Qatar has reduced its beer prices following widespread concern by soccer fans about alcohol costs at the 2022 World Cup.
The government instituted a “sin tax” on alcohol over the New Year that almost doubled the price of a 24-pack of Heineken.
There were reports of a case of beer costing as much as $150.
However, Bloomberg reports the nation’s sole alcohol supplier, the Qatar Distribution Company, is now offering beer for about $US64 a case.
Qatar restricts alcohol sales to non-Muslim foreigners, with expats needing permission from their employers to get a license that allows them access to the sole store in Doha that sells liquor.
Earlier this week, concerns were raised about Qatar’s ability to quench the thirst of football fans at World Cup 2022 as it struggled to maintain beer supplies.
The Sun reported that that Qatar Distribution Company, failed to deliver barrels of Heineken, Stella and Guinness in the city for the past two weeks without explanation.
An expat pilot said: “It’s unbelievable. Everywhere is running out. The government seem determined to stop everyone drinking or having fun. If this isn’t sorted they’ll be hosting the most miserable World Cup ever.”
A barman at the W Hotel confirmed: “It’s a national shortage.”
One at the Doha Sheraton added: “QDC have not told us why. We are trying to get in more bottled beers but for now our stocks are dry.”
The Sun reported The Marriott and Intercontinental were also running out.
Last year, tournament organisers assured soccer fans that it would relax its laws on the consumption of alcohol during the World Cup.
Hassan Al Thawadi, head of Qatar’s World Cup 2022 committee, told Russia Today: “Let’s address the elephant in the room – alcohol. Alcohol will be served, it just won’t be served in public places, in the streets and so on, but there will be designated areas, open areas where people will be able to have alcohol.
“It’s a different culture, it’s not a restrictive culture as people think it might be.”
How Qatar’s beer prices, availability and laws will affect sponsorship of the World Cup remains to be seen.
Budweiser has been the official beer sponsor of the tournament for the past 32 years and is already planning its campaign for 2022.