The Qatar World Cup kicks off in November and promises to be hugely popular with UAE sports enthusiasts, as official agents have reported record ticket sales — with huge demand for quarter-final matches.
Host Qatar and Ecuador provide the curtain opener at the Al Bayt Stadium on November 20, and it's not too late for UAE residents to plan a trip to the region’s biggest sporting event.
How do I travel to Qatar from the UAE?
Flying is likely to remain the most convenient — albeit costly — option for football fans, particularly as rules on driving to Qatar have changed
Anyone visiting by car must now park at Qatar's Abu Samra land border crossing with Saudi Arabia on the Salwa Road, and then take a free shuttle bus into Doha, 90 kilometres away.
Flights into Doha on December 9, when the first quarter finals are due to be played, and returning on December 10, are currently available with Flydubai for under Dh1,000 ($272).
To fly back a day later on December 11, fans will have to pay around Dh500 more, flying with Qatar Airways.
Match hospitality tickets are also available from FIFA’s official agents in the UAE, Expat Sport.
“The UAE has had its highest recorded ticket sales for any World Cup to date,” said Alan Holt, managing director of Expat Sport.
“Our most popular package for UAE residents so far has been the quarter finals.
“It's over a long weekend, so people only need to take the Friday off work to see the top teams in the world.
“For UAE-based football fans this is the ultimate weekend experience of what will, no doubt, be incredible football and the opportunity to soak up the exciting atmosphere in both the stadiums and Doha.”
What about accommodation?
Expat Sport has six levels of match hospitality packages, starting from Dh3,500 for seats in an allocated section of the stadium, with four hours of tented hospitality and parking.
The price does not include travel or accommodation, which the company can also provide if required.
Four star and five-star accommodation options are available in Doha from the agent, while match tickets can still be purchased direct from Fifa.
“Due to all the stadiums being in relatively proximity, this would be the first World Cup where fans can watch two games over two days without moving out of the host city,” said Mr Holt.
“This is one of the major advantages of Qatar as a host nation.
“For our customers we are recommending including the match in the Lusail Stadium as this is Qatar's biggest stadium, so we would naturally assume the top qualifying teams will play there.”
What is the Hayya card?
Anyone wishing to visit Doha during the World Cup, which takes place between November 20 and December 18, must have a digital Hayya card.
This is a preapproved entry permit into Qatar, and can only be accessed once in possession of an official match ticket.
A similar process was implemented for the 2018 Russia World Cup to simplify the usually complicated and lengthy process of visa applications for fans.
The Hayya card is essential for stadium entry, and will also give access to free bus services and the Doha Metro. Fans can register for the card on the Fifa website.
Can I still book flights?
Yes. Commercial air travel will be the most popular route for fans. Scheduled flights will arrive at Hamad International Airport, while chartered flights and private jets will arrive at Doha International Airport.
From the UAE fans can catch flights with several airlines including flydubai and Air Arabia.
Strict Covid-19 measures are likely to remain in place throughout the tournament.
Mobile disinfection robots are operating at Hamad International Airport, while smart screening helmets allows staff to measure the temperature of passengers throughout the terminal.
The airport also has 38 thermal screening cameras at entry points, while wearing masks is mandatory.
Saudia will be operating 40 shuttle flights daily to Doha from both Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, increased to 60 daily flights on the Saudi team’s match days.
Doha is only a 90-minute flight from Riyadh.
Do I need a PCR test or vaccination for entry?
The Qatar Entry Registration is a mandatory travel document for all international travellers and will record their health and personal information, including a negative PCR test result.
Anyone with a match ticket must be fully vaccinated.
As travel advice is constantly changing, visitors are advised to check their chosen airline’s latest rules and guidelines from Qatar's Ministry of Public Health.
Proof of vaccination status is required for stadium entry, as well as use of public transport, via the Qatari government Ehteraz app.
Al Hosn and other GCC-approved mobile apps, the European pass app and UK’s NHS Covid Pass will also be accepted.
How do I get to my accommodation in Doha?
Passengers arriving at Hamad International Airport can take the Metro Red Line directly into central Doha from T1 Metro Station.
Digital Hayya cards allow free use of the Doha Metro from November 11 until December 23.
Karwa public airport bus services will be expanded for the World Cup.
All bus stations have lifts and space for wheelchairs and also allow guide dogs.
Taxis are available 24 hours from the arrivals hall, either through the turquoise Karwa taxis or private Uber and Careem services.
Shuttle buses will be provided from HIA for those staying at the cruise ship hotels at Doha’s Grand Terminal in West Bay, and to other official accommodation sites between November 14 and December 18.
Seats must be booked in advance using the Hayya to Qatar 2022 mobile app.
Passengers arriving at Doha International Airport can take the Gold Line directly into central Doha and return on the Red Line to Al Matar Al Qadeem Metro station, near the airport.
A Mowasalat shuttle bus number A840 will be in operation between the airport’s arrivals hall and Souq Waqif Bus Hub — South.
How do I drive to Doha?
Road access to Qatar is by the Abu Samra land border crossing with Saudi Arabia, but drivers must leave their vehicle at the border on the Saudi side and take a free shuttle bus for onward journeys into central Doha.
It is possible to drive the 695km desert route from Dubai to the Qatar border or 588km journey from Abu Dhabi, if in possession of entry visas, insurance and driving permits for Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Fans travelling by road also need their approved Hayya card to enter Qatar, as well as any other immigration documents.
After fans cross the border, free bus number B811 will take supporters to Al Messila Metro Station on the Green Line.
On the return journey, the shuttle bus will take fans back to the land border from the Al Messila station.
Seats must be booked in advance and passengers provide an estimated arrival time on the Hayya to Qatar 2022 app.
Can I get to Doha by sea?
Chartered cruise ships are scheduled by the Qatar National Tourism Council and will be docked at Hamad Port, although all travel arrangements are organised by cruise operators.
Cruise ships will dock at Hamad Port for stopovers in Qatar, while some will be used as floating hotels for the duration of the World Cup.
How do I travel around Qatar?
Travelling around this relatively small country should be easy, particularly as the Hayya card offers free use of public transport.
Doha's Metro has three lines — the Gold, Green and Red lines — covering 37 stations, with trains running every three minutes.
Seats can be booked via the Karwa Taxi app.
Operating hours will be extended during the World Cup. From November 17 to December 20, trains will run from 6am to 3am from Saturday to Thursday and from 9am to 3am on Fridays.
There are also three tram systems.
The Lusail Tram connects to the Metro via Legtaifiya Station on the Red Line, while the Education City Tram connects to the Education City, Qatar National Library and Al Shabab stations on the Green Line.
The Msheireb Tram connects Msheireb Metro Station hub to landmark locations within Msheireb Downtown Doha.
Public buses also operate across Doha and a free stadium bus service will operate from Barwa Madinatna, Souq Waqif North, the Fifa Fan Festival, West Bay and Barwa Barahat.
Services will operate four hours before kick-off and end 90 minutes after the final whistle.