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Qatar World Cup 2022: Alcohol to be allowed 19 hours a day at festival venue

Football fans can buy alcohol from 10am to 5am every day at the month-long Arcadia Spectacular electronic music festival
The Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, one of the main venues for the Qatar World Cup, on 29 September 2022 (Reuters)

Qatar will allow spectators at the World Cup 2022 to drink alcohol for up to 19 hours a day, but only at a venue that will be hosting a month-long music festival.

This year's World Cup is the first to be held in a Muslim-majority country, with strict controls on alcohol presenting unique challenges for organisers of an event sponsored by major beer brand Budweiser and often associated with beer-drinking fans.

Organisers have previously confirmed that alcohol will be served in select areas within stadiums, starting three hours before kick-off and one hour after the final whistle, but not during matches, and at the official Fifa fan zone from 6:30pm to 1am.

At previous World Cup tournaments, beer was served in fan zones all day long.

Fans will, however, be allowed to consume alcohol from 10am to 5am every day at the Arcadia Spectacular electronic music festival, which will feature an enormous fire-breathing spider at centre stage, The Athletic reported Thursday.

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The event, which has a capacity for around 15,000, will host internationally renowned artists and DJs, with World Cup organisers expecting it to draw some 200,000 fans.

While Qatar is not a "dry" state like neighbouring Saudi Arabia, consuming alcohol in public places is illegal.

Alcohol can be bought at a number of licensed hotels and clubs, where a pint of beer can cost $18.

The price of beer inside the fan zones and close to the stadium has not yet been agreed, but a source told Reuters in July that alcohol prices will be capped in the fan zones.

As Qatar gets ready to host more than one million football fans from around the world, authorities are also preparing to show flexibility for fans committing minor offences such as drunkenness and public disorder, Reuters reported, quoting a western diplomat.

However, Doha has not yet released an official announcement of the plan, and what minor infringements would receive leniency. 

The World Cup kicks off on 20 November, with Qatar playing Ecuador in the opening match.

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