The Qatar Distribution Company (QDC), which sells alcohol and pork products, will replace its one time refundable deposit of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($275) with a yearly charge. This fee will vary based on the length of an individual’s residency permit.
One year will cost 150 Qatari riyals, two years will cost 250 riyals, three years will cost 350 riyals and four years will cost 400 riyals under the new scheme. The fee must also be paid by credit or debit card, not in cash.
Customers that already have licenses will have their deposits returned with the new fee deducted for future access. Other family members will be able to obtain cards under the same account without paying an additional fee. Currently, extra cards come at a cost.
The rules for applying for a liquor license will remain the same. These regulations include making at least 4,000 riyals per month and having a valid residency permit.
Some see the decision as making alcohol and pork products more accessible to those with lower salaries, who may have found it difficult to pay a deposit of 1,000 riyals. Others see it as another way that the country’s only liquor store is exploiting an already monopolized market, according to Doha News.
But the announcement comes as the the QDC has been making other changes as well. The store recently extended its opening hours to include Friday afternoons.
Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31–in time for the Christian holidays– a “double quota” has been implemented, meaning their alochol purchasing limit doubles. Previously this was only in place in the weeks leading up to Ramadan, when the store shuts down for one month.