Hotel restaurant policies called into question after Qatari woman barred entry on New Year’s (Doha News, 01/01/2012)

A young local woman has criticized a common hotel policy here that denies anyone wearing hijab or national attire (abayas and thobes) from entering restaurants with bars in them late at night.

The Qatari, who spoke to the Peninsula yesterday about being turned away from two luxury hotel restaurants during New Year’s celebrations, said she was shocked by the treatment:

Visibly upset, she said she found it quite strange that while hotels here entertained foreigners and “accorded priority to patrons who drank”, they so brazenly discriminated against locals, including women.

“Isn’t it disturbingly surprising that in my own country I am being prevented entry into a hotel, a public place?” the woman said.

Last year, the tale of a 31-year-old pharmacist who was denied entrance to a music festival in Dubai because of her headscarf made waves in the UAE.

Critics called the move “reverse discrimination,” but concert organizers said they were told not to let people who are visibly Muslim in as part of the conditions of their alcohol licence.

I have also faced this issue a few times while living in Qatar – once, while trying to attend the Laughter Factory, and again, while trying to satisfy a late-night craving for Mexican food at a hotel.

There, the host at the door eyed my headscarf and told my husband, “you don’t want to be in that environment,” referring to the busy bar and live music inside.

Perhaps, but isn’t that a decision I should make for myself?

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