[Credit: Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 / Expat Sport]

Qatar proposes 1000 “Bedouin style” tents for World Cup fans

Qatar: The organisers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are proposing to pitch 1000 “Bedouin style” tents in the desert for football fans visiting the Emirati state for the tournament.

Ahead of the tournament, which kicks off on 21 November and lasts until 18 December, the state is expecting to welcome an estimated 1.2 million visitors, accounting for almost half of the Qatari population.

The tents would be set up around Doha, providing fans with an authentic camping experience and close access to the eight stadia holding World Cup matches, according to Omar Al-Jaber, head of accommodation at the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy for the tournament.

Al-Jaber told Reuters that around 200 tents would be in the luxurious category and would therefore command more “expensive” fees per night.

The shortage of accommodation supply in Qatar ahead of the tournament has been well documented, ever since the state was awarded the right by FIFA [football’s global governing body] to host the tournament in December 2010 in controversial circumstances.

It is believed that some 60,000 rooms in apartments and villas have been listed during the tournament [managed by Accor], as well as between 30,000 and 50,000 rooms in hotels, 9,000 beds in fan villages, and 4,000 rooms on two cruise ships.

The number of rooms in hotels available to fans are further restricted given that 80 per cent of those rooms will be allocated to guests of FIFA throughout the World Cup.

Rooms that are no longer required by teams, referees, media or other officials / delegates will be made available closer to the tournament, according to one FIFA spokesperson.

Accor’s Apartments & Villas agency says that guests can choose from one- to six-bedroom units, complete with full kitchens, living rooms and other amenities, and all accommodation meets the government’s real estate compliance standards.

That said, visiting fans have expressed concerns that remaining lodging options are in short supply and expensive, with some two-bedroom apartments on the edge of Doha costing up to $390 a night and a suite on board one of the moored cruise ships at the end of November was listed as costing $1650 a night through the Qatar World Cup’s official accommodation website.

Despite years of preparation and Doha’s significant investment in hotel lodging and infrastructure, the shortage of accommodation has led many football fans to look to neighbouring Gulf countries for alternative accommodation options, which has been made easier by the fact that match-day shuttle flight services are being set up between Doha and a number of regional cities throughout the month-long tournament. Other fans may yet decide to take ferries from other states or countries such as Bahrain.

Al-Jaber reassured fans by saying: “In total, we have more than 100,000 rooms and still there are some new options.”

Real estate consultancy firm Cushman & Wakefield released its Q1 Real Estate Market Review in May, in which it said that it expected a further 5,000 new hotel keys to be completed ahead of the World Cup in November. Moreover, the new supply, coupled with existing hotel supply and serviced apartments, would deliver “approximately 37,000 keys, or 45,000 rooms”.

The report also said by 2026 there would be more than 50,000 rooms available in the country and so far this year Qatar’s hotel and hotel apartment sectors have performed well, with an overall occupancy rate of 56 per cent in February 2022.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts recently announced its serviced apartment plans for Doha. Marriott opened its Executive Apartments, in Doha last year, Staybridge Suites made its debut in 2019.

There will be 32 teams competing in eight groups at this year’s World Cup. Qatar will become the first Middle Eastern nation and the smallest by population to stage the prestigious tournament in 2022.

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