Qatar 2022: World Cup fans acclimatize to desert accommodation — in tents and portacabins


Doha, Qatar
CNN

As fans arrive in Qatar, they are understandably in a state of relaxation as they look forward to the Desert World Cup.

But in a country that is geographically on a peninsula smaller than Connecticut and is the smallest World Cup host in history, where better to stay?

The battle for accommodation is likely to be on as Qatar welcomes around 1.5 million fans over the course of the month-long tournament, which kicks off on November 20.

Jimmy and Kennis Leung were among the first fans to enter the free area of ​​the Cabins Fan Village, one of the largest sites available to supporters, on Thursday.

“They built this in the desert,” Jimmy told CNN Sport as he scanned his impressed living room.

“Staying in a hotel or AirBnB in Doha is very expensive, so this was a great option.”

The Free Zone fan village is about 20 minutes by metro from downtown Doha, but at the same time it’s a bit like entering a dystopian world.

There is precious little around the village – a building site or two and a main road – so the staff will quickly direct you to reception, which is a 10-minute walk from a large car park.

There are endless lines of portacabins, painted in different colors and arranged alphabetically, stretching for miles, with large gazebos holding hundreds of empty tables and chairs.

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Basketball courts, outdoor sports halls and a large television screen surround the complex where fans can play and relax.

When CNN visited on Friday, only a handful of fans were milling around, though a large crowd was expected during the race.

A container living in the desert ... World Cup style.

Navigation is also a bit of a problem – the Leungs admit to getting lost on the seemingly endless roads that connect the village. However, electric scooters are available and the staff will even drive you to your door in a golf cart.
The Leungs work in the media and traveled from Hong Kong to watch their favorite team, the Netherlands, at Qatar 2022.

“It’s very quiet at the moment but there are food options and the rooms are nice but a bit small,” adds Kennis.

As fans like the Leungs struggle to find their footing in Qatar on Friday, they were greeted by news that soccer’s world governing body FIFA has made a U-turn and no alcohol will be sold in the eight stadiums that will host the 64th edition of the tournament. . matches

For those fans who are on a budget and can’t afford hotels, 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 a lot of booths and containers and there’s a big screen where we can all watch the games together, but the accommodation, well… What can I say?” Fei Peng from China, who has come here to watch more than 30 World Cup matches, told CNN Sport.

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“This is the best option we can afford. It’s very expensive in Doha, so we can’t wait any longer.”

According to the official Qatar World Cup Agency, a night in a Free Zone Fan Village cabin starts at $207 per night, but cheaper options can be found at Caravan City, starting at $114 per night.

And if you have your heart set on camping under the stars, a tent at Al Khor Village is available for $423 per night.

If you’re on a budget, a self-described “eco farm” cabin provides a luxury option for $1,023 a night., while a cruise ship stay will set you back at least $179.

The cabin container comes with a bed and air conditioning.

Many fans in neighboring countries are expected to stay in Qatar and fly in and out of the Gulf state for the matches.

Qatar Airways announced in May that it had partnered with regional airlines to launch an additional 160 daily return flights at “competitive prices” that would transport fans from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh.

There will be no baggage check-in facilities to speed up transfers and special shuttle services will be provided to transport fans from the airport to the stadiums.

It is also possible to drive from cities such as Riyadh, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, all within a seven-hour drive.
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Those who come to Doha have to deal with the heat.

The tournament was moved to the winter months due to the hot summer – Doha’s average high in mid-November is around 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), much better than July, when the World Cup is usually held. . infer that the average high temperature is about 42 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit).

Even in the winter, if you come from a colder climate, heat is an energy drain. Walk too much, too fast, and you’ll soon find yourself cracked and in need of watering.

Shade is king and race officials stationed around Doha are very quick to advise you to stay out of direct sunlight.

The temperature tends to drop a bit, though not by much, in the evening, although the nights are humid and sticky.

Fortunately, Doha is fully equipped with air conditioning inside the stadiums, and the white wall architecture will also help to reduce the heat stress.

With just two days to go until the first match, the country is putting the final touches to its preparations as it gears up for another World Cup like no other.

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