Getting to Qatar
As Qatar hosts the World Cup, 1.3 million fans are expected to visit the country for the mega event. While the Hamad International airport (HIA) is its main airport, the country has also opened the old Doha International airport to accommodate the surge in visitors.
Passengers arriving at HIA can take the Red line which will lead straight into central Doha from the T1 Metro Station in the airport.
Passengers arriving at Doha International can take the metro’s Gold line from the National Museum Metro Station, which is located 800m from the airport arrival terminal, straight into central Doha. There’s also a shuttle bus from the airport that operates every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, to Souq Waqif Bus Hub South.
Match day Shuttle flights: Apart from the regular scheduled services for the World Cup, there are special Match Day Shuttle flights which are dedicated for football fans that will fly them in on the day of their match and return them to their departure airport on the same day after they watch their match. These flights will operate from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait City, Muscat and Riyadh. The airlines that have teamed up with Qatar Airways for this include flydubai, Kuwait Airways, Oman Air and Saudia. Flydubai will offer 60 special match day shuttle flights daily from Dubai World Central, whereas Kuwait will operate 20 flights, Oman Air has scheduled 48 special daily flights from Muscat and Saudia will operate 40 daily flights from Riyadh and Jeddah. A typical return shuttle flight from Dubai to Doha costs around US$258 for an economy class seat. Boarding on these flights will be restricted for Hayya Card holders.
Special rules will go into effect from November 1 until December 23 at the Abu Samra Border Crossing between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. All Qatari citizens, residents and GCC nationals with a Qatari ID can enter the country through the broader crossing without needing to possess a Hayya Card, but will need to be travelling within a vehicle with a Qatari number plate.
Enter using you own car: Fans who wish to enter the country using their own vehicles, must obtain a vehicle entry permit via the Hayya platform. A mandatory requirement to obtain the permit is to show a minimum of five nights confirmed accommodation for the driver of the vehicle. Also, the vehicle must have a minimum of three people within it and a maximum of six. The cost of the permit is QAR5,000.
Park and ride: For fans entering for a maximum of 24 hours to attend a match, they can drive to the border and park their cars in a dedicated zone. Although parking is free for 24 hours, a fee of QAR1,000 will be charged for the next 24 hours and the vehicle will be towed after 48 hours. Fans have to pre-book their parking slot via the Hayya app prior to their arrival.
From the parking lot at the Abu Samra checkpoint, they can travel in Qatari buses to Doha Central Station in Al Messila which is approximately 90km from there. Alternatively, the buses can take them 2km from the border crossing to the ‘Friends Meet and Greet’ point.
Covid-19 entry requirements for incoming travellers
■ Visitors are no longer required to undergo a PCR or Rapid Antigen test prior to travelling to Qatar.
■ Citizens and residents also do not require to undergo a Rapid Antigen or PCR test within 24 hours of their arrival in the country.
■ It is mandatory however for individuals entering a healthcare facility in Qatar to display their Covid-19 status via the Ehteraz app.
The Hayya Card
It’s an absolute must-have for all fans visiting Qatar to watch a match. It doubles up as a fan ID, a visa granting entry to the country, allows entry to the stadiums on match days and gives you free access to public transport too. The Hayya Card requirements will be in effect from November 1 until January 23, and can be applied for online (hayya.qatar2022.qa).
A match ticket and confirmed accommodation (if you are going to be in the country for more than 24 hours) are required to be validated through the portal to secure the card.
Recently, the government also introduced a new Hayya with me (1+3) feature that allows international Hayya Card holders to invite up to three non-ticketed fans to enter the country. The primary Hayya Card holder must be at least 18, and each applicant travelling with the Hayya Card holder will need to pay a fee of QAR500 (not applicable for childen under the age of 12).
Travel incentives for Hayya Card holders in GCC countries:
In Saudi Arabia, holders of the Hayya Card can apply for a new visa online that will allow them a 60-day stay in Saudi beginning 10 days before the tournament. Oman meanwhile has begun free multiple-entry 60-day visas for Hayya Card holders. The UAE charges a one-time fee of Dhs100 for a multiple-entry visit visa and allows a stay of up to 90 days starting from the date of issuance of the visa.
Buses, taxis, metro, ride-hailing services (Uber and Careem), trams and rent-a-car are some of the options you can use to get around Doha during your stay in the city.
There are three tram systems that you must be aware of:
■ Lusail Tram (Saturday-Thursday 6am-3am; Friday 9am-3am) connects to the metro via Legtaifiya Station (Red Line).
■ Education City Tram operates as a park-and-ride for matches hosted by Education City Stadium.
■ Msheireb Tram connects Msheireb Metro Station to popular tourist spots located within Msheireb Downtown Doha.
The metro system has three lines – Gold, Green and Red – with services operating every three minutes from Saturday-Thursday 6am-3am; Friday 9am-3am.
Hayya Card holders can access the metro line for free from November 10-December 23.
The interchange lines are at Al Bidda (to switch between the Red and Green lines) and Msheireb (where you can change between any of the three lines).
There are free metrolink buses that operate on routes within 2-5km of stations for last-mile connectivity in the city, and some stations have dedicated car parks too.
The turquoise Karwa taxis are metered and operate round-the-clock. These can be pre-booked via Hayya to Qatar 2022 app, Karwa Taxi app or by calling (+974) 800 8294 or (+974) 4458 8888. Careem and Uber are also available to book.
