Qatar Football World Cup: an Update

Published 2022-03-11 13:27:12
Aerial view of stadium construction in Qatar - Photo by Ben Koorengevel on Unsplash

If you do find yourself planning a trip to Qatar for the Football (soccer) World Cup 2022 be sure to read our recap of events leading up to this major tournament and also to be updated on what to expect (including the controversy).

It feels like we've experienced a massive paradigm shift in almost every part of our lives over the last few months. From the archaic and bizarre concept of waging actual war in Europe to the increase in recent climate disasters, it seems that nothing is certain anymore and that nowadays we should be prepared for anything.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 has also not been spared as we've just seen the Russian football team excluded from the 2022 tournament. This happened because some countries refused to participate with the Russian team thus forcing FIFA's hand into removing them from the tournament. Ukraine's participation in November may also be uncertain in light of the recent devastating developments.

This dramatic turn of events - not forgetting the global Covid-19 upheaval - has distracted the mainstream conversation away from the controversy that surrounded FIFA when they first awarded the organisation to Qatar in 2010. 

Controversy in awarding the World Cup to Qatar

Controversy have marked the choice of the organizing country since the beginning.

First, the choice of Qatar to host the 2022 football World Cup came as a surprise. The country is known for very high temperatures in the Summer, but it's only after granting the hosting that FIFA officials acknowledged that that playing the event in the searing heat of the Gulf summer was unworkable. As a consequence, FIFA was forced to move the World Cup organisation to November.

Then in 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice published a staggering report saying that representatives working for Russia and Qatar bribed FIFA officials to secure their hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 football competitions.

In addition, in 2021 there was a massive drive by human rights campaigners to apply pressure on some of the more prominent football teams to exclude themselves from the competition in protest against the human rights violations in the host country. Teams from Denmark, Germany and Norway were urged to exclude themselves from the games and stand in solidarity with the poor working conditions of labourers in Qatar.

Just last year a former employee of the Qatar World Cup organisers who raised issue with unpaid labourer wages was given a five year sentence for alleged corruption and misappropriation of state funds. The man stated that he was not given a fair trial and was compelled to sign a confession. However, officials denied the claim and stated that there was ample evidence against the accused. An appeal saw his sentence decreased to three years but when critics called on FIFA to intervene, the organisation said it needed time to reflect on the verdict.

Aside from the mistreatment of foreigner workers, critics are also questioning how this tiny desert country with no prior experience was awarded the chance to host such a major event. FIFA countered by stating that Qatar was awarded the honour of hosting because of their "strategy of expanding soccer into new regions".

What does hosting entail?

The massive cost required to execute one of the most popular sporting events is staggering. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the estimated cost to Qatar is a staggering $300 billion.

Qatar is hoping this investment will catapult them into a tourism and business haven rivalling regional neighbour Dubai. The country is expecting the World Cup to boost their economy by $20 billion (equivalent to about 11% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2019). But the event is mostly a way to create opportunities for companies in many different industries well beyond 2022.

As a point of interest, Qatar is the smallest country to host the World Cup ever. 

Benefits for the entire region

Organisers are expecting close to 1.5 million visitors during the month-long tournament which will start in November (although there has been criticisms that matches might be poorly attended as fans won't have much fun due to alcohol ban and cothing restrictions). 

Even though Qatar has spent billions on improving infrastructure and hotel accommodation there is still a colossal shortfall. There are only around 130,000 rooms provided for by hotels, cruise ships docked off the coast of Doha and a few scattered desert camp sites. Therefore, the surrounding nations of the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia will be attractive alternative destinations for football fans. In fact, flight tickets have already surged in price.

"The UAE as a global hub will have every opportunity to capitalise on strong visitor numbers who wish to use the emirates as their base for the tournament games," said David Garner, Mena region commercial vice president of Minor Hotels, which owns the Anantara and Avani brands."Demand will be generated by the 32 countries who have qualified for the World Cup but also from many other global fans."

