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


Doha, Qatar
CNN

As fans flock to Qatar, they are understandably in holiday mode as they look forward to the prospect of a desert World Cup.

But what better place to stay than on a geographically smaller peninsula than Connecticut and in the smallest World Cup host country in history?

The scramble for accommodation is likely to heat up as Qatar prepares to welcome 1.5 million fans to the month-long tournament, which begins on November 20.

Jimmy and Kennis Leung were among the first fans to arrive at the Fan Village Cabins Free Zone, one of the largest sites available to supporters, checking out Thursday.

“They built this in a desert,” Jimmy told CNN Sport as he scanned the space in his shelter.

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

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

There’s precious little else around the village – one or two building sites and a main road – so staff quickly direct you to the reception, which is a 10-minute walk through a large car park.

Organized in different colors and mapped alphabetically, there are endless lines of portacabins with huge gazebos containing hundreds of empty tables and chairs, stretching into the distance.

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Basketball courts, an outdoor gym and a large TV screen are dotted around the complex where fans can play and relax.

Reached by CNN on Friday, only a handful of fans were around, though many more were expected during the tournament.

Container living in the desert ... World Cup style.

Mobility also proves somewhat problematic – Leung admits to getting lost on the endless makeshift roads that connect the village. However, there are electric scooters to get around and the staff will bring you to your door in a golf buggy.
The Leungs work in the media and have 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, the rooms are good, but a bit small,” adds Kennis.

As sports fans like the Leungs struggled to find their feet in Qatar on Friday, they were greeted by news that soccer’s world governing body FIFA had made a U-turn and alcohol would not be sold in the eight stadiums hosting the tournament’s 64. Competitions.

For supporters on a budget and unable to afford what hotels offer, eight Fan villages offer “casual camping and cabin-style” options.

However, some World Cup viewers were less than impressed with what was on offer.

“There’s a lot of cabins and containers and a big screen where we can all watch the games together, but the accommodation, well … what can I say?” China’s Fei Peng, who is 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 is very expensive in Doha so we can’t expect more.

One night in the Free Zone fan village cabin starts at $207 per night, but cheaper options can be found at Caravan City for $114 per night, according to Qatar World Cup’s official accommodation agency.

If your heart is 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” hut offers a more luxurious option at $1,023 per night., Staying on a cruise ship will get you back at least $179.

The cabin container comes with beds and air conditioning.

Many fans are expected to stay in Qatar’s neighboring countries, flying 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 to fans from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh at “competitive prices”.

There will be no baggage check-in facilities to expedite transfers and dedicated transport services will be provided to bring sports fans from the airport to the stadiums.

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It will also be possible to drive from cities like Riyadh, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in less than seven hours.
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Visitors to Doha have to contend with the heat.

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

Even in winter, if you come from a cold climate, the heat will reduce energy. Walk too far, too quickly, and you’ll quickly become drenched in sweat and need hydration.

Shade is king and tournament staff, dotted around Doha, are quick to advise you to stay out of direct sunlight.

In the evening and at night it is humid and sticky, although not too much, the heat decreases a little.

Fortunately, Doha is fully air-conditioned inside the stadiums, and the white-walled architecture helps deflect some of the intense heat.

With the first match just two days away, the nation is putting the finishing touches to its preparations as it prepares for a World Cup unlike any other.

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