Fans can enter Qatar without World Cup tickets from December 2

Rule change means ticketless supporters can now attend the knockout stages

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Entry rules for fans going to the Fifa World Cup in Qatar were changed on Thursday.

World Cup fans without tickets will be allowed to enter Qatar from December 2, the country announced.

Previously, those without tickets were unable to enter Qatar unless they were travelling with a Hayya card holder, who could invite up to three non-ticketed fans for a 500 riyal ($140) fee.

The new rules mean fans without tickets can enjoy all the football fever of the knockout stages.

A tweet from Road to 2022 confirmed the rule change.

Fans delighted at the news

Ali Adil, 45, an Iraqi resident who has a ticket to attend the Brazil versus Cameron match on December 2, said the change in rules means he can stay on to soak up a bit more football fever.

“I already booked a shuttle flight to Doha to attend Brazil and Cameron's match with my son but I was feeling that 24 hours in Doha is not enough to enjoy the atmosphere. With the new rules I will go again to explore the city and the fan zones,” Mr Adil told The National.

“I think the new rule will give a chance to many football fans to come to Qatar. Many people couldn’t get the tickets and [didn't know how else to get to] Doha.”

Tarik Saif, a 36-year-old Emirati football fan said it was his dream to travel to the World Cup but he struggled to secure a match ticket.

“Just when I thought I won’t be able to go to the World Cup, the new rule restored my hope to be in Qatar during the World Cup. Even if I don’t have a ticket, it was my dream to be in a country while hosting the World Cup to enjoy the vibes,” Mr Saif said.

Once in Doha, he will try to buy a ticket for any game in the knockout stages.

“If I fail to get a ticket then I can go to the corniche and enjoy watching the match on big screens with other football fans. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for any football fan,” he said.

All ticket holders still need to apply for a Hayya card.

Those without tickets entering Qatar from December 2 also need to apply for a Hayya card.

And until December 23, international fans passing through the Abu Samra border crossing must have a vehicle entry permit.

Fans driving across the border will have to pay a charge.

The charge does not apply to citizens, residents and GCC citizens who have a Qatari ID card and are driving a vehicle with Qatari number plates.

Increased visitor numbers

Qatar is expecting about 1.2 million international visitors to the country for the month-long tournament, with ticket sales approaching three million for the 64 games.

The rule change is likely to boost visitors at a time when the number of teams left in the tournament will be reduced from 32 to 16, with the final four group matches played on December 2.

The demand on Qatar’s limited accommodation — which includes hotels, apartments, hired cruise ships and campsites — will be lowered somewhat.

Fans have been looking to neighbouring cities, such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat, for accommodation and booking shuttle flights to Doha.

The round of 16 matches starts on December 3, with the final to be played on December 18 at the Lusail Stadium in Doha.

Hayya card benefits

The Hayya card gives fans free metro and bus travel in Doha, as well as access to events, discounts, a free sim card from local operator Ooredoo and emergency medical treatment.

It allows for multiple entries to Qatar from November 1 to December 23.

Hayya cardholders can apply online for a multiple-entry tourist visa to the UAE.

The visa, which costs Dh100, is valid for 90 days from the date it is issued and can be extended for another 90 days.

Hayya cardholders are not required to have travelled to Qatar before visiting the UAE.

Organisers said applications for international fans should take five calendar days for preliminary approval, subject to photo and passport copy quality compliance, and up to an additional 24 hours for accommodation confirmation, depending on accommodation type.

They will also be able to apply for a free e-visa for Saudi Arabia, which will allow fans to stay in the kingdom for up to 60 days.

Cardholders can also get a free 60-day visa for Oman. Visa holders can bring a first-degree relative with them to enjoy their stay in the sultanate.

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Updated: November 05, 2022, 10:42 AM