Article: Goodbye to Doha, Qatar – See You Again in 2020!

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By Paul Yarden | 26 DEC 2019

The 2019 FIFA Club World Cup in Doha, Qatar was an outstanding success but there are still areas which can be improved upon ahead of next year’s tournament. The lessons learnt will stand Qatar in good stead when the 2022 FIFA World Cup comes around. This article will examine various aspects will be of interest to football fans and visitors.

The Stadiums

Only two stadiums were used for the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, home of Al-Saad SC, with a capacity of just under 13,000 and the Khalifa International Stadium with a 46,000 capacity. The Khalifia Stadium will be one of the eight venues for the 2022 World Cup Finals.

Security at both venues was very tight but generally well-organised. Entry to the venues took as long as 20 minutes and this has to be improved upon ahead of the World Cup in 2022. The crowds were very well-behaved and there was a friendly rivalry between opposing supporters. Overall, it was a very positive experience.

Access for the disabled needs improving and will be one of the issues I’d like to see upgraded by 2020.

Hotels

Many of the top quality hotels were fully-booked for the tournament. There is obviously a shortage of rooms for the 2022 World Cup but there will be several new hotels opening-up in the next three years.

Plans are underway to have cruise liners docked in Doha for the duration of the tournament to provide temporary accommodation. Serious thought has to be made to provide budget options for the 2022 World Cup.

Hospitality

Almost everyone you will meet in Qatar will be a Foreign Worker, from the taxi drivers to the Hotel staff and from the Metro employees to the construction workers. There are only around 330,000 Qatari Citizens (about the same number of people who live in Bolton), while the number of Foreign Workers is about two million.

People will go out of their way to help you and the standard of service is second to none. Everyone we talked to was happy to be in Qatar and earning around six times what they could hope to get in their home countries. The foreign exchange counters were always busy with people transferring money back home to their families.

Weather

The weather in Doha for the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup was perfect for football. Daytime temperatures reached a high of 25 degrees Celsius but were significantly cooler for the evening matches. It rained for some of the days during the tournament and sometimes the evenings were decidedly chilly.

As the 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals will be played at around the same time from 21st November to 18th December (Qatar’s National Day) there will be no concerns about it being too hot to play football.

Transportation

The Doha Metro system coped very well with the crowds for the Club World Cup and there were plenty of taxi options available. The Metro system was free to use with presentation of match tickets. The roads to the stadiums were very busy indeed and parking was something of a problem.

The fact that all eight of the 2022 World Cup venues are within a 34 mile radius will mean that it’s possible for dedicated football fans to attend three different matches in the same day – something that no other FIFA World Cup Finals in history has offered.

A word of advice for pedestrians though – crossing roads must be done with caution as drivers have little patience, so please take great care!

Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks are available at very reasonable prices at the official FIFA Fan Zones. Top end hotel bars and restaurants supply alcohol but at higher cost. Only foreign residents are allowed to buy alcohol from the only registered supplier for domestic use, which means you won’t be able to buy from the local supermarkets.

It is well to remember that Qatar is an Islamic country and the authorities won’t take kindly to public displays of drunken behaviour.

Dress

There are no restrictions on dress in Qatar but one should be attired in a respectful manner when visiting sensitive areas such as Mosques or the Islamic Museum. Qatar has many beaches where Western style swimwear is perfectly acceptable.

Leaving Qatar

Hamad International Airport is an amazing building and the procedure when leaving was very efficient. It can be reached via the Metro system or by taxi. Terminal 1 is for Qatar Airways First & Business Classes, Terminals 2 & 3 are for Qatar Airways Economy Class while Terminal 4 is for all other Airlines.

The check-in staff were very friendly & efficient and the passport control procedure only took a minute or two.

Alcoholic drinks are available in the numerous Duty Free shops and you might fancy your chances of winning a luxury supercar in the lottery. A McLaren 720S was up for grabs for the cost of a $180 ticket.

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