Things You Should Know Before You Travel to Qatar in 2022

Introduction

Let me guess this. You landed on this page because you want to travel to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. You probably want to do some ground work to understand the feasibility of traveling to Qatar in 2022. You would be glad to know that we are on the same boat as well. In this article we have complied what we have learned so far about Qatar. What do we think about the feasibility. So, let’s dive in.

Few words about the Bid

Qatar is not known to be a footballing giant in Asia unlike Iran, Japan or Korea. There has been a debate on how Qatar got to host the world cup. Many thought Qatar does not have adequate infrastructure to host the world cup. In fact, there have been allegations that corruption involved in the bidding process. Investigations are going on and only time will shed light on those part.

For now, let see who the bidders were. They were Qatar, USA, South Korea, Japan, Australia. There were 4 rounds of voting each round eliminated one nation. The order of elimination was Australia – Japan-South Korea – United States (One of the host nations for the 2026 FIFA World Cup). Interestingly among the final five bidders, four of them were from AFC nations (Australia is technically OFC nation though). So, whatever would have been the outcome, as Indians, you had to less chances of leaving your continent to see the FIFA World Cup.

Geographical Location

Talking about the geography, Qatar is the smallest country ever to host the FIFA World Cup. If you look at Qatar on a map, it is a peninsula with an area of 11,581 km2. It is located in the Persian Gulf. The capital of Qatar is Doha. It shares a border with only Saudi Arabia, on its south. The other countries which are located close by are the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Qatar Map

Climate

Qatar has long summers, starting from May till September. The temperature during the summer sometimes goes up to 50 °C (122 °F). Conditions keep altering between humid and dryness. During the rest of the year, temperature ranges from anywhere between 39 °C (102 °F) to 7 °C (45 °F). Since the country is mostly desert land it cools down very fast. This sometimes causes a drastic difference of temperature between the day and night.

Even though FIFA usually happens in summer, due to this extreme heat in the summer, the FIFA world Cup will take place in the winter from 21 Nov 2022 to 18 Dec 2022.

Flight

Qatar Airways is the flag bearer airlines of Qatar. Qatar Airways runs direct flights to Doha (Hamad International Airport) from all major cities in India (Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore). Direct Qatar Airways flight from  Kolkata and Chennai can be very expensive (60K INR-65K INR/ 810 $ t0 877$). We will suggest to go for connecting flights offered by other airlines. From our research, we found that direct flights from Mumbai is the cheapest. Indigo Airlines offers you return tickets as cheap as 16K INR. Connecting flights from other cities are within the range of 20-22K INR. Of course, these prises are dynamic and will vary when you actually buy the tickets. Demands will be higher during the FIFA world Cup. This is only to give you an idea while you are budgeting for your World Cup Trip.

Qatar Airways Boeing 787

Currency

The currency of Qatar is Qatari Riyal. Interestingly, Qatar had used the Indian Rupee in the form of Gulf Rupee till 1966. They introduced their own currency only after India government devaluated the Gulf Rupee in 1966.

Qatari Riyal

Anyways let’s not dwell to much in the past.  Let’s get some insight into the currency:

  • The symbols of Qatari Riyals are QR or ر.ق
  • The lower decimals of the Qatari Riyal are called dirhams. 100 dirhams make 1 Riyal.
  • Bank notes of Qatari Riyals are available for 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 riyals.
  • Coins are available for 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 dirhams.

As of the day on publishing this article, 1 QR = 20.26 INR and $1 USD = 3.64 QR.

You can check out this article, where we have discussed how we carried cash to Russia. Some of the points are specific to Russia but it will give you an overall idea for carrying cash to foreign countries as a budget traveller.

Host Cities, Stadiums and tourist attractions

Cities in seven municipalities will host the FIFA World Cup 2022. Let’s look at them one by one and see what tourist attractions in each of them are.

  • Lusail

Lusail is a city in the municipality of Al Daayen. It is one of the major urban locations in Qatar. This is a one of the planned cities in Qatar and it is still in its infancy. It is situated 23 Kms north of the Doha city on the east coast of Qatar. The plans of development of Lusail City was announced only in 2005. As of 2018 80% of the construction work has been completed. Lusail and the municipality of Al Daayen is a well-connected by road and rail route.

