Qatar Enacts 100-Percent Alcohol Tax as the 2022 World Cup Looms
Not long after last year’s 2018 World Cup kicked off in Russia, one of its biggest stories had nothing to do with soccer: Instead, reports began circulating that beer-loving sports fans were drinking parts of the country dry. But when the World Cup lands in Qatar in 2022, visitors may struggle to afford all of those brews. As of January 1, Qatar has doubled the price of alcohol thanks to a newly enacted 100-percent excise tax.
Billed as “selective taxes on health-damaging goods,” the new law doesn’t target alcohol alone: The price of tobacco, energy drinks, and pork will also double, and sugary drinks will be taxed 50 percent, according to the New York Times. However, with Qatar less than four years away from hosting one of the largest global events — an event known for drawing plenty of alcohol-adoring visitors, no less — news of the new tax immediately brings the plight of soccer fans to mind.
In Qatar’s defense, though doubling the price of a beer overnight might be extreme, it’s not like the Muslim country with a foundation in Sharia law was a bastion of boozing beforehand. Bringing your own alcohol into the country isn’t allowed, and drinking or being drunk in public is banned. The entire country of over 2.6 million people apparently only has one alcohol store — the Qatar Distribution Company. Outside of that, most people will head to the limited number of bars and restaurants located on hotel properties.
Still, the new list of retail prices isn’t pretty. Customers at the Qatar Distribution Company can now expect to pay at least $104 for a case of beer or about $83 for a one-liter bottle of gin. Sky News suggests that your best bargain might be a bottle of South African Shiraz which now comes to just $23.
Granted, the prices at the Qatar Distribution Company don’t really affect World Cup fans; the store is instead intended to supply Qatar’s large population of expats, which reportedly makes up over four-fifths of the country’s residents. But with alcohol sales already planning to be “more restricted” than previous World Cups for the 2022 event, this new tax would seem to hint that Qatar isn’t looking to pander to international sports fans with a major relaxation in rules anytime soon.