Let us talk about morals: a ban on drunkenness, sex and shorts.
You don’t even think about simple freedoms until they are taken away. Going to the store, enjoying a beer in the park or moving in with a partner – all this is prohibited. In Qatar, there are limits on alcohol turnover, a ban on importing pork products, rules of conduct and a dress code. And there is also a division into “male” and “female” zones in public institutions and all hospitals. The zones are not strict – they can be crossed, they will not rush to kick you out for sitting on the wrong bench, but still, most follow the rules.
Qatar is much more liberal than Saudi Arabia but stricter than the UAE compared to its closest neighbors. Islam defines the laws and way of life in all three countries but is interpreted with different severity. For example, in Saudi Arabia, women are required to wear an abaya, and in the UAE, any opaque clothing covering the knees and shoulders is permissible. In fact, they dress as they please in the same Dubai: at least shorts, at least mini.
Qatar has taken a semi-conservative stance. Qatari women cover their heads and wear black abayas, while expats and local men only need to cover their shoulders and wear loose-fitting knee-length clothing. You cannot wear bikinis or swimming trunks on public beaches. Only fully closed Muslim swimwear is allowed. But there is a way out – these rules do not apply to private beaches of hotels.
And then night falls. Rules of conduct and dress code “fall asleep”. The mafia is waking up: bars and clubs open up with bare shoulders and short skirts, and close contact is much less condemned. It is better not to get drunk in the trash here. For a frankly drunken appearance on the street, they can be imprisoned for six months. By the way, all clubs close at 2 am.
I did not wholly follow the dress code: the dress is slightly above the knee, and the neckline a little lower. The police do not look at such details. Only once I was not allowed to bowl because of my shirt with bare shoulders. I had to go to the store and buy another. They can only find fault with government agencies and corporations. For example, it was absolutely forbidden in my office to show up with loose hair or in tight trousers. Free fit only.
Qatari laws prohibit relationships with one’s gender, and you can go to jail for sex outside of marriage. For this offence, Muslims are publicly flogged or the death penalty in case of treason. Victims of rape are themselves punished for illegal sex. Pregnancy outside of wedlock is also a crime.
Qatar is one of the worst places in the world to fall victim to a sex crime. So, you probably shouldn’t go to the police. Local media are silent, but stories of violence against labor, especially low-skilled workers, can be found in foreign media. Similar cases occur in neighboring countries of the East, also persecuting for extramarital sex.
These laws provide room for manipulation. In theory, any unmarried expat can quickly become the target of their enemies. One call and the police break into your hotel room looking for naked activities without a ring on their finger. But, again, the media do not publish any crime news, and the departments do not provide available statistics, so I have no examples.
Alcohol is under exceptional control. It is served in restaurants and bars but is not available for sale. Instead, you can buy it in the only alcohol store in the whole country – Qatar Distribution Company. To purchase, they will ask for a license, which is issued in advance with the consent of your employer. And the store itself is open only until seven in the evening. In short, you can’t run for a beer at night.
However, beer is an indispensable attribute of football matches. Depriving alcohol fans means cutting off a bunch of basic emotions from the upcoming World Cup-22 in Doha. Therefore, Qatar will expand the number of points of sale and reduce prices.
To explore all the beauties of Qatar, we recommend renting a car or opting for a Doha van rental service. Right-hand traffic, the road surface on the main highways is excellent, drivers are neat, traffic jams only during rush hours, speed limits are 60 km / h in cities and 120 km / h outside them. Most of the parking lots are in the centre of the capital, near hotels and public institutions.