Doha, Qatar – We are a few weeks away from the 2022 World Cup. Twelve years after being given the right to host the tournament, the tiny Gulf nation of Qatar has built a stadium and opened a five-lane highway and its $36 billion subway system.
It has attracted Fifa fans from all over the world, who can participate in its 4-week contest. But with a big kick-off just a few weeks away, is Qatar ready to pull it off?
All major tournaments, such as the World Cup, the Olympics, etc., come against the backdrop of concerns about unprepared stadiums, security issues, or expensive accommodation and travel for fans. Qatar is no exception.
The reality of Qatar 2022 is that there are only a few days left until the opener between Qatar and Ecuador. There is good news and excitement as the clock ticks towards the 32-team tournament.
All newly developed projects and stadiums are ready and match-tested for the World Cup with stunning designs. At Al Bayt Stadium and pearl-shaped Al Janoub, Qatar is scoring 10 for aesthetics and style, guaranteed to get a perfect score.
But a sprawling five-lane highway and subway system is poised to connect fans between stadiums, making it the longest travel distance from Al Janoub in the south to Al Bait in the north. In less than an hour, there are few valuables for fan amenities, a few weeks until the season opener.
Some stadiums are surrounded by dust, miles, and miles devoid of hotels, shops, cafes, sprawling vast deserts, construction sites, or empty parking lots. All stadiums will have fan zones, food stalls, and amusement areas by the FIFA World Cup, but work is still to be done.
Accommodation is also an issue. Now Qatar is a huge construction site. Some hotels and apartments will be ready, but others will not be ready in time. Around Lusail, it will take years, not months, to complete his five-year project to build hotels, restaurants, shops, and homes.
In addition to worrying about having enough space, there is also the question of how much accommodation will cost. SC announced earlier this year that rates would start at $80 per night. Evain believes the cheapest option is a single bed in a room or dorm for $100 a night, while cruise ship accommodation is $400 a night.
According to FIFA, demand for tickets is high, with more than 800,000 tickets sold in the first phase, but this does not indicate how many fans will attend. Fans arriving in Qatar can watch the game in the comfort of air-conditioned stadiums.
"There is a difference between buying tickets for $500, $600, $700 now and going to Qatar...The ticket sales numbers we see now are not necessarily the I'm going to Qatar," said Evain.
A FIFA spokesman said his tickets for 55 of his 64 matches in the tournament would be cheaper than the previous World Cup matches held in Russia. The spokesperson is a Qatar resident (approximately $10, 53% cheaper than Russia) and 250 QAR for overseas fans (about $70, 33% cheaper than Russia).
That may be true, but clarity about the nature of the ticket remains elusive. There are four categories of tickets, category 1 being the most expensive and category 4 being reserved for Qatar residents only.
For fans making lists of pros and cons about going to Qatar for the World Cup, the list of cons continues to grow. From an ethical perspective to the cost of accommodation, transportation, and tickets, there are many reasons to wonder if this will be the World Cup that will bring fans worldwide together.
The Qatar Supreme Committee in charge of hosting the FIFA expects 1.3 million fans to stop over Qatar during the game. This is half of the current total population of the country. And here's the bad news.
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Earlier this year, Qatar agreed to operate 160 daily shuttle flights between Doha and the United Arab Emirates, allowing fans to take a 40-minute flight from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This route is normally operated only 6 times a day. In Qatar itself, limited options range from sleeping pods ($80 a night) to the gorgeous Banana Island, a 20-minute boat ride from Doha.
Bookings for short-term rentals have already been taken from the families of French and English players. Moreover, 80% of Doha's hotel rooms are now reserved for teams and officials by the Supreme Committee and FIFA. , but 20,000 rooms are expected to be released the month before the tournament.
Tent camps are similar to those offered at music festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury. At Al Khor, he provided a deluxe tent for $380 a night. But while thousands of cabins at Al Wakrah Camp are said to be available for $190 a night, few offer luxury at this point. The photos now tell us a row of metal huts in the desert.
Organizers claim they will be ready and appealing in time for the World Cup, but it will come as a culture shock for many fans. Alcohol is available in Qatar but is strictly regulated and will continue to be controlled during the World Cup. I asked him if he would, and the answer was a resounding "no."
Fans with enough cash can visit one of Doha's many luxury hotels or buy alcohol at the local sports club's bars and pubs. Beer prices at InterContinental Beach, Marriott Marquis, and Kempinski Pearl (USMNT reserves Kempinski as the base) range from £12 to £14 a pint.
Alcohol will be served at the stadium before and after the game, but fans will not be able to purchase beer to watch the game from the stands. World Cup sponsor Budweiser delivers beer to stadiums and fan zones. In his 40,000-seat fan zone in central Doha's Al Bidda Park, alcohol will be served on match days, but only after 18:30 until 1 o'clock.
Non-Muslim residents of Qatar can obtain alcohol purchase permits from the Qatar Distribution Company. Still, there are no plans to relax restrictions on visitors buying alcohol outside hotels, restaurants, and fan zones during the World Cup.
Sources say authorities are unlikely to impose draconian measures on fans caught drinking outside of permitted areas, but drinking in public is punishable by up to six months in prison. It can lead to imprisonment or an $800 fine.
All stadiums, except Stadium 974, will be air-conditioned for spectators and players during the tournament. During the match, the temperature in the stands is regulated to 21-22 degrees Celsius (69-71 degrees Fahrenheit). Seat-level vents expel cold air, so some games require fans to bring a coat to keep cool.
At pitch level, air conditioning is supplied by giant vents on the sides of the pitch and controlled by 350 different sensors embedded under the turf. Temperature and humidity are measured, and the air conditioning system adjusts the temperature according to the players on the pitch.
The air is also constantly refreshed, ensuring optimal air quality, removing dust and pollen, and providing ventilation to combat the spread of viruses such as COVID-19.
Dr. Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani - Nicknamed 'Dr. Cool' - Designed the air conditioning system for the World Cup stadium and also designed an environmentally friendly system. A solar farm located 30 miles from Doha produces 10 times more electricity per day than he needs to run an air conditioner.
FIFA is slowly selling Qatar 2022 tickets, and fans around the world have already bought him 2.5 million. The biggest demand came from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Still, the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Brazil were also strong markets for ticket purchases.
His final 500,000 tickets are expected to go on sale by the end of September. This means Qatar 2022 will have to play in packed stadiums regardless of the teams involved.
However, while European and American supporters expressed concern over the difficulty of accessing and short-term staying in Qatar, the excitement in the Middle East and neighborhood was enormous.
Organizers hope fans from Iran and North Africa will travel more than ever before, but Expats living and working in Qatar will also see their country in action. But if you want to visit Qatar and don't have a ticket yet, you must hurry.
It will be a different World Cup, but the key elements are there with the stadium and infrastructure projects completed. Lack of accommodation is a problem. Qatar's mentality is to put things off until the last minute, but they always pay off. It is said that it is rebelling against the part of FIFA that expects it to be implemented similarly.
In Qatar, there were a few obvious concerns about a lack of time to complete the work. Still, the fans were more concerned about the distractions off the pitch, like the World Cup being held in different areas of the world. The services are world-class, and the climate should guarantee the best conditions for football matches.
But the big thing is that Qatar can handle the influx of supporters from all over the world. This question can only be answered if everything is up and running within a few days. The preparations are perfect for accommodating the visitors. It will surely deliver the best to welcome the fans of Fifa.
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