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New Regulations Enforced for Drinking in Qatar Bars

New bar rules evoke complaints
By Peter Townson/Staff Reporter
From The Gulf Times

A number of residents in Doha have complained about recently introduced regulations requiring them to apply for membership to certain bars and clubs as well as providing ID upon entering such establishments in Qatar.

Due to new national regulations, hotels are enforcing membership rules, ensuring that all visitors have either a valid Qatari ID, their passport, or in many cases a membership card to enter the premises.

The bars now have a published set of rules outside the premises to indicate the necessary entry requirements, and although certain rules change from place to place, the general guidelines are the same throughout.

All applicants for membership must be over 21 years of age and possess a valid Qatari ID card, and the printing of membership cards usually costs a small fee, ranging from around QR30 to QR50 (and QR100 for replacements in some cases).

However, the new rules have meant that many places have substantial queues outside their establishments, and during special events guests can often have to wait for over half-an-hour to have their membership cards of ID scanned by hotel staff.

A representative of one hotel bar in Doha claimed that another major issue with the new membership rules had been the problem of informing their guests of the regulations.

“It seems it has been the hotels who have had to tell people about these new rules, not the people who have instigated them,” he said, arguing that it would have been beneficial to have some information regarding the reasons for the new rules and their specific details.

“I think they brought in the rules to prevent people who are living here illegally from drinking in the bars, and also to stop Qatari ladies from entering any drinking establishments,” he added.

Another hotel representative explained that the introduction of the new membership system had cost the hotel a significant amount.

“It was a big cost to the hotel to get all the necessary software and hardware to create the membership cards and register everyone’s details,” he said, adding: “However, we are trying to keep the cost of membership as low as possible for our guests.”

He pointed out that the new regulations do make it somewhat easier to “control the clientele,” and said that the rules have made life easier for the busier bars in Qatar.

However, a number of Western expatriates who have lived here for many years have become disgruntled at the new rules, claiming that it makes it more difficult for them to enter bars – especially if they have guests visiting from aboard.

Many have reported that visitors have travelled to hotels, only to be informed that they cannot enter without their passport – a document most travellers like to keep safe in their hotel room when abroad.

And other visitors to the bars – especially those who are quite obviously over 21 – resent the need to screen their ID before entering establishments they have been frequenting for years.

Government regulations defining what is appropriate dress and behaviour have also been highlighted by the hotels.

But these have also been bemoaned by customers who have in fact been turned away from places because of the clothes they are wearing.

Government officials were unable to comment, except to confirm that new rules had recently been introduced to all establishments serving alcohol in the country.

October 3, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Privacy, Qatar, Women's Issues | 5 Comments