Lusail city

Lusail doesn’t have a lot to offer to the tourists. But there are some parks and museum being constructed specially in Lusail keeping in mind the FIFA 2022 World Cup. Apart from these, you will find some traditional villages in Umm Qarn, Tenbek etc.

The FIFA venue of Lusail City will be Lusail Iconic Stadium.

At present, construction work is going in full swing since April 2017. The stadium is planned to have a capacity of 86250 for the FIFA World Cup and later will be reconfigured to a capacity of 20,000. The stadium has almost a circular structure. The outer enclosure is inspired from the sail of a traditional Dhow boat. It is encircled with water bodies like moats that are present in castles. There are small foot bridges build to cross the moat. The parking area is covered with canopies with solar panels on them. This will produce energy and lighting required when there is a match in the stadium. The unused power will also be distributed to neighbouring areas. The expected finish date of the project is February 2019. Architect of the stadium is Foster + Partners with MANICA Architecture.

Lusail Sports Arena

Matches Planned: The stadium will host the opening and final games of the tournament.

  • Doha

Doha is the capital city of Qatar. It is situated on the east coast of the country and has a population of 1.5 million. More than 50% of the country’s population lives in Doha or its surrounding suburbs. The city houses the only commercial International Airport, the Hamad International Airport. Doha is also the home to famous Arabic news channel Al Jazeera.

Infrastructure wise, it is not behind big cosmopolitan cities in the west. The city is well connected with roads. It also has a very modern metro rail service consisting of four lines- Red, Gold, Blue and Green.

Doha City

A recent research revealed that Doha is the 10th most expensive city to live in globally. The real estate cost has sky rocketed after Qatar has been selected as FIFA World Cup host.

The following are the major tourist attraction of Doha:

Museum of Islamic Art

The museum has a collection which are more than 1400 years old. The collections are majorly from three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa). This museum is not a religious institute but has a prayer room. The usual timings of the museum are 9 am to 7pm and entry is free. Please check their website for further information.

View of Museum of Islamic Art Qatar from above

Souq Waqif

The name translates in English as “the standing market”. It is basically a market place. It was founded more than a century ago but most of it was destroyed in a fire. The government initiated a restoration process which was completed in 2008. Since then, it has become one of the major tourist attractions in Doha. You will find lots of traditional garments, handicrafts and numerous restaurants are there in the Souq Waqif. Check out this website it is a complete guide to the Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif Doha

Doha Corniche

It will remind you of the Mumbai Marine drive. It is a stretch of 7 Km promenade along the Doha bay. It is a nice place to stroll around in the “winters”. It has a view of numerous skyscrapers and the iconic Sheraton Hotel. We assume that it will quite be crowded during the FIFA world Cup.

Doha Corniche

Desert Safari

This is probably a must try for all tourist visiting Qatar. There are numerous private tour operators who conducts these safaris in the Qatar Saudi border deserts. Activities include Dune bashing, camel rides, exotic Arabic food belly desert camping etc.

Desert Safari

Doha houses 4 of the FIFA World Cup 2022 stadiums. Let’s look at the stadiums:

Khalifa International Stadium

The Khalifa stadium was originally build in 1976. It is an athletic stadium which has hosted many major sports tournament (such as Asian Games, Gulf Cup, AFC Asian Cup) since its inception. This stadium is well connected and already has a good infrastructure which has been enhanced further. The stadium was renovated for FIFA 2022 World Cup and reopened on May 2017. The capacity of the stadium is 40,000. The stadium is located 10 KM from the Doha City Centre.

Khalifa Stadium Doha

Matches planned: Group matches, round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals

Sports City stadium

The construction of this stadium is going on. The stadium is Designed by Dan Meis and Buro Happold is appointed as structural engineer. The stadium will have the capacity of 46,890.

