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Not sure whether to post here or AIBU

(21 Posts)
booklooker Tue 04-Oct-16 19:54:28

My colleagues and I Iike to meet up for a departmental social a couple of times a year. These have always been a lot of fun.

We were hoping to do it again in a month or so, however a new colleague to the department has requested that we do not go to any place that serves alcohol.

We are in the Middle East, but alcohol is legal.

About half the staff would drink if it was available.

In previous years this has never been a problem with the non-drinking members of the staff.

We have been to non-drinking places in the past, but this has never been at the request of anyone.

I am reluctant to let this become a precedent, but maybe I'm not sure of the background to his objections. (apart from his family being Muslim)

I would like to point out that I have lived in predominately Muslim regions all over the world for over 20 years, and I have not come across this issue before.

UKsounding Tue 04-Oct-16 21:43:50

Have you asked him why he has made this request?

Laptopwieldingharpy Wed 05-Oct-16 03:02:00

I do wish that going out for a drink was not the systematic default option. There are so many other ways to socialise.
he probably doesnt drink and as much as i understand you dont want to be seen as setting a precedent ir capitulating you could perhaps suggest that for the next occasion, people throw in a few different ideas for your social gathering?

Zikreetdreaming Sat 08-Oct-16 08:30:01

It's a hard call, particularly because it's a new colleague and so you don't want to be seen to be excluding him. Can you alternate a bit or do something in two stages so there's an initial bit somewhere without alcohol (maybe a restaurant that doesn't serve) and then those who want a drink (or who don't care whether they're in a drinking environment) move on somewhere later on and he can go home?

A lot to me would depend on how the request has been phrased. The vast majority of muslims I know wouldn't have an issue being in a restaurant where alcohol was served. Most don't mind being in a bar either. Some however do and that's their call. Of the ones I've known who do, the only ones who would come straight out with a request like this also tend to be the ones who are likely to cause trouble with other things.

For example, I have a colleague who doesn't like being around alcohol. He wouldn't come if we were going to be having drinks near him but he wouldn't expect the entire evening to be arranged around him (and actually we'd take his preferences into account anyway because we want him to be involved!). I have had other colleagues in the past who would have insisted that the social was somewhere without alcohol and would have made a big deal about it. They're inevitably the ones who also demand special treatment in other ways as well. You get those people in every office, regardless of religious beliefs.

ChopsticksandChilliCrab Sat 08-Oct-16 10:55:52

Making a demand like this isn't going to endear him to the rest of the department. It certainly shows a lack of social graces. Really he should wait to see where everyone decides to go and then accept or decline. Once everyone works out that he won't come if alcohol is being served, and he has built up a store of good feeling from colleagues through his work, people might choose to avoid the alcohol for his sake. A new colleague making demands is not appropriate. At my place it would be seen as very bad form.

GreenOranges Sun 09-Oct-16 04:31:19

Can you not do two things in one evening? Bowling for example and then dinner somewhere that serves alcohol? Then he (and others if they wished) could leave before food.

InTheDessert Sun 09-Oct-16 05:30:07

How available is alcohol? Here it's not a problem. There is no alcohol available, so it is never an issue. But I think he has not been the most diplomatic about his preferences.
I think this time I'd go for a 2 venue evening, as has been suggested above. Next time, ask for suggestions from people, and mix up venues he is comfortable with and venues with a licence.

Iflyaway Sun 09-Oct-16 05:41:42

A new colleague making demands is not appropriate.

I agree. What gives him the right to dictate terms?

I wouldn't be looking forward to working with him either. He seems inflexible.

Zikreetdreaming Sun 09-Oct-16 06:26:02

Inthedessert - OP says alcohol is available. Presumably she's not in Kuwait or KSA.

InTheDessert Sun 09-Oct-16 06:29:05

Sorry, Zikreet, I had seen that. Just trying to work out how available booze was, as I don't really know (and, yes I'm in the second if your options!), as none here, and struggling to come up with a place in the UK without booze that isn't the cinema or sports!!!!

MardAsSnails Sun 09-Oct-16 06:40:22

What we generally do is go to a restaurant where either there is no booze or the unwritten/unspoken rule is that nobody drinks at dinner.

Then a group of us break off after dinner, including some non drinkers, and go to a couple of bars.

That way, everyone gets a choice and those who do not wish to to be around alcohol will simply go home, having been part of the evening. Those who wish to join us pissheads drinkers will join us and drink pop.

