A tongue-in-cheek social media campaign has been launched by the British Embassy in Doha, with a serious underlying message warning expat Brits not to get too carried away with their holiday celebrations.
Using the theme of the traditional song The Twelve Days of Christmas, the embassy has been posting daily tweets and Facebook messages advising the 20,000 British expats in Qatar to make sure that their fun remains within the law. Otherwise, they caution, individuals run the risk of arrest or a hefty fine.
The messages, which started a few days behind schedule on Dec. 4, echo a similar campaign launched last year by the British missions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi warning residents in the UAE to remain on good behavior.
The Doha-based embassy’s messages have been received with bemusement and confusion by some. Others have mocked the simplistic nature of the campaign.
However, the aim of the campaign is to help revelers from falling foul of Qatar’s laws and facing the potentially serious consequences.
Over the Christmas period last year, the Embassy’s consular section was called in to help out 15 nationals who had got into trouble, a spokeswoman told Doha News.
This makes up a significant portion of the total number of 25 arrests and 11 hospitalizations of Britons in Qatar between December 1 2013 and December 1 2014.
Perhaps following stereotypes of Brits abroad, many of whom traditionally like to indulge in festive cheer, the theme of the first four messages has been alcohol-related and connects with to the Drinkaware campaign which advises safe alcohol consumption and is prominent in the UK at this time of year.
The wise words of advice include reminders of Qatar’s zero-tolerance for drinking and driving, that the legal age of drinking alcohol is 21 years old and that residents need a liquor permit from Qatar Distribution Co. in order to legally buy alcohol outside of licensed restaurants and bars.
On the 1st day of #Christmas the #BritishEmbassy said to me; You can be arrested for being under the influence of alcohol. #drinkaware
— UK in Qatar 🇬🇧🇶🇦 (@ukinqatar) December 4, 2014
On the 2nd day of #Christmas consular said to me; If you do not have a liquor license and are resident, apply for one today! #drinkaware
— UK in Qatar 🇬🇧🇶🇦 (@ukinqatar) December 5, 2014
On the 3rd day of #Christmas the police said to me; Don’t drink and drive, there is zero tolerance in Qatar #zerotolerance #Qatar
— UK in Qatar 🇬🇧🇶🇦 (@ukinqatar) December 6, 2014
On the 4th day of #Christmas the #lawyer said to me; The legal age for drinking alcohol is 21! #drinkaware #Qatar
— UK in Qatar 🇬🇧🇶🇦 (@ukinqatar) December 7, 2014
The Embassy has also distributed Christmas postcards at some social events around town, which are more serious in tone and carry a number of safety messages, including to never travel alone after dark, not leave drinks unattended and maintaining good behavior when in public.
“Respecting the customs of our host country” is reflected in the tone of the fifth day of Christmas tweet, posted yesterday, which effectively tells expats to leave the skimpy, black party dress in the back of the closet:
On the 5th day of #Christmas my Qatari Friend said to me; Please dress with respect for our culture #Qatar #respect
— UK in Qatar 🇬🇧🇶🇦 (@ukinqatar) December 8, 2014
The public modesty push echoes the dress campaign Reflect your Respect that regained momentum ahead of Ramadan this year.
A British Embassy spokeswoman told Doha News:
“We are glad our 12 days of Christmas tweets have sparked a debate amongst Doha’s Twitter community. Whether you love them or hate them, we hope that they make people stop and think about the best way to enjoy a safe and happy festive season.
Christmas is a special time for many of us in Doha but it can be a time when people become carried away with the festivities and forget that the culture and laws in Qatar are different to that of the UK.”
According to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office report British Behavior Abroad 2014, Qatar’s Gulf neighbor the UAE is among the top 20 countries in the world where Brits are most likely to require consular assistance.
Between April 2013 and March 2014, the British missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai had to step in to assist in 499 cases, up from 436 the previous year.
There were 261 arrests of British nationals, 75 deaths and 54 cases where Brits were hospitalized over the year.
However, with a British population of around 100,000 residents and 625,000 visitors, the Emirate’s expat community is significantly larger than in Qatar. Qatar does not feature in the report.
