Dozens of concert-goers in Qatar are complaining about discrimination after being turned away from a Bryan Adams concert last night.
Several women wearing headscarves, along with their spouses, friends and relatives, said security barred them at the entrance to the Grand Hyatt Doha’s beachside venue before the show started.
Alcohol was being sold at the sold-out concert, and usually in Qatar, women wearing headscarves or national dress are not permitted into bars that serve spirits.
However, many people said they were surprised to learn of the restriction, as it had not been mentioned when they bought their concert tickets.
Other attendees said they were confused because several hijabis were allowed into the venue, suggesting the policy was unevenly enforced.
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Speaking to Doha News, Iram Kassis, a 44-year-old Tunisian expat, said a guard asked her and her sister to get out of the line for the concert because her sister wore a headscarf.
“We have been shocked by that and asked to meet with a responsible person to clarify this issue, especially (since) it was not mentioned in the terms and conditions of the website (when we) purchased the tickets.”
She added that she noticed several other families waiting around after having the same issue.
“We have been humiliated and there was no respect from the hotel people. I am not against the law in the country if it is forbidden to attend such an event, but the issue is with the organizing people and their disrespect of human beings.”
The Grand Hyatt declined to comment to Doha News about whether its venue has a no-headscarf policy. It referred questions to concert organizers instead.
Another concert-goer said she was turned away because of her scarf, and her friend was also asked to leave “by association.”
“I was condescendingly told at the gate, ‘take off your veil/scarf, or go back,” said the American expat, who asked not to be named.
She added that at one point, 40-50 people women stood with “husbands, brothers, coworkers and longtime friends” outside the venue.
After about three hours, as event organizers and security locked arms to keep them out, and a group of people shouting “let us in,” their tickets were refunded, she said, adding:
“I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Meanwhile, Kassis said didn’t want a refund.
“It’s about transparency” and letting people know they are not welcome beforehand, she said.
She added that she has filed a complaint to the Qatar Tourism Authority, which oversees the country’s hospitality sector.
Organizers Alive Entertainment have not responded to a request for comment.
But this is not the first time women have been barred from entering places in Qatar because of their attire.
This was because, as per Qatari law, people in national dress are not allowed in venues that serve alcohol.
And in 2013, locals called for a boycott of comedian Russell Peters’ show after organizers said people in national dress would not be permitted entry.
They later backtracked on the prohibition, calling it a “misprint” on the ticket.
In any case, many have criticized such policies as discrimination.
Speaking to Doha News, the American expat banned from last night’s concert said:
“We were told by Qatari police that it’s Qatar law that veiled women are not allowed in places/venues that serve alcohol.
This limits the rights of a Muslim women but not the Muslim man. The choice to wear a veil should not hinder someone from entrance.”