The cheapest beer in Qatar - and what locals are expecting from the World Cup

The FIFA World Cup will see thousands of fans travel to Qatar, prompting fears of a potential clash of cultures. Picture: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The FIFA World Cup will see thousands of fans travel to Qatar, prompting fears of a potential clash of cultures. Picture: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chris Garvey is a 64-year-old Englishman who manages the popular Shamrock Tavern in Doha.

With so much conjecture, controversy and discussion over Qatar hosting the World Cup, Yahoo Sport Australia puts some key questions to someone who knows the place inside out.

YSA: Chris, let's get the important question out of the way first. How much will a beer set football fans back at the Shamrock?

CS: Cheap and beer in Qatar are not words that sit together. Rent is high and alcohol is expensive. A pint of draught beer will cost just under 50 Qatari rial (around $20 AUD) but it's 30 per cent off at the Shamrock during happy hour.

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YSA: Why is booze so expensive?

CS: Alcohol is expensive here by design. Naturally there is nothing brewed here or in any neighbouring countries. It’s all imported from afar, which adds extra costs. Then it’s only hotels or sporting venues (like the golf club for example) that operate bars, restaurants and clubs.

YSA: What is the atmosphere like just a day out from the World Cup kick-off?

CS: The teams have arrived, the fans are gathering in their numbers and I think FIFA and Qatar have put in place the potential for an exciting competition. But I understand the high cost of flights, accommodation and, for those who love to drink, the high cost of beer etc has kept them away. It’s kept many of my friends from coming, which is a shame.

I’m just a bar manager here, I’m not talking from any high-ranking position, so I understand it’s not for everyone who has to be careful with their pennies. I hope it’s a massive success.

The drinks menu for the Shamrock Tavern on Doha, which is managed by Chris Garvey. Prices are listed in Qatari rial. Picture: Supplied
The drinks menu for the Shamrock Tavern on Doha, which is managed by Chris Garvey. Prices are listed in Qatari rial. Picture: Supplied

YSA: Will local authorities turn a blind eye to overseas fans getting a bit lively?

CS: People do get in various stages of intoxication here. Generally speaking the authorities leave people to their own devices and only get involved if there is a fight or a taxi driver doesn’t get paid. They have around one police officer for every 100 fans here to deal with any situation that may occur. The word from up high is tolerance will be the approach.

YSA: A lot has been made of the working conditions for those employed to help build the World Cup arenas. What have you made of it?

CS: For sure there have been accidents. I’ve often looked out of whatever air-conditioned building I was in and felt sorry for the guys out working in the heat. While it’s far from perfect from what we in developed countries would expect to see, for many workers it really is an option that’s almost essential for those with no other countries willing to even give them a chance of a visa and potential for a better life.

YSA: What's the feedback from workers you know?

CS: They are happy to be here because they can send money home to their families. I don’t mean to sound all positive here like I’m wearing rose-coloured Qatar spectacles, but I can from experience say people from many countries are desperate to come here to take these positions in full knowledge of what they are coming to, as are their families.

They have said to me if Qatar, Saudi or other Emirates states didn’t give them work, they would have nowhere else to earn money. I’m sure you can find others here with a different take on what I’m saying, I can only speak from experience and what I see for myself.

YSA: How do the locals feel about their country hosting a World Cup?

CS: There is divided opinion. Some think it’s going to be dreadful for their country as they are a fairly conservative nation. Others think it's a massive boost that will help put Qatar on the international map. As a long-term resident here, it’s been great in pushing the country forward with the whole infrastructure and continuing modernisation. It really is a country of significance in many ways, not least architecturally. It gets bad press from many groups that believe it should be more like their own country (especially developed European countries). But it really is a young country in modern terms and sure they have a long way to go in tackling these international issues, should they choose to.

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