Sports City Stadium Complex

Matches planned: Group matches, 3rd place playoff

Ras Abu Aboud Stadium

This stadium is being constructed in Doha solely for FIFA 2022 World Cup. The Stadium is being build using recycled shipping containers and will be dismantled after the world is over. The planned capacity of the stadium is 40,000. The architectural planning of the stadium is done by Fenwick Iribarren Architects

Ras Abu Aboud Stadium Model

Matches planned: Group matches, round of 16, quarter-finals

Qatar University Stadium

This is a multipurpose stadium within Qatar University. It is primary used for football and other athletic events. The current capacity of the stadium is 7000. After being selected as one of the venues for FIFA World Cup 2022 it is being majorly renovated. The capacity of the stadium is planned to be increased to 44,950.

Qatar University Stadium Current Status

Matches planned: Group matches, round of 16

  • Al Khor

Al Khor municipality is situated 60 km north of the capital Doha. It is houses one of the major cities of Qatar , the Al Khor city. Before Qatar’s independence, it was ruled by the Al Muhannadi tribe. Recently the city gained popularity as a tourist destination. The city has some world class roads and connected to Doha by Metro rail.

Al Khor City

The municipality has 7 parks, the biggest among them is the Al Khor Park with an area of 240,000 sq. metre. Another tourist location is the Al Khor Island is a ecotourism destination with wonderful landscape.

Al khor Stadium

This stadium is the home to the Al Khor Sports Club with a current capacity of the stadium being only 12,000. Matches of Qatar Star league are played in this stadium. The stadium will undergo major renovation for the tournament.

Al Khor Stadium Now

Matches planned: Group matches, round of 16

  • Al Rayyan

It is the 3rd largest municipality of the country. The capital of the municipality is Al Rayyan City. It is situated on the west of Doha and stretches all the way to the west of the country.

The municipality is known to have numerous forts. The famous Al Wajbah Fort is situated in here. It is located 15 Km on the west of Doha. The fort was built in 1893 and is historically important because this where the Qatari Army had defeated the Ottoman Army.

Al Rayyan

One of the major attractions here is the Aspire Park.

Aspire park is the biggest park in Doha. The park is full of greenery and is suitable for family outings and picnics.

Aspire Park

It also houses the Villaggio Mall.

This is the biggest shopping mall in Doha. The mall has more than 200 stores. All the international brands that you can think of is available here. Like any other mall, it has food courts and movie theatre. Interestingly it also houses a theme park for kids called the Gondola Theme Park. It has boat rides in which are inspired from Venice. All in all, it is a good place to spend some quality time.

Villagio Mall

Al Rayyan houses 3 of the FIFA World Cup 2022 stadiums. Let’s look at the stadiums

Qatar Foundation Stadium/ Education City Stadium:

This is a proposed stadium to be built in the campus of the Qatar Foundation’s Education City university. Apart from fan staying in Doha, the stadium can be easily accessed by fans living in Bahrain as it is only 50 minutes by train. The planned capacity of the stadium is 45,350. After the World Cup, the stadium will retain only 25,000 seats. The Architect of the stadium is Mark Fenwick and Javier Iribarren.

Qatar Foundation Stadium Artist Image

Matches planned: Group matches, round of 16

Thani bin Jassim Stadium/ Al-Gharrafa Stadium

This is a multipurpose stadium in this district, but it is mostly used for football matches. The Stadium was opened in 2003 and is home to the Al-Gharrafa football team. The current capacity of the stadium is 21,175. The stadium will be extended to the second tier and will have the capacity of 44,740. However, the second tier will be built such that it can be easily dismantled once the tournament is over. The exterior of the Stadium will bear the colours of the flag of the nations that will qualify for the tournament.

Al-Gharrafa Stadium Artist Impression

Matches planned: Group matches.

Ahmed bin Ali Stadium/ Al Rayyan Stadium

This is a multipurpose stadium and is home to the Al Rayyan Sports Club. It hosts Qatar start league matches. The stadium is being renovated as part of the FIFA World Cup Project. The capacity of the stadium will be increased from 21,282 to 44,750. The stadium is being constructed as a joint venture between Al-Balagh and L&T.

Al Rayyan Stadium Now

Matches planned: Group matches

  • Umm Salal

Umm Salal municipality is located 15 Km north west of the capital Doha. The major city in this municipality is Umm Salal Ali. Umm Salal has many historical and heritage sites.

