Stay Out of Jail at the Qatar FIFA World Cup by Complying With These 10 Rules

  • Drug use is not tolerated in Qatar, with drug trafficking even carrying a death sentence
  • Sadly for drink-mad soccer fans, no alcohol is allowed in public areas in the Arab country
  • A romantic moment with a partner could end in arrest, with no relationships pre-marriage
  • Online gambling is strictly prohibited in Qatar, considered offensive in Islamic culture
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 logo
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off in Qatar this November, and VSO News has compiled a list of 10 rules to keep fans out of jail in the strict Arab nation. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A historic World Cup

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup quickly approaching, soccer fans from all over the world are gearing up for one of the biggest events of the year! This year’s world cup is scheduled to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18, bringing together 32 different teams from across the globe.

As the first World Cup ever held in an Arab nation, it is a significant event for the culture that is bound to go down in history. As many soccer fans plan their trips to Qatar to join in with the celebrations, the scale of the sporting event is expected to provide great benefit to the nation from a tourism perspective.

Qatar is an Islamic country where local traditions must be respected

Although there is plenty of fun to be had, Qatar is an Islamic country where local traditions must be respected and abided by at all times. Generally, the culture is very accepting of tourists and western ways, but this does not mean that they tolerate disrespectful behavior that goes against their beliefs.

From placing any bets using the best online casinos from your home country before you leave to ensuring any prescription medication is approved in the nation, there is a lot to consider before flying out to Qatar. It is important to familiarize yourself with these main rules so you are aware of what to avoid whilst visiting.

VegasSlotsOnline News has pulled together a list of the top ten things you should stay clear of during your trip to keep out of trouble and avoid the consequences of breaking their laws. From hefty fines to serious jail sentences, the punishments can be severe for actions you may not even know are forbidden in Qatar.

The Top 10 Rules

  1. Stay Away From Drugs

Drug use is not tolerated in Qatar and punishments for 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.

  1. 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 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.

  1. Avoid Offensive Behavior

Although this should be common courtesy, especially when living among other cultures, offensive behavior can be seen as criminal in Qatar.

police officers and officials take offensive behavior very seriously

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

same-sex intimacy is illegal and frowned upon

The LGBT community also has to be particularly careful when visiting the country as any same-sex intimacy is illegal and frowned upon in the culture.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 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.

  1. 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 Qatar and transgress any laws covered in the VSO News infographic, you can find yourself facing serious consequences. From expensive fines to long jail terms and even death sentences, here are some of the penalties enforced for breaking the main rules:

  • Drugs

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 $54,000 (£42,000) which will be followed by deportation or potentially even long-term imprisonment.

a possible death sentence

The trafficking of illegal drugs is an even more serious criminal offense and could even carry a possible death sentence.

  • Alcohol

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 $800 (£630) 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.

  • Photography/media

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 $2,700 (£2,100).

  • Dress code

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.

Controversy surrounding host

The announcement that the 2022 FIFA World Cup would go ahead in Qatar caused controversy in the sporting world. Concerns have ranged from fear about the political instability in the region to the alcohol ban which doesn’t align with the popular drinking culture among soccer fans.

FIFA even released a statement claiming that it was trying to work around the alcohol ban, but the strict policies of the Qatari government mean this is unlikely to budge.

Even if the Islamic religion prevents visitors to the country from partaking in activities they would otherwise enjoy during the celebrations, tournament chief Hassan Al-Thawadi has described any criticism as “ill-informed.” He labeled Qatar a “football-loving region” and refused to apologize for wanting to showcase the country’s benefits to the world.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the event, in November fans will have the chance to immerse themselves into a completely new culture. As long as the rules of the country are respected and followed, Qatar is a spectacular nation brimming with history, stunning beaches, and friendly locals who will be more than willing to help you enjoy your stay.