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'Sin tax' doubles the cost of alcohol overnight in Qatar

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By Caroline Radnofsky with NBC News World News
Image: Map showing Qatar
Qatar is an emirate located on the Arabia Peninsula.   -   Copyright  Bing Maps
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Qatar welcomed the new year by implementing a 100 percent tax on alcohol, doubling prices overnight and sending the cost of a 12-pack of beer jumping to $78.

The increase has been branded a "sin tax" by some residents of the wealthy Gulf state as it targets products widely prohibited under Islamic law.

It was introduced by Qatar's General Authority of Customs on Jan. 1, and applies to tobacco products, energy drinks and pork — with 14 oz. of bacon now costing $15. A 50 percent tax has also been levied on soft drinks.

Qatar is an emirate located on the Arabia Peninsula.
Qatar is an emirate located on the Arabia Peninsula.Bing Maps

Only foreign nationals are permitted to drink in Qatar, with alcohol available at some high-end hotel bars and restaurants as well as a single store on the outskirts of Doha.

As much as88 percent of Qatar's populationis estimated to be made up of foreigners.

After rumors of the looming tax began to circulate on social media on New Year's Eve, some expats stockpiled alcohol before the tax came into effect.

The General Authority of Customs said in a statement that the tax was being "applied to specific goods that the State of Qatar deems harmful to human health and the environment."

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It added that revenues from the tax would be reinvested into public services like schools and hospitals.

Qatar is due to host soccer's World Cup in 2022. Tournament organizers have said that alcohol will only be available in designated spaces during the event.