People who engage in obscene behaviors, such as cursing and making crude gestures, may face imprisonment and/or deportation. Dealing with the police and other authorities requires extra caution. Many Qatari women and men will not shake hands with the opposite sex; wait for a hand to be offered.
Protest organizers in Qatar are required to acquire approval from the Interior Ministry. This cannot be done on the spot; it must be done in preparation.
Men and women are urged to “show respect for local customs by avoiding unnecessarily revealing clothes in public,” according to Qatar’s official tourism website. It requests that guests cover their knees and shoulders. Government offices and shopping centers may refuse entry to anybody wearing shorts and sleeveless tops. Women in the city who visit mosques will be given scarves to cover their heads. In public, including while operating a vehicle, you should dress modestly.
Importation of Goods
It is against the law to bring into Qatar any type of unlawful substance, including alcohol, pork products, pornography, and religious literature. The Hamad International Airport Arrivals Hall conducts a full baggage scan. It is possible to check, censor, and seize DVDs and videos. Additionally, electronic cigarettes, liquids, and other similar goods are not permitted to be imported, sold, or purchased in Qatar (e.g. electronic shisha pipes). Irrespective of the quantity or intended use, the law is applicable. Any such things discovered entering the nation through any methods, including in travelers’ luggage or sent via mail, may be seized and confiscated by customs agents.
When shooting or recording individuals or groups at places of worship, the military, or construction, be mindful of cultural sensitivities. Some tourists have been detained for trying to record video or take pictures in sensitive spots. Ask for permission if you’re unsure. To film or take photos as part of your work as a journalist, you must obtain authorization from the Qatar News Agency (QNA) and enter the country with a visiting press pass. This license offers other important information as well as clearing technological equipment, including cameras, through airport customs.
In Qatar, there are stringent privacy rules. It may be illegal in Qatar to publish internet content (including videos and pictures) that appears to offend, defame, or is culturally insensitive. People have been arrested, charged with crimes, and/or found guilty for sharing this kind of content. So be mindful.
The State of Qatar reserves the power to issue an Administrative Deportation order if you are proven guilty of a crime. Regardless of whether deportation was part of the judgment, this is true.
Being a Die-Heart fan, you should therefore be especially more cautious about everything, including customs, laws, dress codes, acceptable behavior, and drugs and alcohol. Best wishes, and may your preferred team triumph.
Contributed by Sanal Pillai
Edited by Imtiaz Ullah