As fans trickle into Qatar, they’re understandably in holiday mode as they look forward to the prospect of a desert Globe Cup.
But where best to stay within a country that is geographically on a peninsula smaller than Connecticut and is the smallest World Cup host in history?
The scramble for accommodation is likely to hot up given Qatar is set to welcome an estimated 1 . 5 million followers over the month-long tournament, which begins on November 20.
Jimmy plus Kennis Leung were among the very first fans to arrive at the Fan Village Cabins Free Zone, one of the particular largest sites available to supporters, checking in on Thursday.
“They’ve built this within a desert, ” Jimmy told CNN Sport, as he scanned his accommodation space, which he was impressed by.
“It is too expensive to stay in a hotel or AirBnB in Doha so this was a great option. ”
The Totally free Zone fan village is around twenty minutes by metro from downtown Doha but at the moment it’s a bit like entering a dystopian world.
There is precious little else around the village – one or two building sites and a main road – so staff quickly direct you to the reception, which will be a 10-minute walk across a vast car park.
There is an endless lines of portacabins, organized into different colors and mapped in alphabetical order, stretching in to the distance, with large gazebos containing hundreds of empty tables and chairs.
Basketball courts, outdoor gyms and a huge television screen are dotted round the complex where enthusiasts can play and relax.
When CNN visited upon Friday, only a handful of fans were milling around, though many more are expected over the course of the tournament.
Navigation is also proving a little problematic – the particular Leungs admit to getting lost in the seemingly endless makeshift roads that connect the village. There are, although, electric scooters to get around plus staff will even drive you in order to your door in a golf buggy.
The Leungs work in the particular media and have traveled through Hong Kong to watch their favorite team, the Netherlands, at Qatar 2022.
“It’s very quiet right now but there are food options and the rooms are nice, but a bit small, ” Kennis adds.
As supporters like the Leungs grapple with finding their feet in Qatar on Friday, they were greeted by the news that soccer’s world governing body FIFA had performed a U-turn and that no alcohol will certainly be sold at the eight stadiums which will host the particular tournament’s 64 matches.
For those supporters on a budget and are unable to afford what’s on offer from hotels, eight lover villages provide “casual camping and cabin-style” options.
Some World Mug visitors, however , were less impressed with what was available.
“There are so many cabins plus containers and there’s a big screen that we can all watch the games together but the particular accommodation, well … What can I say? ” Fei Peng from China, who is usually here to watch over 30 Planet Cup games, told CNN Sport.
“This is the best option that we can afford. It’s so expensive in Doha so we cant expect more. ”
One night in the Free Zone fan village cabin starts at $207 a night, according to the Qatar World Cup’s Official Accommodation Agency, but cheaper options can be found at Caravan City, in $114 the night.
And if your heart is set on camping out under the stars, a tent within the Al Khor village is available for $423 a night.
If you’re not on the budget, a self-described “eco farm” hut will offer a more luxurious option at $1, 023 a night , while a stay on the cruise ship will set you back at least $179.
Many fans are expected stay in neighboring countries in order to Qatar, flying in plus out of the Gulf state for matches.
Qatar Airways announced in May that it had partnered with regional carriers to launch 160 extra daily return flights at “competitive prices” that will shuttle fans from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh.
There may be simply no baggage check-in facilities in order to speed up the transfers and dedicated transportation services will be made available to get fans from the airport to stadiums.
It will also be possible in order to drive through cities like Riyadh, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, all of which are under seven hours away.
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Those coming to Doha will have to contend with the heat.
The tournament was moved to the winter months because of scorching summer temperatures – the average high in Doha in the second half of November is around 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), which is much better than in July, when the particular World Glass would normally conclude, when the typical high temperature is about 42 degrees C (106 levels Fahrenheit).
Even in winter season the heat is energy sapping, if you come from a colder clime. Walk too far, too quickly plus you’ll soon find yourself drenched in sweat and in need of hydration.
Shade is definitely king and tournament staff, dotted around Doha, are very quick to advise you to remain out of direct sunlight.
The heat tends to die down a little, even though not much, within the evenings and the nights are usually humid plus sticky.
Fortunately, Doha can be fully equipped with air conditioning inside stadiums and the particular white wall architecture can also help deflect some of the heat’s intensity.
With just two days to go until the first match, the nation is putting the final touches to its preparations as it braces itself for a World Cup like no other.
Amy Woodyatt and Eoin McSweeney contributed reporting.