As Qatar takes steps to control the sale of alcohol-based perfumes, shops in areas with a high concentration of low-income workers have starting pulling some brands off the shelves, the Peninsula reports.
The government has said the regulations, which take effect in April, are “in the interest of public health,” and designed to help prevent the growing misuse of colognes among some residents as intoxicants.
But many shopkeepers in the Old Airport area, Msheireb and Al Asmakh told the Peninsula that they stopped selling some colognes used as alcohol substitutes long ago because of the health hazards they posed. The newspaper reports:
Luma is preferred by these workers because it is cheap at QR13. It does not have strong (fragrance) and instead has a subtle smell, so workers take it by mixing it with coke.
“Some workers come to us to buy it but I always tell them that we have stopped selling for a long time because of news of cases leading to severe health problems, including damage to internal organs such as the kidneys,” said a shopkeeper in Al Asmakh.
Other stores sell the colognes off the shelves, the newspaper said, with sales especially high during the weekend.
Alcohol consumption is closely regulated in Qatar. Only residents who make relatively high minimum monthly salaries are granted licenses to purchase booze for home use. And because alcohol sold at five-star hotels is also expensive, bootleg distillation among low-income workers is not uncommon.
Last week, for example, the Ministry of Interior announced the arrest of four expats in Al Khor for manufacturing and selling homemade liquor.