Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pigs do fly

There is only one place for a resident of Qatar to obtain intoxicating beverages to enjoy in the comfort and privacy of his own home. This is through the auspices of the Qatar Distribution Company, a kind of cross between an off-licence and a members-only club. It will come as no surprise at all to learn that, in accordance with the law of the land, Muslims are not allowed to be members.

Back in the olden days, Cable and Wireless somehow managed to obtain permission to import booze for sale to C&W employees. Other thirsty expatriates wondered why they weren’t allowed to avail themselves of this largesse and, to cut a long story short, the booze permit system was extended to all non-Muslim expatriates and administered by the British embassy. With an allocated weekday and a fixed maximum QAR500 allowance, going up to the C&W Syndicate once a month became something of an institution.

It has always been the case that the liquor permit system allows the bearer to acquire beverages up to a cost limit, and then to transport it directly to his residence for his sole consumption. Selling it, giving it away, or taking an Eski of refreshing hop-flavoured thirst-quencher to the beach are all strictly forbidden.

In due course, the Syndicate was taken over by the new Qatar Distribution Company, a branch of Doha Duty Free and therefore ultimately part of Qatar Airways. Allowances were doubled overnight, as were prices, so that the cost of alcoholic liquor aligned broadly with UK high street prices. The monthly allowance is now based on an individual’s salary.

Last week, the QDC quietly introduced an additional line of products that would not interest Muslims. Bacon and sausages. Proper ones, made of flat-nosed, curly-tailed haraminal. Apparently, plans are afoot to increase the range to hams and proper pork joints once the freezer space is available. And as a hog-gobbling infidel I say huzzah to this! Up until now, Qatar has been a pig-free zone, apart from the occasional pack of “Egyptian Veal” or “Turkey Burgers” flown in from Dubai or further afield. Now the bacon and sausages are flying in courtesy of Qatar Airways. I’m quite happy to purchase the products supplied by the State of Qatar, and then to take home and enjoy those same products.

Within a day of the news breaking, the Qatar Living website had multiple pages of forum comments, getting progressively more extreme. Such as:

“You shall not eat the flesh of swine.”

“But that only applies to Muslims, and my having a bacon butty doesn’t affect your beliefs.”

“But this is a Muslim country.”

“Then take it up with the Emir and his state airline.”

By the time I got to QDC this evening, the speciality sausages and all the bacon had vanished, and the freezers were resplendent with hundreds of identical packets of ordinary, bog-standard bangers. This is exactly as predicted by pretty much everyone. I like billy-basic bangers, so this isn’t actually a hardship, but a delight.

Being able to buy pork and booze in the UAE has not caused the complete collapse of civilization, as far as I know. It surely shouldn’t be any different in Qatar. I feel that the situation is a little like the idea of gay marriage. You may or may not approve, but if you don’t want one, don’t have one.


No comments:


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.