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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Buying alcohol in Qatar

Also see: No new permits at the QDC!


Qatar is a place where people, including Muslims, can legally buy alcohol and then be taken to court for drinking it. Earlier this year an Egyptian man had some beers on a plane on the way here to try and forget the toothache he had. After checking in at his hotel he got a taxi and asked the driver to take him to a dental clinic. Instead, the driver took him to the police station and he ended up receiving lashes for being inebriated. When the sentence was passed, he wept (source: Gulf Times).

I wanted to clarify the laws regarding alcohol. Yet when I rang the Qatar Distribution Company, the only legal distributor of alcohol in the country, they claimed not to know the laws regarding alcohol. However, Qatar Law states that drunken behaviour in public or driving under the influence of alcohol is an offence punished by imprisonment, a fine or both (www.qatarlaw.com). As Sharia law is practised for Muslims, the punishment for Muslims may include lashing.

Where to buy alcohol in Doha

The only licensed shop you can buy alcohol at is the Qatar Distribution Company. To do so you need an alcohol permit, which can be obtained at the centre. Unfortunately, you can’t enter the shop without an alcohol permit, and you can only get an alcohol permit in the shop. You can also buy alcohol from hotels, which are (wait for it) supplied by the Qatar Distribution Company.


To obtain an alcohol permit you need a letter from your employer written in English. This must be signed and stamped by an authorised person in your company and be addressed to the Qatar Distribution Company. It must state the applicant’s position, basic salary (must be above 4000 riyals or 1100 dollars, and the letter must use the word basic), state if an accommodation entitlement is received or if the applicant receives free accommodation and whether the applicant is married. The applicant must also provide their ID/passport and residence permit (photocopies are acceptable) and a 1000 riyal (275 dollar) returnable deposit. You also have to complete an application form, and state your religion. All completed forms must be in backwards gothic Sanskrit script size 12 ¾ and with triple spacing, and should be aesthetically pleasing. (Actually, I just made up the last condition.)


Tel: 4699412/4699413/4687547
Address: PO Box 9483, Doha, Qatar
Unfortunately, their website seems to have disappeared.

Opening Hours

Permit Office Sun – Thu 8.00 a.m. – 7.30 p.m.
Sat 10.30 a.m. – 7.30 pm

Shop Sat – Thu 10.30 a.m. – 7.30 p.m.


Drive along C-ring road from the airport. You will come to “Ramada junction” – traffic light signals with the Ramada hotel on your right. Turn left onto Salwa Road. Drive over the fly-over and along Salwa road. Eventually you will come to a roundabout with a sign pointing towards the whole markets. Take the third exit off the roundabout. Drive along the road (whole market street), going straight ahead at the roundabout by the markets, for several kilometres. Eventually you will come to a building with black railings. Turn left straight after the railings, and just before the Qatar Technical College. Follow the road round and you will come to the Qatar Distribution Company. Yes, it’s hidden away in a backwards corner of Doha, but once inside the shop is cool, roomy and very well laid out and the staff are very helpful.

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