Qatar enters the final stage to host the first World Cup in the Middle East

Cristiani Apolonio / Estadão

On December 2, 2010, . was released Qatar The world was stunned. Against all odds, one of the smallest countries in Asia (with an area equal to half Sergipe, the smallest state in Brazil, and around 2.7 million inhabitants) has overtaken Japan, South Korea and Australia and won the right to host The world CupTwelve years later, now in 2022.

As selection ceremonies were held in the streets of Doha, the country’s capital, leaders of the wealthy monarchy promised a compact and luxurious World Cup. Qatar makes billions of dollars exploring for natural gas reserves and has billionaire investments, with stakes in companies such as Germany’s Volkswagen, Anglo Dutch Shell, Britain’s Barclays and France’s PSG.

It will have twelve stadiums spread over a distance of 60 kilometres. They would be so close to each other that, in theory, it would allow fans to watch up to three matches on the same day, in luxurious and comfortable stadiums, without having to contend with long flights and hotel changes. “The World Cup is unprecedented in the Middle East and the Arab world has been waiting for this opportunity for a long time,” then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter said after a vote by his executive committee at the entity’s headquarters in Switzerland.

But despite the promised extravagance, the World Cup is still racing against time to get everything ready. Estadão was in Doha in June and saw how Qatar was going after just over four months of conflict. There is a lot to do and problems to solve, such as hosting 1.5 million visitors during games.

“We had to adapt to a lot of hurdles, but everything will be ready in time for a big event,” Hassan Al Thawadi, CEO of the Qatar Cup Legacy Committee, said during an interview after the group draw for the World Cup. . The first challenge was obvious: how to get the logistics running to accommodate the month-long crowd, without turning country life into chaos or leaving a handful of “white elephants” in the city.

The first setback was the high temperature, which approached 50°C in June and July, the traditional months for the event since 1930, although the stadiums are equipped with air conditioning, keeping the temperature at around 20°C. Between June, when Estadão was in Doha to follow the two matches that marked Australia and Costa Rica as the last-ranked World Cup qualifiers, some days thermometers reached 48°C, and for those who walked outdoors, the sun was unbearable.

In 2014, Qatar Cup planning already underwent another change: The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, a body linked to local government that coordinates all World Cup activities, decided that the 64 games would be held in eight arenas, not twelve more. . Currently, the arenas are either ready or in the final stage. Only Lusail, a giant sculpture of 30,000 tons of concrete, 310 meters in diameter, in the form of a basket of dates, where the final will be played, has not yet opened. But it has been completed since 2021.

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If the stadiums were due to minor renovations in their surroundings, there has been progress on other construction sites. Driven by a budget of US$229 billion (R$1.2 trillion), there has been significant progress in infrastructure. The road network, which was already good, gained wider roads, such as the one now connecting Doha to Al Khor, with seven lanes in each direction. Old urban bus fleets are being replaced by subway networks. Since 2019, three metro lines have been delivered in the Doha area (red, yellow and green), creating a network of 78 kilometers of network, where there was no single station four years ago.

The trains have a capacity of 416 passengers, are automated and have a maximum speed of 100 km / h. There is a meter station from Qatar’s main airport, Hamad, and another close to five World Cup arenas: Lusail, Education City, Ahmed Bin Ali, Khalifa and 974. There will be a bus service during the cup, which will be connected to the metro stations. Also installed is 17 kilometers of the track on two tram lines – one in Cidade da Ediocacao, an education center with eight campuses in the US, France, UK and local institutions, and the other in Lusail, a planned city where the World Cup final stadium is located.

To reduce congestion in Doha, in addition to the access of the metro and tram network, the capacity of roads to further stadiums such as Al-Bayt, 60 km away, has been increased. Engineer Adallah Al-Qahtani, from Ashghal, the contractor responsible for traffic monitoring, says, “Based on the information collected by cameras and sensors, our Traffic Control Center will be able to act quickly to ease congestion, control traffic lights and traffic flows. “.

To welcome more than 1.5 million expected visitors (one million tickets have already been sold), Hamad Airport, the country’s main airport, has been modernized, and the capacity of its five terminals has been increased. About 2.8 million passengers will be able to move through its facilities. To help operate more flights, the demolition of the former Doha Airport has been put on hold.

Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, Qatar’s main airline, says: “It has undergone renovation works and will add a capacity of about 10 million passengers. Such as high-speed trains and the 40 km bridge that will connect Qatar with Bahrain in about half an hour (the journey by car takes 5. Modernization of the railway line between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with trains that will cover a distance of 200 km. / h, also stood in the way.

