As the fans gush Qatar, It is understood that they are in vacation mode as they look forward to the prospect of a World Cup in the desert.
But what better place to stay in a country geographically located on a peninsula smaller than Connecticut, the smallest World Cup host nation in history?
The struggle over accommodation is likely to intensify given that Qatar is set to host an estimated 1.5 million fans over the course of the month-long tournament, which begins on November 20.
Jimmy and Kennis Leung were among the first fans to arrive at Fan Village Cabins Free Zone, one of the largest spots available to fans, as they checked in Thursday.
“They built this in a desert,” Jimmy told CNN Sport, as he checked out his residence, which he was impressed with.
“It’s very expensive to stay in a hotel or AirBnB in Doha, so this was a great option.”
Fan Village is located in the free zone about 20 minutes by metro from downtown Doha but at the moment it is a bit like stepping into a dystopian world.
There’s nothing else precious about the village – one or two construction sites and a major road – so the staff direct you quickly to reception, which is a 10-minute walk away via an ample car park.
Endless lines of mobile cabins, arranged in various colors and marked in alphabetical order, stretch into the distance, with large gazebos containing hundreds of empty tables and chairs.
Basketball courts, outdoor gymnasiums and a huge screen TV are dotted around the complex where fans can play and relax.
When CNN visited on Friday, there were only a few fans hanging around, though it’s expected that there will be more during the tournament.
Navigation also proves a bit problematic – Leungs admits to getting lost in the endless makeshift roads that connect the village. There are electric scooters to get around though and the staff will take you to your door in a golf cart.
Leung works in the media and they traveled from Hong Kong to watch their favorite team, the Netherlands, at Qatar 2022.
“It’s pretty quiet at the moment but there are food options and the rooms are nice, but a bit small,” adds Kennis.
As fans like The Lions struggled to find their feet in Qatar on Friday, they were cheered by the news that FIFA had made an inverted U-turn and that no alcohol would be sold at the eight stadiums that will host the 64 tournament. sulfur.
For those on a budget and unable to afford what hotels have to offer, eight Fan villages offer “casual camping and cabin” options.
However, some World Cup visitors were less than impressed with what was on offer.
“There are plenty of cabins and enclosures and there’s a big screen that we can all watch the games together but the accommodations are, well… what can I say?” Fei Peng from China, who came here to watch more than 30 World Cup matches, told CNN Sport.
“This is the best option we can afford. It is very expensive in Doha so we cannot expect more.”
A night in Free Zone fan village cabins starts at $207 per night, according to Qatar’s official World Cup accommodation agency, but cheaper options can be found in Caravan City, at $114 per night.
And if you feel like camping under the stars, a tent is available at Creek Village for $423 per night.
If you’re not on a budget, an “eco-farmhouse” cottage will provide you with a more luxurious option at $1,023 per night.And the While staying on a cruise ship will cost you at least $179.
Many fans are expected to remain in Qatar’s neighboring countries, traveling to and from the Gulf country for matches.
Qatar Airways announced in May that it had partnered with regional airlines to launch an additional 160 daily “competitively priced” return flights that will carry fans from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh.
There will be no checked baggage facilities to expedite transfers and dedicated shuttle services will be provided to transport fans from the airport to the stadiums.
It will also be possible to drive from cities such as Riyadh, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, all less than seven hours away.
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Those coming to Doha will have to deal with the heat.
The tournament has been moved to the winter months due to the scorching summer temperatures – the average high in Doha in the second half of November was around 28°C (82°F), much better than in July, when the World Cup usually takes place. is being. Infer, when the average high temperature is around 42°C (106°F).
Even in winter, heat drains energy if you’re coming from a colder climate. Walk too far, too fast, and you’ll soon find yourself drenched in sweat and in need of hydration.
Shade is king and the tournament staff, who are located all over Doha, are quick to advise you to stay out of direct sunlight.
The heat tends to wane a little, but not much, in the evening, though the nights are damp and sticky.
Fortunately, Doha is fully equipped with air conditioning inside the stadiums and the white wall architecture will also help deflect some of the intensity of the heat.
With only two days left until the first match, the nation is finalizing its preparations as it prepares for the World Cup like no other.