Western expats actually stay here over Christmas?
Hard to believe, isn’t it 😉
can you believe… there are Muslims in the west during Ramadan as well… weird!
yes, they work!
Most of them leave. I’d say may be 90%, but there are also many who stay here. When you are a family with 2 or 3 kids and you have just travelled for holidays during the summer it might be a bit costly to travel again for Christmas, especially if it is only the husband who is employed.
Drink all the alcohol you want in your home but please don’t drink and drive and kill innocent people! And you might even kill yourself as well.
Or call a cab, pretty easy with uber regardless of where you are
…….just wondering how many people out here have been run over by drunk drivers rather then by distracted drivers on the phone, or others driving their big vehicles with total disregard for the safety of other road users.
Yes you are right Johnny Wang, in Doha reckless drivers are the number ONE danger on the road for all of us who follow the rules and drive safely. But since this article is about the holiday season and celebrating by drinking excessively by many then I felt like saying that 🙂 because I can’t believe that there are still people who choose to drive while under the influence, it happens A lot in the USA especially among young people.
Just pop into the Oryx Rotana or Raddison Blu and you wills see men in thobes downing alcohol like the best of them, then getting into LCs after a good day, afternoon and night on it to drive home.
The hotel isn’t going to try to stop them. Some of those guys are regulars, and you’ll see them there on any given night, spending hundreds and hundreds on drinks.
Yep I’ve watched them do as they please.
I thought locals weren’t aloud in with the national dress code on..surprising!
Wasta my man wasta.
How can they sell them alcohol when they are Muslims? Alcohol consumption is forbidden in islam, I can’t believe that they’re not only sinning but also driving drunk and putting others in danger! So messed up!
It’s called wasta.
There is a significant amount of alcohol related road incidents but they are not reported in the way they are in other countries. Headlines with drunk driving Muslims doesn’t look good and drink driving Brits would have some local groups in uproar and bilateral pressure. Qatar reports to the UN each year zero alcohol related road deaths, always has, always will. It would be a Pandora’s box to do otherwise.
So true, but seriously when has Qatar ever told the truth to any governing body etc?
Doesn’t matter. It’s all wrong if you affect other people with your own behaviour.
How strange. I was watching BBC News to see what those pesky Brits were up to and there were British born Muslims demanding more rights and some even calling for sharia in the UK! However in Qatar the UK is calling for non Muslims to respect the people of Qatar by keeping their beliefs out of sight! You couldn’t make it up. Does the UK have a Muslim PM these days????
I believe you may have misunderstood the article. I thought the same when I red the title. But I believe it’s just about not going too crazy over Xmas..
I think you misread this article dude. They are just warning you not to be a stupid idiot and go out drinking and driving. Keep all of that within your compound walls. Inside your compound you can run around naked with nothing but a santa hat and be as drunk as you wanna be. Just dont put other peoples life in danger for your momentary fun.
Theres a sight.
The request by the UK mission is to tone down on the excessive consumption of alcohol.
But as a christian who’s celebrating the birth of Jesus, people should know that Alcohol is prohibited in Bible. Just like the Jews & Muslims!
That seems a strange claim to make. Then why did Jesus turn water into wine. Was he a blaspheme against God?
They’re pissing in the wind Shiyan, as we like to say……they have to go through the motions of concern for the expat flock, but in reality, us Brits will get on the sauce as much as ever. It’s what Jesus would have wanted.
strange then that wine is given as the communion?
It’s excessive drinking that’s prohibited if I recall my Sunday School Bible classes correctly
Please share where it says in the Bible alcohol is prohibited to Christians.
If my memory serves me well, I do believe it was Paul who was told in a vision that no food was prohibited to Christians. Hence, by default, what we do with grapes is up to us.
Plus, do you really think the ancient Irish would have accepted Christianity if there was a ban on drink?
Nope, I reckon they scanned that Bible from cover to cover before it passed customs.
St. Paddy to the Irish…
Do you want snakes, or booze?
