From accommodation to alcohol and drugs.. A guide for World Cup fans to follow the rules in Qatar

Fans coming to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup between November 20 and December 18 are asking a lot of questions about the rules they must respect while in the Gulf emirate.

Here are the most important things to know:

Before heading to Qatar

Due to limited accommodation, only match ticket holders will be allowed to enter Qatar from 1st November.

They can invite a maximum of three non-ticket holders, who will have to pay an entry fee of QR500 ($140) if they are over 12 years old.

After the group stage ends on December 2, it will not be necessary to hold a ticket to enter the country.

After purchasing tickets and completing reservations for accommodation on the official platform or on other sites (if they will be in the country for more than 24 hours) or submit documents proving that they will stay with family or friends, fans should apply for a Haya card It serves as a visa to enter the country, a ticket for matches, and a permit to use public transportation free of charge and to access emergency services in public hospitals.

Alcohol, drugs and medications

The consumption of alcoholic beverages by non-Muslims over the age of 21 is not illegal in Qatar, but it does so within a very limited framework.

It is forbidden to bring these drinks in baggage, even if they were purchased from duty-free markets, while residents are allowed to purchase spirits from stores designated for this, but the latter are not open to visitors.

Fans can have it in big hotels where a bottle of beer or glass of wine can cost more than ten dollars and a cocktail more than 15 dollars.

Stands selling beer around the stadiums will open three hours before matches and up to 30 minutes before the start of the whistle, and will open again for an hour after it ends.

In the main FIFA Fan Zone, alcohol will not be permitted until after 6.30pm.

In other fan zones, the rules are different.

Drugs of all kinds are prohibited, and in this regard, the British Embassy in Doha says in its guide for expats to Qatar published on its website, “Expect a severe punishment (imprisonment, a fine, deportation…) in the event of drug possession, even if in small quantities.”

The US Embassy also recommends that fans check that certain drugs are legal in Qatar, “particularly strong stimulants and analgesics”, and bring their own prescription.

It is also recommended not to bring pork or any products that “might be considered pornographic” (videos, sex toys).

clothing and behavior

Hijab is not mandatory for women in Qatar, and it is recommended for everyone to dress modestly in public, i.e. to cover the shoulders and knees.

This rule is applied in government buildings but in places frequented by foreigners, it is not very respected.

Given the temperatures (15-30°C) and air conditioning everywhere, it is advised to bring warm clothes.

Relationships outside of marriage are prohibited in Qatar, but health authorities will not require women in need of medical treatment to bring a marriage certificate even if they are pregnant.

The embassies recommend that victims of sexual assaults contact the consular services before the authorities.

Although there are laws criminalizing homosexuality, the Haya Card website asserts that there are “no restrictions” on “unmarried friends of the sexes or spouses (including LGBT people) staying in the same room.”

The British Embassy notes that “private life is very respectful in Qatar”, but like the organisers, warns that public display of feelings, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, “may be considered offensive”.

The US Embassy clarifies that “activities such as demonstrations, large gatherings, religious proselytizing, advocacy of atheism, and speeches critical of the Qatari government or Islam, may lead to legal prosecution.”

The International Football Association confirms that rainbow flags (LGBT people) are welcome in stadiums, while calling on the Qatari authorities to exercise caution outside.

Shared transportation

Qatar, which expects “crowding” during the World Cup, recommends its visitors to use the free public transport for Haya card holders.

The working hours of the metro will be extended to 21 working hours per day between 6 am and 3 am, except for Friday (weekly holiday in Qatar), which is the day that the metro will start at 9 am.

The Doha Metro, with its three lines, provides direct access to five stadiums out of eight.

As for the other three stadiums, buses will be provided to continue the journey to them from the metro stations.

It will also intensify the movement of buses, to connect the stadiums to important points in the capital and some accommodation and fans areas.

Taxis and rental cars with driver will be available.

On one of the highways in Doha, there will be a line for buses, taxis, police and emergency vehicles and official vehicles. Violators who use this route without a permit face a fine of up to 500 Qatari riyals (about $140).

COVID-19

It is not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or pass negative examinations and tests to enter Qatar.

Downloading the Ehteraz app is limited only to health centers, where masks must be worn.

Those with Covid must isolate for five days and then wear a mask for five days.

All private and public hospitals, health centers, clinics and pharmacies will be open to everyone, and emergency health care is free of charge in public hospitals for Haya card holders.

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