Residential Area of Umm Salal

 

The most popular historical site of Umm Salal is the Barzan Towers.

These are watch towers situated in the suburbs of Doha in the village of Umm Salal Mohammad. The towers are known to be built in early 20th Century with the purpose of protecting local waters and serve as an observatory. Though the actual purpose is still not very clear. The word Barzan translates in English as “the high place”.

Barzan Towers

It is also known to have five parks. The most popular park is the Umm Salal Park which stretches over an area of 12,272 sq. metre. This municipality has three protected forest area and is on the way to build the world’s largest man-made forest.

Umm Salal stadium

The Umm Salal Stadium is a proposed football stadium in the Umm Salal Municipality. It will have a capacity of 45,120. The design of the stadium is inspired from traditional Arabian Forts. After the World Cup, the capacity will be decreased to 25,000. This stadium will serve as the home ground of Umm Salal F.C which currently do not have its own stadium. The stadium is designed by Albert Speer & Partner GmbH.

Matches planned: Group matches, round of 16, quarter-finals

  • Al Wakrah

This municipality is located on the south of Doha and the capital city is Al Wakrah city. Al Wakrah was a fishing and pearling village. Over the years with development, it is currently the second largest city in Qatar.

Al Wakrah city

The main attraction of the Al Wakrah is the heritage village. The village is a water front and includes the Al Wakrah Souq and Al Wakrah Corniche.

Al-Wakrah Stadium

This is a new stadium that is being built near the vicinity of Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium/ Al-Wakrah SC Stadium. This stadium will have the capacity of 45,120. After the FIFA World Cup, the stadium will become the home ground for the Al Wakrah Sports Club who currently uses the of Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium as their home ground. The architect of the new structure is Albert Speer & Partner GmbH

Al-Wakrah Stadium Artist Impression.

Matches planned: Group matches, round of 16

  • Al Shamal

This municipality is further north of the Al Khor municipality. The capital is Madinat ash Shamal. The population of the municipality is barely over 8000.

Qatar Tourism Authority is developing the municipalities’ historic villages. This is as part of the FIFA project 2022. Al Shamal will have the country’s largest health resort covering over 2500 sq. metre. It is also known to have a number of forts. The popular among them are the Zubarah Fort and the Ar Rakiyat Fort. These forts were built in the early 20th century, they look a lot older than they actually are.

Madinat ash Shamal

Al-Shamal stadium

Al-Shamal Stadium is a new football stadium under construction solely for the FIFA World Cup. The capacity of the stadium will be 45,120. The stadium will have an interesting design which is inspired by a traditional dhow boat. The stadium gives the impression that a dhow boat is on the shore waiting to be launched.

Matches planned: Group matches

Accommodation

Many media houses have published reports that accommodation could be a problem in Qatar during the FIFA World Cup. The current capacity of the accommodations will not be able to house the huge number of fans that will some to the country during the FIFA World Cup.

Since Qatar is a very small country, you can stay in Doha and travel to the stadiums for your matches. Accommodation ranging from youth hostel to luxurious hotels are available in Doha and its surrounding suburbs. But what we found so far is that accommodation in Qatar is expensive. Even a bed in a hostel will cost you around 1200 INR. A very good hostel bed in Russia costed around 500 INR only.

 

A Spacious Hostel Lounge In St Petersburg Russia

Prices are expected to increase during the tournament. However, chances are that more budget accommodations might be arranged for FIFA WC 2022 since football lovers from all around the world to travel to Qatar and most of them will look for budget options.

Iconic Sheraton Hotel in Doha

The first thing you should do after buying match tickets is probably book your accommodation. Check out this article on money saving tips on accommodation while budget football travelling.

Visa

Usually, for visiting FIFA world cup, the visa fee is waived off. But you still had to go through the process of visa application. Russia changed the game when they introduced the FAN ID in 2018. FAN ID were compulsory documents required to enter the stadium during the match. The FAN ID also allowed VISA free entry into Russia. Interestingly this was a government initiative and not FIFA. The FAN ID concept was so successful it is likely that in future world cups we will get to see FAN ID as a standard document required to get in to the host country. Head of the Qatar 2022 Local Organizing Committee Hassan Al Thawadi said

“There are many moments that we can adopt: FAN IDs, security services’ work, the way all the services cooperate. I think that not only we will learn from Russia after this World Cup, the whole world will adopt this experience of hosting the World Cup. Russia set standards that are higher than any standards that have been set previously,”.

