Heading to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar? Here’s all you need to know

Doha, Sep 30 (EFE).- With less than two months to go before the ball starts rolling in Qatar’s Lusail as the 2022 World Cup gets underway, Efe has compiled a list of top tips to make your experience as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.  

First off, in order to enter the country you must secure a visa and Hayya card — a fan ID. Hayya cards are only issued once you present a match ticket and proof of accommodation reservation. 

1.- TICKETS

Nearly 2.5 million tickets have already been sold for World Cup matches. Fans can still snap up more on the Qatar 2022 website or FIFA’s portal.

All the World Cup stadiums are within a few kilometers of each other and are connected by public transport, so fans can aim to watch several matches in a day, a first in the history of the tournament and a source of pride for the organizers.

So far, the countries leading ticket purchases are the host Qatar, followed by the United States, England, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. Argentina and Brazil, two of the favorites to win, are among the 10 countries that have bought the most tickets for the tournament.

The Argentina-Mexico and Argentina-Saudi Arabia matches have already sold out as fans scramble to secure a spot to watch football legend Lionel Messi’s last World Cup.

“There are about 600,000 tickets left to sell. Many will go to Fifa, sponsors and some teams will request more tickets, but the rest will be put up for sale”, the CEO of the World Cup, Nasser Al-Khater, tells Efe.

Soccer fans cheer during the ceremony of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup countdown clock, marking 100 days to go till the beginning of the tournament in Doha, Qatar, 12 August 2022. EFE/EPA/NOUSHAD THEKKAYIL

2.- ACCOMMODATION: HOW TO BOOK AND WHICH AREA TO CHOOSE

In addition to the traditional online tourism platforms, the World Cup organizers and the Qatari government are offering myriad options for all budgets on a bespoke website.

All the stadiums are very close to each other, so choosing an area will depend on what sort of experience you are after. 

Downtown Doha revolves around the vibrant Souq Waqif, a market where past and present meet and where you will be able to soak up the Qatari way of life. 

Al Sadd, west of Doha’s old town, is the area preferred by expats. Here you will find mid-range accommodation, international and local shops, boutiques and restaurants. 

If you want to be dazzled by Qatar’s futuristic skyline, West Bay is your spot. The Doha Corniche is bursting with international shops and mid-range, high-end and luxury facilities to suit all tastes and budgets. 

Another very characteristic area is The Pearl, which boasts some of the capital’s top restaurants and hotel chains. 

“From this portal that we launched in March 2022 you can reserve your ticket for the match, accommodation and request the ‘Hayya card’ that grants access to the country and the stadiums”, highlights Omar Al-Jaber, Executive Director of Accommodation for Qatar 2022.

– Hotels range from 1 to 5 stars, international and local chains, traditional hotels in Arab style and those with technology at their core. The possibilities are endless with locations in the city center, remote neighborhoods, the beach or the islands and lagoons.

– Two large cruise ships with almost 4,000 rooms and a capacity for 9,500 people are offering accommodation in Doha port, near the souk and the country’s two main museums, the National Museum of Qatar and the Museum of Islamic Art. Prices start at $179 dollars.

– Apartments and Villas are a good option for those seeking private accommodation at a range of different prices. These range from one to six bedroom homes with all kinds of amenities including free Wi-Fi, swimming pools, playgrounds for kids or a cleaning service every 3 days. According to Al-Jaber this is the best option for families with children but also for groups of friends. Prices start at $84 for an apartment for 2 people.

– Fan Villages are perhaps the quirkiest option. Caravans, cabins and Arabian luxury camping facilities have been set up on the fringes and center of the city and are well connected to public transport links. This is the best option for those who want to soak up the World Cup atmosphere and enjoy it with other fans. Prices range from $110 for a caravan to $400 for traditional tents.

– Fan Village Heenat Salma is for the eco-conscious fans keen to escape the hustle and bustle of the tournament at this rural oasis some 18km from the city center where visitors can enjoy organic cuisine, agricultural workshops and wellness treatment sessions from $2,000 a night for two people.

A view of the Lusail Iconic Stasdium, the venue for the World Cup final in Doha, Qatar, 9 September, 2022. EFE/Alberto Estévez

3.- HAYYA CARD, A NEW USER EXPERIENCE

Now that you have tickets and accommodation, it’s time to register for your Hayya card on https://hayya.qatar2022.qa/. “It’s like an upgraded version of the fan idea that happens in the previous events,” the director of the Hayya platform, Saeed Al Kuwari says.

Hayya, which roughly translates as “Come on!”, is a digital and physical pass that will allow fans to access the country, use the metro and bus services for free, and enter the stadiums for the duration of the tournament. 

“Once you upload or download the app and you activate your digital, you will be able to use all the services that you need to be here in Qatar restaurants, stadiums and events going to be around you. And also we will be sending out some smart notifications that the fan might use during his stay”, adds Al Kuwari.

According to Al Kuwari, the first step is to buy a ticket. After buying it, fans can book accommodation. The third step is to apply for Hayya. If you skip booking accommodation you will only be granted conditional approval.

4.- ARRIVAL IN DOHA

Qatar has a desert climate: hot and humid in the summer months and pleasant temperatures in the winter. During the winter tournament, temperatures will hover around 24C, perfect for exploring the city and country. But it is important to know some basic details of Qatari culture.

– Clothes: You can wear whatever clothes you want, but in public spaces it is recommended that both men and women cover their shoulders and pants reach below the knees. In the stadiums fans will not be allowed to remove their shirts.

– Alcohol: Qataris have restricted the use of alcohol but are very hospitable. Restaurants with an alcohol license and the “fan zone” will be places where alcohol can be purchased and consumed. Fans should note that drinking alcohol beyond designated areas is prohibited. Alcohol cannot be brought into Qatar either, so it is better not to carry anything in your luggage or it will be confiscated at the airport.

– Public displays of affection: You can hold hands but displays of affection in public are not part of the local culture. It is better to be somewhat restrained so as not to offend anyone.

– Photographs: When taking photos, it is advisable to ask for permission before photographing or filming people on the street or in stadiums. Taking photos of government buildings is banned.

– Weekends: In Qatar the weekend is on Friday and Saturday and the week starts on Sunday. On Friday banks and other services will be closed and some stores usually close during the midday prayer, plan your purchases so as not to be surprised.

“I think people who understand the culture, they’ll come here and they will respect the culture. But also we’re very welcoming and we’re very hospitable. So everything is available here in Qatar for fans, people in general, not just fans. We have a lot of Europeans, a lot of North Americans, South Americans, people from Asia. They live here and they’re comfortable here. And that’s why they see Qatar as one of the safest countries in the world, the safest country in the Arab world,” says the CEO of the World Cup, Nasser Al-Khater.

Al-Khater is convinced that the country is ready to welcome the nearly 1.2 million fans set to arrive for the World Cup: “It’s been an exciting time for the country with a lot of buzz and a lot of energy.” Now all that remains is for the ball to start rolling. Hayya Hayya!EFE

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