Qatar wants to make alcohol accessible to foreign fans traveling to the 2022 World Cup and will use cruise ships to guarantee accommodation for a million visitors, the head of the organizing committee said Thursday.
Nasser Al Khater, CEO of World Cup 2022, also said homosexuals will have nothing to fear if they visit the country.
Qatar took over the World Cup in the 2010 vote and is by far the smallest country to host the event, raising questions about how it will handle the influx of fans.
“Qatar is a conservative country, a modest country, alcohol is not part of our culture. But hospitality is,” Al Khater told a group of journalists.
“For the World Cup, we want to make sure that (alcohol) is accessible to foreigners who want to have a drink while they are here, so we want to find designated places for fans to have alcohol, in addition to the traditional places.
So far, FIFA and the local organisers have only said that they had not reached an agreement on whether alcohol would be served in stadiums or fan zones.
Al Khater said the country of 2.7 million would also consider lowering the price of beer, which currently stands at about $15 a pint.
“The issue of the cost of alcohol is something that is being discussed,” he said. “We recognize that there is a problem with price.
Alcohol in Qatar can only be bought and consumed in a handful of hotels, while visitors cannot import it into the country. Being drunk in a public place is socially unacceptable.
Al Khater said homosexuals had nothing to fear in a country where homosexual acts are strictly prohibited, although the law is rarely enforced.
“Public displays of affection are frowned upon here, but that applies to everyone,” he said. “I would like to assure any supporter of any gender orientation, religion or race that he or she is at ease. Qatar is one of the safest countries in the world and everyone is welcome.
While not seeing a high risk of vandalism, Al Khater said having fans from 32 teams in a small area could lead to altercations and added that Qatar is looking for “unique housing solutions,” including cruise ships and villages in the desert.