On November 20th, the men's football World Cup will start in Qatar. Until December 18th, 32 teams will fight for the title. Before the sporting competition was held, many did not have the country on their radar as a travel destination. But if you don't want to miss the games and want to travel to Qatar, you should know a few important things about the country and the people.
Qatar has been criticized primarily because of the poor human rights situation. Homosexual acts are strictly forbidden in the country. Up to seven years in prison can be threatened. It is an Islamic country, people with a different religious belief are sometimes persecuted and discriminated against. In addition, women are disadvantaged and men have to ask permission for many things. They are usually not free to decide who they want to marry or what job they want to do.
What is also criticized: guest workers were brought into the country to build the football stadiums and the infrastructure in general. But the human rights organization Amnesty International has sharply criticized the working conditions. Amnesty International writes that they are said to have been forced to work "to the point of complete exhaustion" and sometimes not paid their salaries. It is not known exactly how many workers were injured or died on the construction sites. The British “Guardian” already spoke in a 2021 report of 6,500 deaths since the World Cup was awarded.
The Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al Thani (42), has declared that all people are welcome at the World Cup - including homosexuals. But the human rights organization Human Rights Watch has now warned against traveling to the country as a homosexual person or member of the LGBTQ community.
There is a high risk that showing same-sex love "will be punished," Wenzel Michalski, director of Human Rights Watch Germany, told Sky. It doesn't matter what assurances Qatar made. "Qatar isn't governed by the rule of law. You can't sue for anything." The measures are tough. The official World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman (60) described homosexuality as "mental damage" (originally: "damage in the mind") in an interview as part of the ZDF documentary "Geheimsache Qatar". The "heute-journal" had already shown the scene in advance. If you still want to travel to the country as a homosexual, you should be very careful.
You don't need proof of vaccination or a negative corona test to come to the country during the World Cup. The Federal Foreign Office recommends that you take out additional health insurance. No mask has to be worn in public transport in Qatar, only the mouth and nose should be covered in health facilities.
Public transport in Qatar is limited. There are three metro lines in the capital, Doha. One of them connects the airport with the city center. According to the Foreign Office, the bus lines are not very reliable. It is therefore best to take a taxi or hire a car. But be careful: risky and fast driving behavior is the order of the day here. Whoever causes an accident should never leave the scene of the accident - this is forbidden.
Especially as a woman you should pay attention to your choice of clothes. In general, covered knees are recommended, so leave the shorts at home. Transparent and off-the-shoulder tops are also not welcomed in Qatar. When bathing on the beach, also study the dress code beforehand, as a rule, bikinis are not a problem at the hotel pool. However, skinny dipping or lying topless in the sun is usually prohibited.
Even the exchange of tenderness, i.e. a hug or a kiss, is not welcomed. According to Islamic ideas, such things do not belong in the public domain. Especially not if you're not married. Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is even a criminal offence. It can also happen that as a woman you are refused a handshake - especially by men. Because it is not common for men to touch women who are not part of their family.
Fans also have to keep a few things in mind when it comes to alcohol. Because the serving is only limited to bars, restaurants and certain hotels. Importation of alcohol, intoxication or consumption in public are prohibited. You must also be at least 21 years old to drink alcohol. You should also plan some money for it, because a beer can cost up to 15 euros.
But there are also exceptions to the World Cup - alcohol should be served before and after the games on the stadium grounds. In the stadium itself, fans will probably have to adjust to the non-alcoholic alternative. But there is said to be a fan zone in Doha where beer is offered in the evenings. Anyone who has had a drink too deep can go to specially designed areas to sober up.