In an interesting move, Qatar, a country with more than 95% Muslim population and located in the Middle East, has announced to accommodate homosexual couples and transgender fans in the upcoming football world cup in 2022. This is a major step a conservative Muslim state has taken in modern history in order to attract a greater number of foreign fans to watch the event and visit Qatar.
“I would like to assure any fan, of any gender, (sexual) orientation, religion, race to rest assured that Qatar is one of safest countries in the world – and they’ll all be welcome here,” said chief executive of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Nasser al-Khater. Mr. al-Khater was responding to media questions about the position of transgender fans who might want to attend the World Cup but are unclear what legal and human rights protections they will have.
While responding to a question that how Qataris may react to a gay couple holding hands, Al-Khater insisted they would not be treated any differently from any other couple or individual. “I will put it another way: a public display of affection is frowned upon,” he added. “It’s not part of our culture. But that goes across the board to everybody.” It is worth noting that LGBT issues are like in other Gulf countries sensitive in Qatar.
There are some reports which claim that a deal is about to be signed which may allow alcohol and other eatables for the foreigners.
A website that carried out a story in 2016 by an anonymous Qatari author about being gay, later went briefly offline in the emirate. There was considerable public backlash. Such actions are considered a threat to Islamic culture and Qatari values being practiced by the majority of the people.
Moreover, there are some reports which claim that a deal is about to be signed which may allow alcohol and other eatables for the foreigners. The Qatari government is also expected to offer subsidy on alcohol.
Al-Khater has acknowledged that the price of the alcohol was high which needed to be reviewed. “We recognize there is an issue with the price and it is something we are looking into. We are looking at finding ways to reduce the price of alcohol,” he said.
As per details, a pint of beer in Doha, where most matches will be played, typically costs around £10 because of sin taxes in the Muslim country. However, organizers expect to announce cheaper alcohol prices soon.
Fans should respect local culture
Al-Khater further believes that Qatar is willing to offer all possible facilities to everybody visiting the country to watch the upcoming world cup but people should, says Al-Khater, take care of the local culture and value system. “Alcohol is not part of our culture. However, hospitality is.
Alcohol is not as readily available here as in other parts of the world but for the World Cup we want to ensure it is accessible for fans who want to have a drink, so we are trying to find designated locations for fans to have alcohol, other than traditional places such as hotels and so forth,” he elaborated.
Since Qatar is a Muslim majority country where Sharia is considered to be the source of law there are Islamic punishments for many crimes. Consumption of alcohol is a crime in Qatar and anyone who is caught in this business has to face the courts and severe punishment. However, unlike many other Muslim countries, Qatar is willing to accommodate foreigners even at the cost of local culture and domestic laws.
While speaking to the international media, Al-Khater expressed his reservations over the behavior of England’s fans. He said England fans would have to abide by the law and conceded he was worried by the anti-social behavior of some supporters at the Nations League in Portugal.
He maintained that the country’s administration expects foreigners to be acquainted with the local laws so that there is no confusion about them. “We are also going to expect people to get acquainted with our norms and our culture and our laws,” he continued.
Tournament organisers in Qatar have said alcohol will be available for fans in designated areas, but not in public spaces, out of respect for the country's traditionshttps://t.co/LfIUXDeWko
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) January 1, 2019
“And whatever happens in the middle is where we need to make sure it is dealt with in the most appropriate way to make sure it’s a World Cup where everybody feels welcome – and that nobody feels they are in any way intimidated or threatened, whether it’s over religion or gender, across the board, for everybody.”
As a matter of fact, many foreigners have recently been punished in Qatar for breaching the local laws. It drew international criticism on Qatar and its criminal justice system. But now the government is working to improve its tourism industry which demands certain exemption for the foreigners.