Browsing 'hotels' News

Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Many hotels in Qatar said they will be serving alcohol to guests this week, in an apparent change from a ban on booze before Eid Al Adha.

At least nine five-star establishments have confirmed to customers that their restaurants will be open and selling liquor, after receiving government approval.

This is a reversal of rules that have been in place for two years that required restaurants, bars and clubs to be dry for the nine days leading up to Eid, as well as the first day of the Muslim holiday itself.

Ray Toh / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This year, Eid is expected to start on Sept. 1.

Speaking to Doha News, hotel representatives did not explain the reason for the change in policy.

But the decision to relax the rules comes as many local hotels are struggling to attract visitors due to an ongoing Gulf blockade.

What’s open?

While some hotels said they will continue business as normal, others said they will go dry for one day, on Aug. 31, only.

So far, the hotels that told customers they will continue selling liquor at least most days include the Four Seasons Hotel Doha, the W Doha Hotel, the InterContinental Doha The City, the Hilton Hotel and The Sheraton Grand in Dafna/West Bay, as well as the Marsa Malaz Kempinski on the Pearl-Qatar, the Grand Hyatt Hotel by Lagoona mall, the St. Regis Hotel and InterContinental Hotel near Katara.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Some hotels said their bars would be open and serving alcohol throughout, although there would be no live music or entertainment.

However, others said they were still awaiting instructions about whether their bars and clubs would be allowed to open.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s sole off-license, QDC, closed yesterday, and will re-open on Sept. 3.

The warehouse stopped selling alcohol in the run-up to Eid Al Adha for the past two years.

Hajj period

The days prior to Eid-Al Adha are known by Muslims as the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah. This is the twelfth and last month of the Islamic calendar.

During this time, Muslims from around the world travel to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to undertake Hajj (pilgrimage).

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Even for observant Muslims who are not performing Hajj, the first 10 days of this month are believed to be blessed days to undertake good deeds.

This is not the only time of year when Qatar hotels usually are required to go dry.

Alcohol sales are also prohibited during the month of Ramadan, until the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, and on the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, which this year falls around Dec. 1.

Tough times

In recent years, Qatar hotels have been busy particularly with tourists from Saudi Arabia. They often travel with their large families for the long public holiday.

The dearth of these tourists, as well as those from the UAE and Bahrain, have had a significant impact on Qatar’s tourism and hospitality industry this summer.

In 2016, more than 40 percent of all visitors to Qatar came from other Gulf countries, according the Qatar Tourism Authority’s annual report.

QTA/Twitter

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The blockade will also likely hurt revenues during the upcoming Eid Al Adha. This is usually one of the busiest times of the year for visitors.

However, even before the dispute began, hoteliers in Qatar were reporting tough times.

To widen the country’s appeal as a travel destination, authorities said this month that citizens of more than 80 countries would be able to visit visa-free.

This includes nationals of Russia, China and India.

Four-day transit visas for Qatar Airways travelers were also made free last November, and cruise passengers docking in Doha can now get a free visa on arrival.

Thoughts?

eDmonD uchiha/Flickr

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The ongoing Gulf crisis has slowed down business for some Qatar companies, prompting them to put their staffers on unpaid leave in their home countries, according to a rights group.

Employees in the hospitality, construction and shipping industries have been particularly hard hit by the boycott against Qatar, says Migrant-Rights.org in a report this week.

The dispute with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain is now entering its third month.

Mwani

Hamad Port for illustrative purposes only.

While Qatar has worked out other (albeit more expensive) ways of getting food and medicine into the country, the blockade still cuts in different ways.

Hotel slowdown

For example, lower visitor numbers are hurting hotels, which are now furloughing employees to keep costs down.

Speaking to Migrant Rights, one kitchen staffer at a “five-star” establishment said:

“Initially, the hotel management asked which of us wishes to go on six months unpaid leave, due to lack of guests. Then later they told some employees to take three months extra leave in addition to our annual leave. Many have been sent on at least two months of unpaid leave.”

Kevin Duffy / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

When asked for comment, the general manager of the unnamed hotel conceded that the boycott has hit business.

But he added that workers were not forced to go on extended leave. Rather, all staff was scheduled into an unpaid leave rotation due to the current situation.

“We think this is a happy solution for both the hotel and the employees. They get to spend more time with their family,” he said.

Transport companies

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera spoke to local companies that transport goods this week. Many said they have been languishing since the boycott began and Qatar’s only land border was closed.

“We’ve been affected since the first minute,” said Saeed Fadal Ali Al-Kaabi, director of Al Fadal Transport and Trading.

“We are losing money and work is very slow,” he said. “We’re hardly using any trucks.”

So far, there are no signs that the boycott is ending any time soon.

If it doesn’t, economist Khalid Al Khater told Al Jazeera that consumer confidence is the biggest thing that will suffer.

Has your company been affected by the dispute, or is it business as usual? Thoughts?

Mondrian

An artist’s impression of the Mondrian Doha building

A new luxury hotel in West Bay Lagoon will open its doors to visitors on Oct. 1, officials have announced.

The Mondrian Doha, which draws design inspiration from falcons, has begun accepting reservations online for its 270 rooms and suites.

The move comes after four years of delays, and a recent pledge to open in the second quarter of this year.

Mondrian

The atrium of the Mondrian Hotel Doha

Mondrian Doha will be operated by the sbe group. This will be the California-based hospitality company’s first foray into the region, according to the Qatar Tribune.

To give Doha’s Mondrian a local touch, the entrance has been shaped like a falcon’s beak. Wing-like extensions frame the rooftop and basements appear to carved out like a nest.

The inside was designed by Dutch architect Marcel Wanders, and references falcons in paintings, portraits and ornaments.

Offerings

Among the new restaurants coming to Qatar in a few months’ time are CUT by Wolfgang Puck, a fine dining steak house, and Japanese restaurant Morimoto Doha.

Mondrian

Morimoto, one of the dining venues at the new hotel

Other eateries include:

  • Walima, an authentic Qatari restaurant;
  • Hudson Tavern, a burger joint and bar;
  • Smoke and Mirrors, a cigar lounge; and
  • A shisha terrace.

The 31-story hotel is also planning to have an “entertainment floor” with a nightclub called Black Orchid, an indoor pool and a skybar on its top floor, Rise (formerly Cirrus).

Reservations are now being accepted for the hotel’s five types of rooms, including penthouse suite, studio suites, one and two-bedroom suites and standard guestrooms.

Mondrian

Mondrian Doha

Room rates start at QR875 ($240) per night.

Thoughts?