There is still much to be done in Qatar. In Doha, the landscape is marked by cranes and the movement of workers. Entire neighborhoods are shaped by buildings designed by some of the world’s most famous architectural firms. There are a few weeks when a new postcard is not opened. A few weeks ago, Iconic 2022 was delivered, a set of four buildings shaped like the number 2022, when viewed from above or from the front. It is located a few meters from Khalifa Stadium and Al Azizia Metro Station. Designed by engineer Ibrahim Jaida, who designed Al Janoub Stadium. In Lusail, there is a new museum with oriental paintings and sculptures in the final stages of construction. Also in the final phase is the Qatar Automobile Museum building, near Katara, the country’s largest cultural center.

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A traditional area known as Msheireb has been redesigned, with new buildings, solar panels and modern trams crisscrossing its streets. Other areas of the capital are also undergoing a complete transformation, such as West Bay and the Dubai Exhibition and Convention Center, where the Exhibition and Convention Center is located, and where the draw for the Cup was held. “The 2022 World Cup is a catalyst for progress in Qatar,” said Al Thawadi, from the Higher Committee for the Legacy and Cup Winning.

In the area around Souq Waqif, a traditional neighborhood in downtown Doha, empty streets and potholes are rare. In 2019, when Flamengo participated in the Club World Cup, there were days in December, minutes after a storm, the streets flooded the streets. In June, the Alghanim Bus Station, symbol of old Doha, was closed. Now, those who want to get around the area use the subway lines, turquoise taxis from the Karwa co-op or apps, such as Uber or Careem, a local competitor.


Despite the progress, Doha still has problems. One of the most complicated will be where it accommodates a crowd of 1.5 million people (just over half the country’s population), estimated to land in Qatar within 28 days of the conflict. There will be restrictions on entry for foreigners, and any unaccredited person who does not have a ticket and a reserved place to sleep will not be able to enter the country. No one will enter Katra for “adventure”. To complicate matters, between November and December, a government decree banned all hotels in the country from accepting individual reservations from guests, causing squeals on the part of those who already have them, as hotel prices skyrocket.

Now officials, journalists and authorized ticket holders must visit the Qatar Residency Agency to find a place to stay. You also need to log into the Hayya digital platform and register your personal details, proof that you have tickets or credentials and a place to stay overnight. There are hotels, homes, apartments and nearly 4,000 cabins on the cruise ships that dock in the city’s port. And also about a thousand tents and prefab cabins, which will be installed on a camp site near the country’s capital.

The Cup’s official lodging platform will provide options for fans who want to stay here during matches: hotels, apartments, homes, two giant 5-star ships docked in Doha Port, as well as camping sites. They will be structures with beds, water, electricity and sewage systems, Omar Al Jaber, executive director of the Residence Department of the Government’s High Commission for Delivery and Legacy, told Estadão. Four of these camps will be built on Qetaifan Island in Lusail, in an area close to the city’s largest shopping mall, Mall of Qatar. Ahmed Ben Ali Stadium is located next to the stadium, and two arenas in which Brazil plays its three matches in the group stage, Lusail, against Serbia and Cameroon, and 974, against Switzerland.

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There is also the possibility for fans to stay in other countries in the region and take advantage of Qatar’s airports and extended flights. Air bridge promise during competition with many companies. Flights will arrive 5 hours before departure, allowing fans to enjoy the city before heading back to base. That would be 160 flights per day for 200,000 people. “The Cup will be a good opportunity for football fans to discover a part of the world they do not know,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.


It’s good to know that following games won’t come cheap. European Football Fans Club accounts estimate that this will be the most expensive trophy ever. Three matches in the group stage can cost up to 2770 euros. Hotel rooms at $80 a night will be scarce. At Fan Village Cabins, prices start at $200 USD. According to the French, Ronan Evin, director of the association, the story continues with tickets, which sold out about 46% more expensive compared to prices in Russia.

All this discourages fans, even the most fanatical. French Fabien Tosolini, of the Irrésistibles Français group, told l’Equipe. “The sum of the expensive tickets and flights, the uncertain accommodation … all this together is not possible.” This explains why only 120 members of the group are set to fly to Qatar in November. They were 600 in Russia. A similar movement will occur in Belgium: only 1,200 fans of the “Red Devils” will be willing to follow the matches, according to the Belgian newspaper “Het Laatste Nieuws”. In the first stage of Euro 2020, there were 20 thousand.


The arenas will be within a radius of 60 km or 53 minutes by car. During the days in which the two matches that determined the last two World Cup seed matches were played, the report used the subway to reach Ahmed Ben Ali Stadium, where both matches were played. Clean and fast (maximum speed is around 100 km/h), the trains are divided into three classes – dorara (which requires special tickets), women’s carriages (only couples, friends or children can enter, as long as they are accompanied) and men’s.

Tip: Always carry your phone with the Qatar government’s Ehteraz Covid-19 case tracking app installed on your phone. In June, no passengers were able to board any subway station, take a bus, or in restaurants, stores, supermarkets or malls without being shown at the entrance. The precautionary measure must continue to be applied during the 2022 World Cup period.

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