FIFA FanID and Passport

Only time will tell what the arrangement will be. We will keep you guys updated on any news regarding this.

Food

Qatari cuisine is one of the world’s most exotic cuisines. It is a variation of traditional Arab food. Meat seafood and dates are commonly used their dishes. The national dish of Qatar is Machboos. It is a rice preparation made with meat and seafood.

Machboos

A popular meat preparation is Ghuzi. It is a roasted lamb served with rice and it is also known as Shuwaa. Arabic coffee, the mint cocktail is popular among Qatari drinks. Hummus is popular in all Arabic countries.

Om Ali

Popular desserts include om ali (bread and rice pudding), Sago and Mehalabiya (variation of gelatin pudding). All in all, we look forward to taste the flavours of this exotic cuisine while enjoying football in the country.

Law

Law in Qatar is a bit different than what you see in western countries. So be careful and respect their law. Qatar is an Islamic state, so you should not perform any action that might hurt they citizens religious or cultural belief. Especially if you are visiting religious areas please understand the rules and regulation beforehand.

Be careful while taking pictures or making videos. If you are unsure of local rule in certain areas, please take permission.

Things you CANNOT bring into Qatar

Without going into details, let’s look at the following thing which you should not bring into Qatar:

  • Importing drugs (there is a heavy penalty of drug offense so please be careful),
  • Alcohol (Sorry you must skip the Duty-free counters while travelling to Qatar)
  • Pornography (Ahem!! I am sure you will more interested in the football during your stay in Qatar during FIFA WC. So, this won’t be much of a problem :P)
  • Pork products (Sorry pork lovers, no sausages for breakfast)
  • Religious books and material (No comments. Let’s just stop here)

If you are carrying any videos DVDs, you can expect it to be examined.

Drinking

Drinking in public or being drunk is public is illegal in Qatar. Alcohol is available in licensed shops. You can buy them and drink in your accommodation. Again, check with your accommodation authorities about in property rules. It is good to carry the receipt of your purchase of your alcohol (it may come in handy if you are questioned). Many fans are concerned that drinking will not be allowed in the stadium in Qatar. We had met a Brazilian fan in Russia who had watched four previous world cups. He mentioned that he will probably skip the Qatar World Cup because there is heavy restriction on drinking in public.

Avoid public display of affection

Kissing, hugging or even holding hands in public can get you into trouble. Kissing in public is only accepted if it is done to great a person in Qatari way (three kisses on the cheek).

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. So again, be careful with your actions.

Safety for tourist

Qatar is the 16th safest country in the world. Petty crime such as pickpocketing or theft of unattended vehicles is heard of. But violent crime in the country is rare; therefore, tourist and expats are very safe. The presence of police in the country is quite strong and will be likely increased during the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Conclusion

Qatar is one of the greatest emerging nations. But honestly, we do not think it was an appropriate choice for a FIFA World Cup Host. It does not have the footballing infrastructure required to host a tournament so big. Also, football fans look forward to great tourism experience when they travel to the world cup. However, from what we found out from our research so far, Qatar does not have much to offer in that area too. If you compare with the last few hosts like Russia, Brazil, South Africa, they are tourist’s paradise. We stayed in Russia for 15 days (check out our travel dairies and travel videos) and still we could not visit most places because the country is so huge. However, we will still travel to Qatar in 2022 and hope that Qatar proves us wrong. We plan to only watch the final stages of the tournament and not stay more than a week in the country. We cannot deny Qatar’s organizational skills when it comes to infrastructure. You shouldn’t be surprised if Qatar comes up with amazing football infrastructure and tourist spots just for the sole purpose of FIFA WC. We are looking forward to seeing what Qatar has planned for the next FIFA WC 2022. Go ahead and start planning your football travel to Qatar. Best of Luck.

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