Rent a car
You can find options for several car rental agents at the arrivals terminal in the airport itself. If you are driving with a non-Qatari licence, remember that you must be at least 25 and should have held a licence for a minimum of 12 months.
Alijarah Limousines offers a Pink Limousine service, which upon request allows women riders to receive a female taxi or limousine driver.
Accommodation options in Qatar
Hotels, tents, fan villages, cruise ships and holiday homes are all options for visiting fans. Bookings for these can be secured via the official portal by the government: qatar2022.qa/book
Caravan accommodation, cabin-style and casual camping options are available at the fan villages. The main fan village sites include: Qetaifan Island North, Cabins Free Zone, Al Khor, Cabins Rawdat Al Jahhaniya, Zaffran, Caravan City and Heenat Salma Farm. Most fan villages are served by a complimentary shuttle bus service from the closest metro over the course of the tournament.
Prices: Approximately QAR400-QAR7,300 per night.
The brand-new LNG-powered MSC World Europa will be docked at Doha’s Grand Cruise Terminal, as will the MSC Poesia. From ocean-view and balcony cabins to luxurious suites, these cruise ships will offer several onboard dining and entertainment options, spa and swimming pool access, movie screens, sports arenas and more.
Prices: Cabins onboard the five-star MSC World Europa start at QAR1,240 a night, whereas they begin at QAR640 onboard the four-star MSC Poesia vessel.
While the city has witnessed several stunning properties come to life just ahead of the World Cup – not least the landmark destination of the Katara Towers which house the new Raffles and Fairmont properties in Doha – most of the city’s luxury hotels have been booked by visiting official delegations, teams and in some cases big corporates who are hosting their top clients. There are still hotels that you can book via the official accommodation portal, but some are already sold out. Expect rooms to become more readily available over the course of the tournament as teams are knocked out.
Prices: Approximately QAR550 for three-star properties.
Apartment and Villas
With options of studios going all the way up to five bedrooms, there are serviced apartment and villas with housekeeping services, complimentary wifi, fully equipped kitchens and bathroom amenities. However, some properties have a minimum mandatory booking of three nights.
Prices: It ranges from approximately QAR300 for a studio apartment to QAR3,450 for a five-bedroom villa that can host upto 10 guests.
Along the lines of apartment and villas, there are privately managed holiday homes too, many of which are located in prime locations within the city, and are fully-furnished as well as offer concierge services and a host of onsite facilities.
Prices: These start at approximately QAR787 for a property located around 30km from Doha to QAR50,000 for a four-bedroom penthouse located on The Pearl Island in the city.
Out and about
For fans descending on Qatar for the World Cup, it’s one big party. With a slew of entertainment events planned, the country is going to ensure that it stays that way right through the tournament. One of the biggest attractions is the FIFA Fan Festival which will be held at Al Bidda Park. Located between West Bay area and Souq Waqif marketplace (and within walking distance of The White Palace and Al Bidda metro stations), the open-air venue will feature live broadcast of the matches, concerts by international artists, several culinary experiences as well as physical and digital gaming stations across the space.
The FIFA Fan Festival will also be held at six international locations: Dubai, London, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Seoul.
Back in Doha, apart from the FIFA Fan Festival, MDLBEAST has organised the Aravia music festival at Al Wakra from November 20-December 19. Tickets start at QAR199, and superstar DJs and performers – from David Guetta and Amr Diab to Fatboy Slim and Steve Aoki – will take to the stage.
Head straight to Place Vendöme Qatar in Doha for a one-stop destination for all your luxury shopping requirements. Some of the world’s biggest haute couture, jewellery and watchmaking brands are all present in this extravagant mall.
Art and Culture
Qatar has spectacular art and culture offerings. Richard Serra’s East-West/West-East sculpture in the Brouq natural reserve is a must-visit attraction.
Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art recently reopened too. The galleries have been redesigned with over 1,000 new pieces on display as well as multi-sensory applications and interactive displays.
The architecturally stunning US$434 million National Museum of Qatar designed by architect Jean Nouvel is a 40,000 sqm attraction located on the edge of Doha Corniche.
If you are heading out into the desert, visit the Khor Al Adaid – locally known as the Inland Sea – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of only three places in the world where the sand dunes meet the sea.
If its sports you want to stick to, the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum located within the Khalifa International Stadium pays homage to sports as diverse as F1, baseball, bobsleigh, boxing, tennis and, of course, football.
Katara Cultural Village meanwhile will host festivals, concerts, exhibitions, and other events between November 18-December 18. The organisers said that the events will cover 300 activities and will see 22 countries participate in them.
For a rounded view of what to do and a calendar of events across the city, download the Visit Qatar app.
Berthold Trenkel, COO of Qatar Tourism
“We expect the total tally of visitors for the year to amount to 2.5-3 million. With this influx of visitors, we anticipate that the GDP contribution of the tourism sector will reach 6-9 per cent.
“The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has certainly accelerated the pace of development of some of the country’s tourism offerings, but the growth of the sector will extend well beyond the World Cup. Our tourism strategy will place Qatar as the fastest growing destination in the region as we seek to attract six million visitors a year by 2030, tripling our current numbers. This will be accomplished by varied efforts across leisure, business and sports tourism.
“Our strategy for growth is underpinned by extensive research that has allowed us to identify 15 source markets and six demand spaces that present a distinct cross between Qatar’s natural assets and unique features.”