Earlier this month, I went along to a press conference held at the St Regis hotel in Doha to mark the first anniversary of British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s two restaurants there.
He’d opened the two outlets after the closure of his first Qatar venture, Maze, due to a recent ban on alcohol sales on its location – luxury island The Pearl – so naturally, the topic of alcohol was on the discussion table.
I asked him whether he still believed the Pearl alcohol ban wouldn’t continue, and his response to that question formed the lead of the resulting Doha News story.
Not content with this response, however, he went on to tell us about the seizure of a treasured bottle of Dom Perignon champagne from his suitcase by Qatari customs officials on his arrival in Doha a couple of days earlier. Apparently unaware of the fact that it’s illegal to bring alcohol into Qatar (you can only buy it here with a license from the country’s solitary booze shop, or from five star hotels) he’d packed the bottle, a present from a friend, in his bag.
We included this tale further down our story. No other Qatar-based outlets have written about this yet, as far as I know – probably due to the extent of self-censorship in the country.
Anyhow, this anecdote has since spread far and wide, unfortunately largely uncredited to Doha News (and, in one case, plagiarised by an agency who sold the story on to the UK’s Daily Star – we’re attempting to get that rectified.)
If you spot it in the wild, could you let me know?