Lo… History was writ large
Alcohol is not prohibited for Muslims, Allah provides rivers of wine in heaven!
Why would you compare Qatar with the UK. There is no comparison due to plenty of factors. You could make a better comparison between the UK and Lebanon or Bosnia for example. This is not a fair comparison!
Plus, you totally missed the point of the article, as it did not criminalize or ban Christmas celebrations!!!
Twisting matters much!?
I would like to see the police here conduct random breath tests on motorists, because the law says zero tolerance but like everything here it is ignored by some and the police do nothing.
On the random breath tests that should be local and expat as both drink in the bars here and then drive.
I drink. I take a taxi. It’s easy. I don’t put others at risk.
still technically breaking the law by doing that
I’d invite someone to disagree, but as I’ve seen explained many times, having alcohol in your system outside of a hotel or your home is not allowed.
True…I believe you’re expected to slash your veins prior to leaving the premises.
OT: qatar is the place where I finally understood the meaning of white trash. How proud must the Brits be of their embassy…
RE: British Embassy – I refer to previous comments
Haha. You have never been to Uxbridge then.
Not that intu uxbridge I take it?
The old rule is if you’ve taken liquor in a bar or restaurant you should keep the receipt in case you are stopped by the police on your way to your house/accommodation. And of course you should not be driving.
Stopped by police? When did the police start stopping anyone? You mean you’ve seen or heard of them actually doing something?
Correct as is the selling of alcohol, not technically legal
I confess to having great difficulty with the headline – ‘British Embassy carols cautions of excessive festive cheer in Qatar’. Somebody please expalin the nouns and verbs in this?
Agree title as always misleading and misunderstood
Unusual yes, but it seems ‘carol’ can be used as a verb too – to carol – to sing joyously.
“British Embassy sings a caution against excessive festive cheer”!
More money well spent by FCO
Yes I had to re read it a few times. Someone was let loose with a dictionary.
A similar campaign will run throughout Easter next year warning of the excessive consumption of chocolate eggs, especially in public places where it may cause offense.
Have you lost it? or you’re just DRUNK?
Whew!!! What a title – first thought certain “Carols” were banned (like Halloween masks)
So I’ll continue to sing “I’ll have a Blue Xmas without you……I’ll have a blue blue xmas’ …..
Ho ho ho ho
I didnt know Halloween masks were banded. I could have gotten in some serious trouble this past Halloween.
Not just masks, but ‘Halloween Costumes’. The ban led to events being cancelled last year. https://dohanews.co/confusion-after-hotels-announce-last-minute-halloween-costume-ban/
Applaud it…well done Brit Embassy.
Perhaps the other embassies don’t see any need to issue such advisories as their citizens are very law abiding or live in fear knowing fully well that their embassies will not come to their assistance or lift a finger to help them
I think the British miss the true meaning of Christmas. Did Santa not die on the cross for our sins?
Christmas is for when Jesus was born, while we have the Lent to remember his dying on the cross for our sins.
So where does Santa fit in to all this again? Was he the guy that found the magic bunny eating in the barn?
No you’re thinking of the winged horse Santa rode to take Mohamed to heaven.
“Everyone should have a chance to contribute equally to society…” only if they follow the same beliefs I do. An insult to Christians and Muslims in this “comment” and of course to the holiday spirit some enjoy, again, check out the cybercrime law, see what you think
People that believe in no gods are insulted every day but they do not kill or get upset about it. Live and let live is the way. If words insult you, then your faith is weak.
Your arguments are weak and you insult others to prop yourself up, that would be the difference. I haven’t advertised a faith or lack of, you insist on advertising yours and insulting others you don’t agree with. You think of yourself through your comments, as enlightened and open, but miss the hypocrisy in that you’re probably the most intolerant on here consistently. You don’t live by your own words of live and let live.
Your prejudice against me stands out in your comment. I have consistently argued that society should be for everyone. A state should be for all residents regardless of faith or beliefs. No one should be discriminated against due to belief or lack of.
