Qatar is an Islamic country. Care should be taken to behave in a manner that does not offend the country's culture or religious beliefs, particularly during Ramadan. Alcohol is not illegal in Qatar, but the following laws apply to alcohol and its consumption:
Expatriates living in Qatar can buy alcohol via a permit system. It is also available in licenced restaurants and hotels which may sell alcohol to adult, non-Muslim customers in restricted areas.
The Qatar Distribution Company is the sole importer and retailer of alcohol in the country. They run two shops which are the only places where alcohol can be purchased. They offer a wide range of beverages and a permit is needed to make a purchase. Any alcohol bought must be hidden from view and taken straight home. The amount of alcohol that a person can purchase each month depends on their salary.
Alcohol permits are administered by the Qatar Distribution Company and application forms can be obtained at their shop. A permit must be shown to enter the shop. A letter, written in English, is needed to apply for an alcohol permit. If the letter is written in Arabic it is usually accepted if it is accompanied by a stamped translation. The letter must be addressed to the Qatar Distribution Company, be stamped and signed by an authorised person within the company, and include the following information:
The following additional documents are also required:
Qatar has a zero tolerance attitude to driving under the influence of alcohol. Drink driving offenders are punished by custodial sentences ranging from one month to three years, a fine or both. Those caught drink driving may also be deported. People should be aware that it if a police file is opened against them for a drinking or driving related offence, then they are not allowed to leave the country until the case has been resolved. Most cases are straightforward, but more serious offences can take six months to go to court.
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