14 June, 2009

Who's been drinking in my bar?

Something strange is happening in Doha. And while that in itself is quite normal, this is a new kind of strange. The Qatar Tourism and Exhibition Authority and Ministry of the Interior (!) requires that access to any bar shall be on production of a valid ID or Passport. Originals only, no copies. But it is not enough just to flash the card. The details, name, ID number, date and time, are to be manually entered into a log-book. But what is the permanent record for?
Not to keep out illegals, because that can be done without the log-book.
Not to identify illegals, because by definition only legals are recorded.
Not to find who is drinking alcohol because no record is kept of what customers drink.
Not to discourage national dress in the bar, because no record is kept of what guests are wearing.
Not even as a security check of who is present, because no record is made of when guests leave.
Then there are the usual anomalies: what is the difference between a bar that serves food and a restaurant that serves alcohol?
Because there was no explanation accompanying the ruling, rumours are rife. Some say it is a 'record of shame' to discourage nationals from frequenting the bars. But then why register the expats? Others that it is to help police track offenders who commit crimes shortly after leaving the bar. That makes no sense, so it's probably true. Or can any readers here offer a better theory? My money is on pointless prurience.


Dubai Jazz said...

//That makes no sense, so it's probably true.//

well played.

Anonymous said...

UAE Community Blog
A forum to unite great UAE web diarists

And yet I see no mention of the UAE in this post.

Can I then post my entry on candy land here as well?

Para Glider said...

Dubai Jazz - thanks
Blessing in Tragedy - I'm a UAE & Qatar blogger, interested in both places, and many other places too. Sorry you are not ;)

Grumpy Goat said...

Prurience? You mean someone is getting off by being frustraneous?

Yup, that seems most likely.

Para Glider said...

GG - you don't miss a trick - that's exactly what I meant!

Anonymous said...

Some Sheikh had a dream and/or bad day and decided this was a good ruling, similar to many rulings/laws in these family run business'/countries.

It was probably heralded as a wise and benevolent ruling by sheikh so and so the greatest ruler of our times...yaddy yaddi ya...blabidy blabidy blah.....

Anonymous said...

its clearly a decision made by a dump sitting behind his government desk.

it seems he just decided to work.. and he made this decision... lol

Para Glider said...

And today's development is a new notice outlining such things as are unacceptable. These include: under 21s, immodest dress, Qatari females of any age (sic!), lewd gestures, drunkenness, rowdiness and swearing. What are they trying to create - dens of iquity?

Anonymous said...

Oh God this post is laced in the high and mighty bullshit that is the foreign residents of the gulf it isnt even funny.

As for the REASON, I think it's simple. To deter muslims from frequenting bars.

How many "muslims" will you see in a bar in Dubai? a 1/4 of the people there probably. Its rather easy, and temptation is rampant.

Asking for you to actually sign in will:

a. add a form of shame to the person, they probably wont be willing to, in the case of many Egyptians for example. They are willing to go in, drink, make fools of themselves, but are also big on "honor" The types that will drink alone and flirt with Evanca on Friday night but then asks his family to find a "honorable" girl for him.

Having to sign in isnt something many many of these so called muslims are willing to do. So it's a deterrent.

It's also proof if legal action is ever taken. Qatari law is much like it is here in the UAE. A muslim person found drunk, or drinking at all, is given a different punishment than a non-muslim.

You signing in is basically a confession. And could be used as such.

For example, if deportation isnt carried out, a UK citizen might be jailed, or asked to pay a fine, or both, for being drunk.

A Muslim will be caned.

You signing in is you confessing that you were at the bar.

And for those who understand Islamic law, as it is prescribed (and carried out in our courts) knows that one need not be drunk (or even drink) for the punishment of lashing to be judged.

In fact, TECHNICALLY, a muslim can be judged with lashings for HOLDING an alcoholic drink.

Like I said, all of you are SO very smart yet couldn't come up with these few very logical reasons.

Of course, the BEST thing would be to not have bars. But in 2009, money is more important than decency.

So, if you cant close the bars (being that most bars are owned by Shaikh this or that) you do the next best thing, try to limit muslims going to them.

Para Glider said...

Which doesn't answer the questions, but thanks anyway, especially for the gratuitous insults.

Alexander said...


You don't have to be an unpleasant wee shit to make your point, you know...

He said...

@ Anon 5.56, so what you are actually saying is, instead of closing the bars and showing “decency” and “understanding Islamic Law”, Qatar chose to be a hypocrite, double standard, money hungry country.

You say, “In fact, TECHNICALLY, a Muslim can be judged with lashings for HOLDING an alcoholic drink.“

Therefore sir, based on your statement, let me ask you, is Qatar considered to be a Muslim country, can I “judge” Qatar and find it guilty against Islamic teachings because it “holds” and allows alcohol all over the place?

Anonymous said...

But what is the permanent record for?

My explanation answered your question perfectly.

To recap: 1. To deter muslims from bars, 2. to be used legally if ever needed.

Not my fault if you cant comprehend well. They have courses for that.

Alex... truth and direct = unpleasant little shit?

God will you have a hard life.


LookingforGoodBar said...


At the start of the year, the Arabic press in Doha went nuts after a story about a group of Qatari women who dressed up in Western-style clothing and went out clubbing (at one of Doha's few nightclubs).

Naturally, a solution needed to be found for this national social problem, and the new door scheme seems to be it (as well as gradually closing every bar in Qatar). There was the suggestion of a 'Clubbing Licence' (like an alcohol licence), but much better to confuse and irritate people with random rules and door stops.

Otherwise, you'd need to allow women to dance in public, or have an honest discussion about what young people want.

ABIT - the rules are not really about religion, so much as controlling the lives of young women. If you think it's keeping local men out of the bars in Qatar, you haven't been to many bars in Qatar (obviously).

Hey look, someone over there is doing the tango! Stop them! Stop them!

rosh said...

Please, watch what you're saying Mr ABIT. Don't have to get dramatic you know. Undermines whatever is it you're saying.

Para Glider said...

Not perfectly, Mr ABIT, because my question was about the sudden tightening up, whereas your explanation took no account of the recent change, addressing, as you did, only the evils of drink (and glorying in the punishments it can attract). LookingforGoodBar - yes, I remember that 'scandal'. The six month reaction time is about right too. Nothing happens quickly here, after all. Anyway, I know it's a minor issue on the grand scheme of things, but what can happen in Qatar can happen in Bahrain or UAE. Creeping Saudi-isation, some say. That's why I brought it to this forum.

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