Thursday, January 17, 2008

T.G.I. ...T?

Yes- it's Thursday night- that means the start of the weekend here folks (weekends are Friday/Saturday- with Friday being the holy day). Takes a little getting use but hey- weekends are weekends no matter when they occur. Last weekend, Denny Roberts (my friend and fellow Fifth Year Scholar Darbi's father- both their blogs are linked here), Qatar Foundation Assistant Vice President for Faculty and Student Services, invited me to join him at a dinner with some of the organizer's from Education City's LeaderShape retreat. We had some great Indian food and it was nice to meet folks from around EC and ease my cultural awkwardness.

Afterwards I found myself at a house party of my downstairs neighbor, Meredith from Cornell's Qatar campus. She had a birthday party for a friend and invited me to come. Thank goodness she did, because the party certainly wasn't a quiet affair- had everything from blasting music to jell-o shots. So you might be wondering about the liquor and jell-o. Yes, both alcohol and pork are prohibited in this country- you cannot import either, even for personal consumption. That being said- there are government controlled shops and hotel bars that permit the sale of alcohol to expats. To purchase at the shop you need a liquor permit and can only purchase so much at a time. (I won't get one because I'm not applying for a residency permit). [I found out later, that the liquor allowance is quite generous- you can purchase up to 10% of your monthly salary. That's a lot of hooch.] Drunk driving is a horrible idea and can get you deported- even appearing intoxicated publicly will be severely punished. So- yes, you can get it. Now for the jell-o...perhaps it's halal gelatin? (halal is food permissible by Islam). I don't know the answer to that one.

As I mentioned- the other place to purchase alcohol is in Western hotels- but for a pretty penny. I'm about to head out the door to meet two professors from school at the Cigar Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel on the Corniche. I'll see for myself about the price of the drinks- perhaps I'll just stick with the mixed juice. :)

Update: The bill was QR 50 [US$13.75] (QR 60 [US$16.50] with the 17% service fee) for my one Caipirinha. So...basically chic urban prices? À la NYC or Chicago? Still doesn't encourage me to run out and drink- which probably isn't a bad thing. Related note: even though the drivers are crazy here- it is somewhat comforting to know that odds are very slim that the guy swerving next to you is drunk. A small comfort, I know.


  1. The gelatin sold here is synthetic, and you're right QDC is a MUCH better option for alcohol. And its not hard to hit up a friend with a license. :) Welcome to Doha.

  2. There's no shortage of generous folks with alcohol licenses, that's for sure. :)

    I finally checked a package of gelatin desert here and it specifically said 'beef gelatin'- so that appears to be how they can have it here. When I pass the candy aisle I casually look over the packages looking for jelly candies (I can be a Haribo fiend)- but thought they wouldn't have them for a similar reason. I'll look a little closer next time.

  3. *dessert.
    I can spell.