While most of us will be enjoying the thrills of the next football World Cup from the comfort of our homes or local pubs, the hardcore fans will be making the journey to Doha to see it all in person. Just as merely checking Arsenal stats or Bundesliga results online can’t quite satisfy them, there is something entirely unique about witnessing the football matches from the throngs of the stadium. And this particular World Cup is sure to be a unique experience.
Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup marks the first time that the tournament happens in the Arab world. With such a special setting, the fans that are planning on travelling there should make a note of some fundamental differences that the country will present.
For starters, for all those fans that like to enjoy football with a few pints, this is going to be a little tricky. While Qatar is not completely a dry country, alcohol is prohibited in Islam and it will only be possible to buy alcohol for over 21’s and only in designated high end hotels and clubs, or select locations with a special permit. In light of the World Cup, Fifa fans will be able to purchase alcohol but again, only in select areas in the stadium. You’ll have to watch your limits however, since drinking in public is prohibited and actually being drunk in public is a crime! Fines for any offences are steep and you could even get a prison sentence.
Similarly, there is a zero tolerance policy on drugs and if you’re bringing any prescription medication, be sure to take a copy of your prescription or doctor’s note with you, as proof may be required. And not just any old note – it needs to be either signed by your doctor or stamped by the hospital or surgery.
Football can of course get people pretty riled up, but swearing and any other offensive or inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated and can result in getting jailed or deported. So you’ll have to cheer or commiserate in as demure a fashion as possible!
Even though the World Cup will be taking place in November and December, Doha is still the Middle East and in those months it is still very balmy, particularly for those used to British weather. The average temperature in Doha in November and December is 25 – 30C, so be sure to pack plenty of sunblock, keep to the shade and stay hydrated! Also, since hot temperatures tend to lead to more scanty clothing, generally Qatar has a comparatively relaxed dress code, but it’s a good idea not to wear anything overly revealing and for both men and women to keep shoulders and knees covered at all times. Certain locations and facilities can actually deny people entry if they’re deemed not to be dressed modestly.
This last one might be a particular shock, but nevertheless, a very important rule to be aware of. Relationships outside of marriage are strictly forbidden. Yes, you read that right. Any physical intimacy in public if you are unmarried is not permitted. Living together if you are unmarried is also not permitted, so if you’re planning on travelling with your boyfriend/girlfriend or life partner, be sure to check your hotel’s policy – officially, fans travelling for the world cup will be permitted to share rooms if you’re unmarried, but to stay on the safe side and make sure. For the are married, it’s a good idea to bring documented proof. The relaxation of these rules are only in place for purposes of the World Cup, so if you were planning on travelling elsewhere or staying longer, then separate hotel rooms may well be required. Additionally, for many places and activities, women are not permitted to be unaccompanied by either their husband, father or brother. Heartbreakingly, homosexual behaviour of any kind is illegal. Again, special dispensation for the World Cup has been given, but in the interest of safety it would be best generally for everybody not to flaunt their love. Any breach of the above rules, even if they seem extreme to Western culture, leads to fines, imprisonment or deportation.
Stay up to date with any important updates in the run up to the tournament, be respectful of the local customs and save the celebration parties for when you get back home!