Qatar is easily accessible to travellers from most the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC - United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain) countries with the main international airport in Doha only an hour away.

Travel and tourism representatives from major airlines, travel companies and hotels have already reported increased interest from football fans since the first stage of ticket sales became available.

"There's an expectation that many football fans heading to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will use Dubai either as a staging post or as a pre or post visit option due to Dubai's excellent visitor options and attractions," said Stuart Birkwood, general manager of Radisson Red Dubai in Silicon Oasis.

The tiny island of Bahrain, which is just a stone's throw away from Qatar by air has more than 18,000 hotel rooms to offer, while Saudi Arabia, another neighbour, has about 600,000 according to a report. Kuwait also has an assortment of resorts and hotels which could make this oil-producing nation a hub for many fans looking for accommodation.

Even though hotels are competitively priced in the UAE and the surrounding nations, prices can be expected to increase as demand increases.

Currently, there are already no longer rooms available in Qatar during the tournament. Whether this is because they are not released for booking during that period or if they are fully booked already still remains unclear. 

What to expect weatherwise

The weather in the region in November should be pleasant. You certainly won't be experiencing the scorchingly high temperatures of the summer. The average temperatures range between 24-25°C but you could see highs of 29°C.

December may bring lower temperatures of about 19°C but the weather is still very mild compared with the rest of the northern hemisphere at that time of year. It is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors.

Some rules to remember

  1. The dress code is modest. Women should keep their shoulders covered and refrain from wearing short skirts or dresses and low necklines. You may be more comfortable with long skirts and trousers with linen or cotton shirts, especially if the weather is warm. If you're not sure about what is acceptable, a good tip is to carry a shawl that you can use to cover up, if necessary.
    For men, the shorts should not be too short– the appropriate length is knee length or longer to be on the safe side, and no skimpy tops, either.
  2. Alcohol consumption in public spaces is not advisable. There are some hotels and restaurants that serve alcohol but not all do so find out beforehand to avoid disappointment.
  3. Public displays of affection like kissing and cuddling should be avoided. It is not customary for locals to express themselves physically and it may offend a local enough to report you to the police.
  4. The local currency is the Qatari Riyal. With Covid restrictions and the surge in electronic payment systems, it will be possible to pay electronically in most places. However, it may be wise to keep some local currency with you for any traditional markets you may want to visit.
  5. It is difficult to find pork products. Pork is not consumed in Qatar so do not be tempted to bring some with you as it is strictly prohibited and will be confiscated.

Things to do in Qatar that are not football related

  • Sand dune bashing: there is certainly no shortage of sand dunes in this desert country. Many different tourism companies offer adrenalin-pumping sand dune adventures like sandboarding, and driving up and down steep sand dunes with quad biking in a specialised all-terrain vehicle. If this is more your speed then make sure to fit in a spectacular sunset picnic in the desert.  
  • Souq Waqif is a typical traditional market of winding alleyways where you can shop for souvenirs, local fabrics and trinkets.
  • Pearl Qatar is a man-made island lined with palatial homes, hotels and boutiques. The island is often referred to as the 'Arabian Riviera' for its architecture, shopping and dining experiences.
  • Skydive and experience Doha's sparkling cityscape on one side and the endless desert on the other from a very unique point of view.
  • The Doha Corniche is a long stretch of pathways along the water's edge that offers diverse dining experiences with dramatic views of the cityline.
  • Enjoy local Qatari cuisine like machboos. It is a meat dish with rice and vegetables spiced with the typical Middle Eastern flavours of saffron, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, ginger and black pepper. Try a local restaurant to get the authentic taste of Qatari machboos. You should definitely try the local dates which are a national speciality in Qatar. They are often served with Arabic coffee which is brewed from dark beans and flavoured with cardamom. 

Share your experience, participate in the discussion and leave comments in our forum HERE .

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Author: KashGo
Expat Mum in the Desert and content writer for

For other discussions, advice, question, point of view, get together, etc...: please use the forum.

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