Here's how much a day trip from UAE to the Qatar World Cup will cost

Tens of thousands of people will fly in to Doha from Dubai and Abu Dhabi — here's a snapshot of how it adds up

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It's the biggest football tournament in the world and it's right here on our doorstep.

For fans in the UAE, there's the chance to make the Fifa World Cup 2022 in Qatar a day trip, with an early morning flight in and a late night shuttle back to Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Fifa says there was most demand from Qatari residents, followed by people in Argentina, Mexico, the US and UAE.

But as World Cups go, it's pricey.

Here's a rough breakdown of how much a day trip could cost.

Daily shuttle flights

It's about an hour from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Doha, and the cheapest way to visit is to fly there for the day.

Return tickets for a match-day shuttle flights with flydubai, Air Arabia and Etihad are in the region of Dh1,500 to Dh2,000 ($408 to $545).

Qatar Airways charges about Dh2,500 for the same service.

Qatar's World Cup Stadiums rise from the desert

This would involve you taking a flight out of UAE at about 6am getting into Doha, which is in a time zone one hour behind, about 8am.

Flights back run throughout the evening, with some after midnight, so you'll be on the ground for at least 15 hours to soak up the atmosphere.

Don't miss your flight back as it's expected to be difficult — and expensive — to book another.

It's important to note that Flydubai and Air Arabia flights will not serve alcohol on board during the brief flight. The National checked with the other major airlines but they did not respond.

You cannot buy duty-free alcohol at the airport or take any with you into Qatar.

Hayya card

You need a Fifa Fan ID, or a 'Hayya card' as the Qataris call it, to book a flight. You receive a digital Hayya card when you successfully buy a World Cup match ticket. This is required to book a flight to Qatar.

For the second half of the tournament, the rules were relaxed and there's more on that here.

Longer stays

If you managed to find accommodation and want to stay overnight — a minimum of two nights is stipulated — flights are far more costly.

Prices are changing all the time but Abu Dhabi to Doha on Sunday morning, returning on Thursday night, was Dh3,580 with Etihad and Dh4,320 on Qatar Airways.

Flights from Dubai with Flydubai were a pricey Dh7,610 when The National checked recently.

Accommodation in Doha is scarce, though there are still some cabins available on three cruise ships docked in the bay, and in the slightly ramshackle desert camps.

Prices for those two options range from about $180 to $400 per night.

Match tickets

About 2.9 million of 3 million tickets have been sold for the month-long tournament, Fifa said three days ago.

Tickets for group matches cost between Dh250 and Dh800. There are Dh40 tickets reserved for Qatari residents.

For the second round — for which there are no Hayya card restrictions — the cheapest category-three tickets are from Dh350, rising to Dh750 for the quarter-finals and Dh1,300 for the semi finals.

Last minute tickets can be bought on the Fifa portal here.

Food and drink

For anyone not used to food and drink prices in the Gulf, particularly South American fans, the World Cup will seem very steep.

Much-publicised prices of Budweisier beer, the official supplier, are Dh50 — about 10 to 20 per cent more expensive than in Dubai.

Bottles of water are Dh10 ($2.70) in fan zones.

Early arrivals in Doha have already posted photos of $9 Greek salads and $8 slices of pizza.

Local shops and supermarkets would offer better value, but it depends on how much you want to go out of your way.

Food stalls on the streets are expected to offer similar value.

Supporters arrive at a fan zone in Doha. Getty

So what's free?

Not much. Your Hayya card gets you free trips on the Doha metro (which was already very cheap at Dh6 ($1.60) per day.

It's not clear if there will be free water fountains.

When World Cup organisers did a dry run for the Lusail Super Cup, there were water shortages and long queues for the metro stations.

Taking small snacks or a packed lunch with you might be wise.

Are there any alternatives to flying?

There really aren't. There was much talk before the tournament of driving from the UAE, which is only a few hours from the Qatari border.

But one-day entries via the land border aren't allowed during the World Cup, and organisers stipulated that you must show you have accommodation in Doha for five nights.

You also have to leave your car at the Saudi border and take a bus to Doha, which is about 96km. The Qatari authorities levy a Dh5,000 charge for this option, making flying far more viable.

Some high-rolling fans tried to rent yachts to sail from Dubai Marina to Doha, as we reported here, but current rules do not allow vessels to cross the sea border.

Verdict?

A day trip should cost you Dh2,000 to Dh3,000, depending on the flight cost which is key.

Updated: November 18, 2022, 10:50 AM
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