As the countdown to the FIFA World Cup 2022 begins, to be held in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December, fans from all over the world rush to book tickets. Trade partners share their views.
Shantanu S. Mehta, General Manager, Orient Tours CWT M&E, UAE, Sultanate of Oman and State of Qatar
The tickets are being sold only through the appointed match hospitality agents. Residents from each country must book those tickets individually. Agents and intermediaries are discouraged from purchasing tickets on others’ behalf. Qatar is planning 1.2 million beds, including cruise ships docked off its ports. So, a lot of fans will opt to stay in nearby countries. Not only hotels, but ground transportation, excursions, and other tourist services are being sold at exorbitant prices. The situation will exacerbate as we draw closer to the games. As long as they can acquire landing lights and lay down sufficient flights, Dubai and all the major cities in the 1-2 hour flying radius will benefit. As a boutique luxury DMC, we promote bespoke packages. There are already several confirmed bookings. We are helping some of our creative partners explore land transfers between the UAE and Qatar. There are more than enough indicators that the FIFA World Cup period combined with the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix will provide a travel boom for the UAE.
Sanaf Rahman, Aldar Travel and Tours Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
Both local Bahrainis and expats residing in Bahrain who are soccer fans will already be engaged in securing their seats for the sporting event, which is the first major soccer event in the region. As there are no direct flights between Doha and Bahrain, the fans will opt to travel between Dubai and Doha, making it the hub for tourism.
Nuran Kilani, Director of Sales and Marketing, The Tower Plaza Hotel
We are blessed by being located in a prime location with proximity to the city’s touristic attractions, so we are getting bookings from pretty much all countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, the UK, Germany, France, Morocco, and many more. As per Qatar Tourism, there are just under 30,000 hotel rooms in Qatar, and 80 per cent of the rooms are booked for FIFA players, referees, media, and other official guests. A flight from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Doha takes around an hour. About 1.5 million visitors are expected for the month-long tournament. But with only 130,000 or so rooms anchored off Doha and desert campsites, the wider GCC will be appealing alternative destinations for fans, who will make the day trip for matches. We have active local partners who started sending their bookings for football fans. The UAE is always planning ahead, so during the World Cup, 30 return flights per day will take off from Dubai for Doha with flydubai, while Air Arabia will operate 14 daily flights between Sharjah and Doha in addition to their three daily services, known as shuttle flights.
Jeannette Smit, Complex Director of Sales & Marketing at W Dubai – Mina Seyahi, Westin & Le Meridien Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina
We are seeing the most uptake from European countries, such as the UK, Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands, being the most popular, while Serbia, South America, Brasil and Argentina are showing interest and we only expect this to increase over the coming months. We have three properties within our complex, so we are only taking reservations for W Dubai – Mina Seyahi, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, and Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Waterpark. However, with these three unique products, we can cater to all ticket holders, whether they are travelling solo, as a group or with family. We are taking bookings direct and through DMC.
First ME nation to host FIFA WC
The countdown has now begun to the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. This will be the first time the world’s biggest football tournament is hosted in the Middle East. Fans will be able to watch more than two live matches per day, as the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the most compact version of the tournament ever staged. Sustainability has been embedded into major new projects in Qatar since the FIFA World Cup bid was won over a decade ago. In central Doha, you will find the café-lined streets of Msheireb, the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project. At the heart of the World Cup will be the US$ 45-billion city of the future, Lusail City, the largest single sustainable development to be undertaken in Qatar, with a host of interesting buildings (the pinnacle of which is the soon-to-open Katara Towers) and innovative eco-friendly ideas. The stadiums built for football have sustainability at their core, and it will be a carbon-neutral event. Stadium 974, for example, is built from repurposed ocean shipping containers and will be completely dismantled after the tournament ends.