PlumsGalore Sun 09-Oct-16 07:03:09

Everyone has a choice to accept an invite, I don't think the new colleague should impose his choices on a new group. A simple thank you but I cannot attend if there is alcohol is sufficient, not can you all change your regular get together to suit me and my preference. He is still welcome to join and avoid alcohol.

If a significant number of the group felt the same and always had then this wouldn't be an issue, but the non drinkers appear to attend anyway and avoid alcohol. He is being a special prince and you are all expected to pander.

Thefitfatty Sun 09-Oct-16 07:26:24

He's being precious, but if it means that much to him and you don't tend to drink till after the dinner anyway, I'd probably just choose a non-drinking venue.

Or perhaps suggest a popular spot in one of the hotels? I find it difficult to believe that he doesn't go anyplace that serves alcohol, as that would really limit your social life in this region....

Zikreetdreaming Sun 09-Oct-16 09:13:12

Inthedesser - I've been in Qatar and now in the UAE, in both lots of options for restaurants that don't serve alcohol as an example. I doubt Bahrain is any different (and law of numbers suggests this is probably Dubai/Abu Dhabi!)

Thefitfatty - I know a few people who won't go in anywhere that serves alcohol. They have active social lives, just different ones - more shisha bars and traditional restaurants rather than bunch and 5* hotel restaurants. I agree it would really limit your options if you wanted top-end food though as the vast majority of the really top-end restaurants serve alcohol.

anotherdayanothersquabble Sun 09-Oct-16 09:36:14

Flip this on its head...

I live and work in a predominately Muslim country where the majority of people do not drink alcohol and find it offensive. Many companies employ western employees who like to socialise around alcohol. I have recently joined a new company where 50% of the staff are strict Muslim and do not drink alcohol. Am I being unreasonable to ask that the company does not arrange work social events where alcohol is served and that those who do drink alcohol can do that in their own time.

Is he really being precious or just asking you to respect the culture and beliefs of your adopted culture and to drink on your own time rather than expect him to ether compromise his beliefs or exclude himself from work social events?

Zikreetdreaming Sun 09-Oct-16 15:29:19

Yes because:

(1) it's not asking people to respect the local culture. It's asking people to adapt to his particular interpretation of a religion. To say that having a drink in (eg) Dubai or Amman is disrespecting the local culture is just not correct. As I mentioned, the vast majority of Muslims don't really care what other people are doing and don't seek to impose their rules on others. Despite western perceptions, it's a very tolerant religion. The religion also says you must fast over Ramadan, should that be imposed on everyone in the office too?

(2) He's new to the company and is trying to change the status quo to suit him. The issue I raised is how is he asking - nicely "You're free to do what you want and I hope you won't think badly of me but I can't attend if there's alcohol served" v "Alcohol is haram. Company practice is disrespecting local culture and beliefs. You must change and go for shisha" [with a side order of "people who drink cannot call themselves Muslims"]. You accommodate the first, the second is likely to be a management nightmare in the long run and needs to be carefully handled.

(3) Nothing's suggested this is in work time. This is (most likely) employees giving up their free time to socialise with work colleagues, they'll be drinking on their own time. Why should they have it imposed that they can't?

booklooker Tue 11-Oct-16 16:24:05

I thought it only right to return to this thread to let you know what was decided.

We will be going to a local restaurant that does not serve alcohol.

He is a very gentle man who has spent his life in a strict Muslim region of India. This is his first time to live out of that environment.I think most people within the dept did not want to exclude him (assuming he would not attend a venue where alcohol is served) on the first departmental evening. No problem at all.

Though I do hope we will be able have some other evenings where we are free to enjoy a drink with the meal in the future.

Zikreetdreaming Wed 12-Oct-16 07:38:46

Glad you have a good resolution. His view actually might change as he gets used to the different environment anyway.

I still remember being sat next to someone at a meal who had never met anyone who drank before. He was intrigued and kept offering me more wine smile

Zikreetdreaming Wed 12-Oct-16 07:39:39

I mean never been with anyone who drank. Various people who worked with him drank, but not around him.

Vagabond Wed 19-Oct-16 16:11:00

You don't have to drink alcohol in a place that serves alcohol.
You can't drink alcohol in a place that doesn't serve it.

Simples.

I lived in Saudi for many years so I speak with a bit of cultural understanding.

Zikreetdreaming Thu 20-Oct-16 15:51:26

Vagabond I know several people who would be uncomfortable being in a place that served alcohol, even if they weren't drinking. Some for religious reasons and some because it is an environment that is a long way out of their comfort one.

Provided that they're not otherwise arses, it's nice not to have events that exclude people, whatever the reason.

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