Where to get a beer? Bars packed amid Qatar’s alcohol limits

Nov 19, 2022, 6:03 PM | Updated: Nov 20, 2022, 8:06 am
FILE - Staff member pours a beer at a fan zone ahead of the FIFA World Cup, in Doha, Qatar Saturday...

FILE - Staff member pours a beer at a fan zone ahead of the FIFA World Cup, in Doha, Qatar Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. The last-minute decision to ban the sale of beer at World Cup stadiums in Qatar is the latest example of some the tensions that have played out ahead of the tournament. Qatari officials have for long said they were eager to welcome everybody but that visitors should also respect their culture and traditions. (AP Photo/Petr Josek)

(AP Photo/Petr Josek)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Chris, a British fan in Qatar for the World Cup, tried to order a beer with his dinner at a kebab joint on Sunday. He was quickly rebuffed.

He sighed and settled for a lemonade instead. “If I were a few years younger, I wouldn’t have even come to this World Cup,” said Chris, a 34-year-old sales manager from London who declined to give his last name for privacy reasons.

The question of where to get a drink, a fixture at sporting events around the world, in the conservative Islamic country has been top of mind for many fans since Qatar banned the sale of beer in stadiums on Friday in a stunning about-face. As a result, many of Doha’s bars and nightclubs — one of the rare places fans can get alcohol — were packed with crowds and had their tables fully booked on Sunday as the tournament kicked off with the match between the host country and Ecuador.

“We are super full,” said the hostess at Aqua Lounge bar in the Marriott Hotel. “It is painful to turn guests down.” The Irish Pub said the weekend has been “crazy.” DT Nightlife Club on the Corniche, a palm-tree lined boulevard along the Doha waterfront, advised fans to “come as early as possible, or else it probably won’t be possible.”

“Nope, not a chance you can get in,” said the hostess at the Belgian Cafe, another trendy spot in the city.

The rush on Doha’s bars reflects the tensions tearing at the Muslim country and challenges facing the tiniest host of the world’s biggest sporting event. Crowds already have overwhelmed the FIFA Fan Festival, now one of the only spot fans can get beer outside of luxury hotel bars. Qatari officials say the festival area has capacity for 40,000 people — a fraction of the visitors expected at peak times during the tournament. On Saturday just after 8 p.m., police turned away thousands of fans.

The unusually exorbitant price of alcohol has also dismayed many accustomed to a beer-fueled tournament.

“Man, we’re missing the beer,” said 48-year-old Fabian Cruz from Ecuador as he wandered around Doha’s city center. He said wouldn’t try to squeeze into the fan zone again after the chaos the night before and couldn’t stomach the thought of downing multiple $14 beers at his hotel.

As a result, he faced the very real prospect of having to attend the opening match — which pits his country against Qatar — completely sober. “We don’t even need a lot of alcohol. But we need some.”

The question of where and how to get alcohol has dominated World Cup fan WhatsApp and Facebook groups. Many swap tips about how to sneak liquor into the country. Some share success stories of pouring arak, a strong anise-flavored liquor, into empty bottles of hand sanitizer buried in their checked luggage. Others report their bottles were confiscated at the airport.

“Of course we’re disappointed,” Ritu Mohan from England said of the stadium beer ban, adding he’d be scouring the street for bars with an empty table on Sunday night. “But we should have known what we were getting into when we heard Qatar was hosting.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


NFL quarterback Tom Brady, a cast member and producer of "80 for Brady," poses at the premiere of t...
Associated Press

Tom Brady retires, insisting this time it’s for good

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady, who won a record seven Super Bowls for New England and Tampa, has announced his retirement. Brady — the most successful quarterback in NFL history, and one of the greatest athletes in team sports — posted the announcement on social media Wednesday morning, a brief video lasting just under […]
1 day ago
This combination of photos show salsa recipes, from left, pineapple mint jalapeno, spice pear and c...
Associated Press

Switching up salsas for the Super Bowl: 3 recipes

Certain foods are inextricably linked with game day parties: chicken wings, nachos, chili, guacamole … and salsa. Bowls and bowls of salsa. And while you can always pop open a jar, homemade salsa is extremely simple to make. The only skill it requires is a willingness to chop, mince and dice. Everyone loves a classic […]
1 day ago
FILE - Brazil's Dani Alves listens to a question during a press conference on the eve of the group ...
Associated Press

Dani Alves offers to turn in passport, wear tracking device

MADRID (AP) — Brazilian soccer player Dani Alves has agreed to turn in his passport and wear a tracking device if he is set free pending the sexual assault investigation against him, his lawyers said in an appeal filed to a Spanish court this week. Alves was provisionally detained in January after being accused of […]
1 day ago
FILE - Australia's Sam Kerr (20) scores against Sweden's Nathalie Bjorn (14) during their women's f...
Associated Press

Women’s World Cup hosts urge FIFA not to sign Saudi sponsor

GENEVA (AP) — Women’s World Cup co-hosts Australia and New Zealand urged FIFA on Wednesday not to sign a sponsor deal with the tourism authority of Saudi Arabia where “rights of women remain severely restricted.” Leaders of the two national soccer federations warned in a letter to FIFA, including president Gianni Infantino, that unilaterally sealing […]
1 day ago
FILE - Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, reacts after falling in the women's combined slalom ...
Associated Press

Shiffrin shifts from record chase to medal races at worlds

Perspective. The big picture. Dealing with both success and failure. Mikaela Shiffrin did a lot of soul searching after she didn’t win a medal and didn’t finish three of her five individual races at last year’s Beijing Olympics after entering the games amid enormous expectations. Her takeaways? “Accept a little bit more that sometimes things […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Latvia considers Olympic boycott if Russians compete

RIGA, Latvia (AP) — Latvia will consider boycotting next year’s Paris Olympics if athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus are allowed to take part after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While various governments in Europe, including Latvia, have condemned the International Olympic Committee’s push to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete, and Ukraine has threatened […]
1 day ago
Where to get a beer? Bars packed amid Qatar’s alcohol limits