Qatar is gearing up for a FIFA World Cup tourism boom as the tiny Gulf state prepares to welcome more than a million football fans. A complication: many of them cannot or do not want to stay there.
An accommodation shortage and low tolerance for alcohol and partying in the conservative Muslim nation means tens of thousands of fans will base themselves in neighboring countries for the month-long tournament. Matchday flights from major cities in West Asia will transport spectators to matches, benefiting airlines, hotels and hospitality venues across countries, including the United Arab Emirates, India. Saudi Arabia and Oman.
The already popular tourist hub of Dubai is the one that will benefit the most. Of the more than 90 new flights that will land in host city Doha each day, around 40 will depart from the United Arab Emirates. A new hotel built on an artificial island in the shape of a palm tree has been reserved for guests planning to settle in Dubai and take the 40-minute flight to Doha with simplified immigration procedures.
Dubai will be “the main gateway” to the World Cup with probably more people passing through the city than Qatar, said Paul Griffiths, managing director of Dubai Airports.