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Six laws British citizens need to watch out for during the World Cup in Qatar

The FIFA World Cup will kick off in Qatar on November 20th, 2022 – the very first time the event has been held in the Middle East. A Legal expert from The University of Law has been looking at the six law British citizens could break when they make the journey to support the National team.

Undoubtedly the largest event in the footballing calendar, the decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar has sparked controversy, with the event even being held during the winter rather than the summer so that players can cope with the extreme temperatures.

The Muslim country is known for having stricter laws than the UK and Aruna Verma, Programme and Student Lead, at The University of Law explains the rules that Britons travelling for the World Cup should be careful not to break.

1. Alcohol

In Qatar, not only is it important to note that the legal drinking age is 21 but alcohol is only available to be purchased at licenced hotel restaurants and bars. While it remains legal for tourists and non-Muslims to drink in private, drinking to the point of intoxication and drinking in public spaces are punishable by law.

Aruna Verma explained “Drinking in public places in Qatar could result in a prison sentence of up to 6 months or a fine of nearly £700. It is also illegal to import alcohol into the country so avoid buying anything in duty-free or it will get confiscated, and you could be arrested.

2. Drugs

Like the UK, Qatar has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs-related offences and the penalties are severe for even the smallest amount. Even carrying common prescription drugs can be a criminal offence including Codeine, Xanax and Diazepam.

Aruna Verma said: “If you need to take prescription medicine away with you, make sure you have your prescription on hand or a letter from your GP detailing the drug, quantity and dosage to avoid legal complications. In Qatar, punishment for drugs related offences can include fines, deportation and even the death penalty.”

3. Smoking and vaping

Laws in Qatar do not allow for the sale, purchase or importation of e–cigarettes, vape, liquids or related products. Airport securities are likely to confiscate any of these items should they find them in your luggage, so it is best to avoid them altogether.

Aruna Verma added: “The ban on vapes came into action in 2014 and punishment for the sale, purchase or even advertisement of the product can range from £2,000 fines to several months in prison.”

4. Offensive behaviour

Brits travelling to Qatar should be cautious of laws around profanities, as swearing and making rude gestures can actually result in a jail sentence or even deportation.

Aruna Verma said: “Not only should you avoid bad language when out in public but, in Qatar, simply pointing your finger at someone can also be seen as insulting, so you should probably avoid this as to not upset anyone.”

5. Dress Codes

Qatar has some strict dress codes as a religious country that tourists should follow. When in public and even while driving, you should dress modestly.

Aruna Verma explained: “Men and women are advised not to wear shorts or sleeveless tops when visiting shopping centres, health care facilities or government buildings. Women should also cover their shoulders and avoid short skirts in general.”

6. Relationships

Like many Muslim countries, relationships are considered a private matter in Qatar.

Aruna Verma added: “For anyone in a romantic relationship, signs of intimacy can be considered an offence and should be avoided. Any homosexual relations are also regarded as illegal in Qatar, while non-married couples are not allowed to share a bed or have sex. While the administration for the Qatari World Cup has publicly confirmed that no restrictions on non-married friends or couples staying in the same room will be imposed (as cited on the UK Government’s travel advice), legal rights and protections for LGBTQ+ fans remain widely debated in the run up to the tournament.”