What Jewish people can and can’t do in Qatar

A general view of the skyline featuring a building with the word Qatar projected on it ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Picture date: Wednesday November 16, 2022. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Qatar is hosting the World Cup and all eyes are on its capital city Doha.

Judaism is an officially recognized religion in the country, however there are no statistics on how large the community there is. Israel reached a special diplomatic arrangement with the Qatari government to allow direct flights to the country during the World Cup for the very first time. (Normally Israelis cannot travel to the Gulf State.)

Football fans check in at a Tus Air counter in Israel’s Ben Gourion international airport, for a flight to Doha to attend the World Cup 2022 tournament, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, on November 20, 2022. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

“With this deal, Israelis and Palestinians will be able to fly together and enjoy football together,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement lauding the deal. “The World Cup is the ultimate symbol of football’s unifying power, and today’s historic announcement provides a platform to improve relations across the Middle East.”

Despite this, the Israeli government is asking citizens to “tone down their Israeliness.”

“We ask them to tune down their Israeli appearances. It’s not that they should hide it. But we don’t think that showing off their Israeli identity will help them while they’re there. And this is an important thing, both for their security, but also for them enjoying the games,” Lior Haiat, head of National Public Diplomacy at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, told CNN.

Football fans show their Israeli passports and air tickets as they prepare to board a Tus Air flight from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport to Doha to attend the World Cup 2022 tournament, on November 20, 2022. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Around 10,000 Jewish people and Israelis are expected to travel to Doha for the games.

No public Jewish prayer or kosher food?

Meanwhile, there are conflicting reports that the Qatari government banned public displays of Jewish prayer and kosher food.

On the kosher food side, it appears a compromise has been reached and non-heated food will be allowed for sale.

According to the Jerusalem Post:

“They were promised to be able to cook kosher food including kosher meat, but at the moment have only been allowed to sell cold bagel sandwiches.”

Jewish officials say before the World Cup began they were also promised by authorities that observant Jews would be allowed to pray at venues.

“We were promised to be allowed to create prayer spaces in order for religious Jews who came to see the games to have a place of worship,” one source told the Jerusalem Post.

Officials now say that they are no longer allowed to pray due to “security reasons.”