With the FIFA World Cup quickly approaching in November, football fans from all over the world are planning their trips to Qatar to join in with the celebrations. Although there is plenty of fun to be had, Qatar is an Islamic country and local traditions should be respected and abided by at all times.
VegasSlotsOnline has researched the laws most commonly broken by British visitors and has provided advice on how to remain compliant during your visit. Failure to comply can lead to an Administrative Deportation order, hefty fine or even jail time, so here are 10 tips to bear in mind at all times.
Stay Away From Drugs
Drug use is not tolerated in Qatar and punishments of any drug related offenses are severe, ranging from heavy fines all the way to lengthy custodial sentences. When you arrive in the country, the advanced security technology scans for any sign of illegal substances and even the smallest amounts can lead to an arrest. If you are bringing prescription medication along, it is worth checking that they are not considered controlled substances in Qatar as this will require an official document from your GP.
Don’t Drink Alcohol in Public
In Qatar, drinking alcohol or being drunk in public is a criminal offense and can result in being detained for disorderly or offensive behavior. If you are caught drinking in a public space, it could result in a prison sentence of up to 6 months and/or a fine of over £600 ($779). If you do plan on enjoying alcohol on your visit, this can be done so in licensed hotel restaurants and bars and you must be above 21 years of age.
Avoid Offensive Behavior
Although this should be common courtesy, especially when living among other cultures, offensive behavior can be seen as criminal in Qatar. Swearing and making rude gestures can actually lead to jail or deportation as they are considered obscene acts. This is especially important when dealing with the authorities as police officers and officials take offensive behavior very seriously.
Abide By Photography Rules
As much as we all love to snap photos to remember certain moments of our trip, many areas of Qatar are no photography zones and failure to comply may result in imprisonment. Common places which do not permit photography include religious areas, military sites and construction zones but if you are unsure, it is worth seeking permission. As you are out and about, be aware of cultural sensitivities when filming or photographing people and if you decide to post images online, ensure that it does not go against local privacy laws.
Don’t Import Illegal Goods
As well as the obvious of avoiding bringing drugs, alcohol and pornography into the country, it is also illegal to import pork products and religious material into Qatar. All luggage is thoroughly checked and any suspicious quantities will also be investigated. The sale of things like electronic cigarettes, liquids and electronic shisha pipes is prohibited so these may be seized if customs officials suspect misuse.
Comply With Dress Codes
Dressing modestly in Qatar is a necessity when you are in public as it is an Islamic country that follows traditional practices. Both men and women should avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless tops or you may be denied entry to healthcare facilities, shopping malls and official buildings. This is especially important during the month of Ramadan.
No Relationships Without Marriage
Sharing a moment with your partner can actually lead to an arrest if you are in a public space. Qatar is strict on unmarried couples and prevents sex and living with a partner unless you tie the knot. This is legally enforced, meaning perpetrators risk arrest, fines and deportation. The LGBT community also have to be particularly careful when visiting the country as any same sex intimacy is illegal and frowned upon in the culture.
Avoid Financial Crimes
Fraud is taken very seriously in Qatar and issues like failure to pay bills and bouncing cheques can result in imprisonment, a fine and deportation. On top of this, your bank account may get frozen which would leave you in a tricky situation overseas. If you try to leave the country without having paid off any debts or loans, you will be faced with a travel ban and prevented from leaving until it is settled.
No Phones at the Gym
Although you may never normally question bringing your phone in the gym with you to play some music or message your friends, this is forbidden in Qatar and all devices with a camera are expected to be handed over at the door. In gyms which are used by women, they remove their veils and abayas and change into more practical exercise clothing so photography is not acceptable. You may even be screened to ensure you have no hidden cameras.
Place Your Bets in Advance
Gambling is considered offensive in the Islamic culture and any form of online gambling activity is strictly prohibited across the country. If you are somebody who likes to place bets, it is best to do this before traveling to Qatar and gambling within your own country where you are familiar with the regulations. More traditional forms of gambling are loosely accepted in Qatar and there are some flaws in the system which allow people to place bets without breaking the law but it is recommended to stay clear, especially if you are a visitor without a clear idea of the regulations.
Failure To Comply:
If you visit the country and go against their laws, they take their punishments very seriously and you can find yourself facing serious consequences. From expensive fines to long term prison sentences and death sentences, here are some of the penalties enforced from breaking the main rules:
Drug use is heavily prohibited in Qatar and if you are caught in possession, you face some severe penalties. Offenders are met with heavy fines which can cost over £42,000 ($54,000) which will be followed by deportation or potentially even long-term imprisonment. The trafficking of illegal drugs is an even more serious criminal offense and could even carry a possible death sentence.
If you are caught drinking alcohol in a public space, authorities do not take the offense lightly and you will be met with a fine of up to £630 ($800). Breaking the law further and attempting to open a store or sell alcohol from your home can lead to imprisonment for up to six months plus an additional fine.
Although genuine mistakes are common, intentionally taking photographs or video clips in a public place with the intention of offending or defaming is taken very seriously and is covered by the law. The offense is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment and a fine which can cost you up to £2,100 ($2,700).
Being a highly religious country, the dress-code law is taken very seriously and not abiding by the rules can result in punishments predicted by the penal code. With so many tourists arriving to the country without prior research, a campaign was launched back in 2012 to warn foreign travelers about the public decency laws so they can pack accordingly.