Unfortunatly those who do not believe in God ad constantly attacked. Saudi passed a law equated atheists to terrorists, Malaysian’s PM also attacked atheists and apostates of Islam saying it would not be allowed. (Why would you be so scared of people leaving islam if you are so certain in your faith?)
Prejudice would imply that there’s no reason or enough facts, so for that you’re grossly mistaken. You paint large swathes of people with broad strokes and “argue” for society being for everyone except the religiously inclined because they will ruin that. Unlike those that ruin it for other beliefs, or for self-created belief systems, ie. their own agendas. You’ve also missed the general idea of why there are different states to begin with, why other states are created, why states stay together and still why others yearn for independence. That would be based on common beliefs, ethics, ethnicities etc. The problem with the claimed progressives, is that they demand tolerance of everyone of all ideas and demand imposition of those ideas on all people, thus being more intolerant of differences or desires. Those who believe in God, those who don’t believe in God, I think you’ll find that the correlation is weak, you want to find statistics to support either one of those arguments, you can and will find them. A narrowed focus on religion being the absolute cause of every problem or all major problems, really limits the ability to make strong arguments, because everything is tainted. Actually what that is generally defined as is bigotry.
I don’t know who are saying is scared of leaving religion, what I do know is that in the previous comment, your bigotry and irresponsibility of your words, aims to project that bigotry and insult the beliefs of almost 3 billion people, with no evidence to back it up, with no reason for the outburst. I should add because you seem to miss this point, I’m not insulted by your comments, but also, they’re not funny, religious or otherwise, they’re not partly true, they’re not witty or clever and not very intelligent or thought out, they’re outbursts that people see through to a need for validation on someone’s atheism, so who’s faith is weak now?
You are entitled to your own opinion and I respect that. This statement
‘The problem with the claimed progressives, is that they demand tolerance of everyone of all ideas and demand imposition of those ideas on all people, thus being more intolerant of differences or desires. ‘
The imposition of tolerance, yeah I’m all for that! Not a bad thing to be for.
Like one of my fav Muslim tweeters said once, ‘I’m all for free speech, except for those things I disagree with which should be punished’
lol, i thought christmas was for celebrating the virgin birth of santa.
How about a road safety campaign too? On the 1st day of driving in Qatar: Do not tailgate and flash your headlights when the driver in front is going at the speed limit…..On the 2nd day of driving in Qatar: Do not text or use your phone when driving…on the 3rd day of driving in Qatar: Do not forget to use your indicators…and so on…
Because the vast majority of people who don’t follow your well thought out recital do not identify with Christmas carols…..
I was here last Christmas…. I’ll be here this Christmas. Last year the message to stores and hotels was to tone Christmas down, so that it did not dilute the preparations for QND.
We all know that technically alcohol is outlawed here. The fact that we can drink it is a “tolerance” at best. A tolerance they we should not abuse. Yes, it is a bit awkward that we can buy beers in the bar, but technically should not be in public – even a taxi – under the influence. We know to that if the Qatari tolerance to alcohol is abused, they will take it away altogether.
And we also know that at this time of year, many Brits go over the top. To me the message is clear. Don’t over do it, and risk losing our priveledge.
As for Qatari’s drinking in or out of national costume, that is between them and their God, and not subject to the judgement of anyone here.
“As for Qatari’s drinking in or out of national costume, that is between them and their God, and not subject to the judgement of anyone here.”
And so… the road carnege continues?!?
Well said… They are delusional and have no respect for life.
Maybe so. But its not for me (or either of you, in fact) to pass judgment. I am responsible for my behavior only. So are you. Perhaps if all of us – nationals and expats alike EACH take responsibility for ourselves, instead of judging others and blaming everyone else, we might finally learn to respect each other.
Are you for real, or have you been on the sauce down the Oryx Rotana. Qataris drinking in national dress just illustrates the absolute corrupt power and scant regard they actually have for the law of their own Emir. It displays disrespect to their fellow country man and their Emir, yet no one does a damn thing about it. And let’s not forget they drive home after a good day on the sauce, endangering all and sundry.
Fair enough…. But what ever it demonstrates, and however outraged some individuals might feel, it is not for me…. Or you… To judge them