“We are English, we will find” … On the beer route in Doha
From our Special Envoy in Doha,
You have to imagine the two swinging doors painted gray-black at the exit of the 7th floor of a hotel in Doha, stamped with the name “Rock City”, written in a gothic font to emphasize the cliché. Behind, a desk. Still in the back, a woman wearing a suit, of the fierce type. Rock City is a bar where the alcohol flows freely, and you don’t walk through the mill. “Your Qatari phone number and your passport. We hold it out, she scans it, like at the airport. Getting into the affair isn’t too hot, so you’ll miss the sly bouncers of Parisian nightclubs.
Inside, there is nothing abnormal, except for the somewhat outdated decor, very Las Vegas, very nouveau riche, in short, very Qatar. But the main thing is there: a giant screen on which World Cup matches are broadcast and a wide selection of alcoholic beverages. Everyone is there. Whiskey, cocktail, vodka, by the glass or in the bottle at ridiculously expensive prices – count 400 euros for an 18-year-old Chivas – due to the 100% “sin” tax. We will choose beer, the lost sesame of this Mondial 2022. 12 euros per pint. It is much, much, even. But a euro less than rare FIFA zones escape the plot twist of selling alcohol around stadiums, such as the Corniche Fan Festival.
“We’re English, we’re always looking for beer”
Arriving from Kenya a year and a half ago, Jack provides security around the Budweiser stand, which opens at 6:30 pm (rather 45 that day). Because of the docile nature of the crowd, his work really comes from the envy of customers. “I like to get one in secret every now and then, but have you seen the prices? It’s beyond my means. So he savors with his eyes the foam that proudly protrudes from the goblets and watches the lips that she will soon become pregnant. Most of them are English. “They, if they don’t drink, get sick, he laughs. But you have to go to the match nights to understand. Today they are not there. »
They are found even less in the “sane” areas of the Corniche or the souk. After investigation, we found out that they often hang out at the Arcadia Electronic Festival, towards Al Wakra (south of Doha), where we also find the Three Lions hotel. And beers. Adam and Emily, a young English couple, took out a three-day pass for the event, where the hops flow from 10am to 5am. “They can ban anything they want, we’re English, we’ll always find beer. »
This self-sacrifice is named after John, whose improbable wine hunt ended in a sheikh’s palace. “He showed us his lions, his monkeys, his birds, said the star one night. They really made us feel. To think, we might have avoided such a fate by kindly refusing to ride in the car of a Qatari in the previous report. The man, in his forties, promised to show us an area full of bars “not far from the 974 stadium”.
The booze treasure map of Doha
Not every beer-drinking hero has a cape. And not all of them are wealthy Qatari heirs. Not all of them are from here. Ed Ball, for example, is American. This aerospace salesman returned home to Seattle on December 2, leaving behind a map of bars where you can drink alcohol in Doha. The company started two months before the World Cup grew on the eve of the tournament under the effect of the ban around the stadiums.
“In the beginning, I had a list of 20 to 30 places, he tells us. I knew there were more. So I researched all the hotels in Doha. From there, I went to each website one by one, looking for bars and restaurant that sells alcohol. It took more than 100 hours to make this map with only me as the administrator. »
His alcoholic One Piece has surpassed half a million views, enough to earn you a thank you along the way. “I have good feedback from Mexicans, Australians, Welsh and English. »
One place that neither Ed nor the bravest of Brits can get to is called the Qatar Distribution Company, better known as QDC. It is the sole importer and distributor of alcohol in Qatar. A giant surface surrounded by barbed wire where wine and pork are sold subject to a permit granted by the State and an annual contribution, with a ban on consuming the products elsewhere than at home or exceeding the monthly ceiling of 520 euros. This prime location is restricted to Qatari residents, although access is extended to World Cup sponsors, members of competing national teams and the media. The process remains dissuasive. QDC will refer us to FIFA to arrange a simple visit. For lack of time, we will resign.
The benefits of World Zero
Back to the fanfest. After leaving Jack to his drinking dreams, we come across an English supporter sitting alone on a paved block. He relies on friends and seems to have given up on the idea of a boozy World Cup. “I’m always drunk before the games, around the stadium. I’ll be there a few hours before that, because that’s part of the thing. There, I had to drink and go to the stadium at the last minute to get drunk in the first half. It doesn’t make sense. So I don’t drink. And basically, it’s not bad. Because it’s different. »
Without alcohol, would the party be even crazier? More peaceful, in any case, according to a theory trending on the streets of Doha and on the networks. Mark Roberts, head of Britain’s Football Police, praised the commendable behavior of England and Wales fans and said he had not documented any arrests or incidents with those fans. But the latter wanted to be careful on the issue of alcohol. “It is a mistake to completely associate good behavior with restrictions on alcohol, but I think it has helped to some extent. Far be it from us to glorify alcohol, but it is difficult to imagine that the English celebrate the second star with Bud zero. So we have a deal to offer them: lose Saturday to find this beloved beer. Blues’ half, theirs the pint.