Qatar to ban beer at World Cup stadiums

Most of us won’t be jetting off to Qatar for the football World Cup (and many of us don’t want to), but fans who are gearing up for a trip to the Gulf will need to pack carefully.

Many things we take for granted in the UK are a strict no-no in the Islamic country and could land visitors with hefty fines or even jail terms.

Lovers of the sport are known for celebrating a little too vigorously and drowning their sorrows a little too deeply, but they’ll need to rein themselves in if they want to avoid rubbing up the authorities the wrong way.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the items and behaviours Brits and other foreign visitors will need to leave behind if they want to return home at the end of the tournament.

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Pork, porn and prayer

Aside from the obvious (i.e. drugs and weapons) there are four other categories of goods that are illegal to bring into the coutry: alcohol; pornography; pork products; and religious books and material.

So if you think you can read your Nuts magazine with a bacon sandwich and a pint, think again.

Also banned, and subject to confiscation, are e-cigarettes and liquids. So, again, keep that bubblegum-flavoured Juul out of your luggage.

That’s right, beer is banned

Well, more or less. You can’t bring booze into the country and it’s an offence to drink or get drunk in public. In fact, drinking in a public place could land you with a jail term of up to six months or a £700 fine. Or both.

But you can still get alcohol at specially licensed hotel restaurants and bars and expats living in the country can obtain a permit to buy it.

Still, make sure you don’t carry alcohol around with you and take note: the legal drinking age in Qatar is 21, not 18.

Swearing and 'rude gestures'

Can you imagine watching a football match without venting your frustrations?

You’ll need to if you’re going to Qatar.

“Swearing and making rude gestures are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed and/or deported,” the UK Foreign Office states in its official travel advice for the country.

PDAs

“Any intimacy in public between men and women (including between teenagers) can lead to arrest,” the Foreign Office says, but this gets much more serious when it comes to sex.

Sex outside of marriage is illegal and can lead to substantial fines, a prison sentence and deportation.

It gets worse, because if you’re an unmarried woman and you give birth in Qatar, you could also be arrested, imprisoned or deported when registering the birth.

“To get a birth certificate from the Qatari authorities, you must provide a marriage certificate and the authorities may compare the date of the marriage against the estimated date of conception,” the Foreign Office warns.

Being gay

One of the main reasons Qatar was such a controversial pick to host the 2022 World Cup was its criminalisation of homosexuality.

There, you don’t even have to be getting intimate with someone to run the risk of being severly punished, just being gay is enough.

However, if two men or two women are caught in bed together, they can be imprisoned for up to seven years, according to the Human Dignity Trust.

Not only this, but the organisation points out: “Qatar still operates Sharia courts in which it is technically possible for men who engage in same-sex intimacy to be sentenced to death.”

Vests

OK, you won't get thrown in jail for this but you can still get in trouble.

Visitors will need to dress “modestly” in public, the Foreign Office states. This means no shorts or sleeveless tops when going to government buildings, healthcare facilities or malls.

“If you do not dress modestly, you may be asked to leave or be denied entry to these locations.”

Failing to pay bills

Obviously pulling a runner is not OK in any country, but Qatar takes financial crimes extremely seriously.

So if you fail to pay for your rental car or hotel bill, you could find yourself locked up, slapped with a serious fine, deported, or all of the above.

And if you do end up drinking in one of those licensed bars, make sure you don’t get so wasted that you forget to pick up the tab.

Medication

Some medicines which you can get over the counter in the UK are considered controlled substances in Qatar, so if you need to take prescription medication make sure you have the official prescription with you or a note from your doctor.

When it comes to prohibited substances, it’s worth remembering that the country adopts a zero-tolerance approach.

The punishment for trafficking, smuggling or possessing even residual remounts of drugs are severe and, yet again, can include lengthy jail terms, heavy fines and deportation.

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