World Cup demand pushes up rents in Qatar

More than 1.7 million visitors are expected during the month-long tournament

World Cup fever is building in Villaggio Mall in Doha. Reuters
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The cost of short-term rentals in Qatar is rising before the World Cup, with one landlord demanding $60,000 a month for a three-bedroom villa.

One-bedroom apartments on Pearl Island in Doha are being advertised at more than $1,000 a night during the tournament, which begins on November 21.

Consulting group ValuStrat says apartments on the island are being rented for an average of $2,580 a month, up from $2,300 in the fourth quarter of last year. A spacious three-bedroom villa more than 120 kilometres from central Doha has been advertised on Airbnb for $60,000 a month. The property comes with a private pool and can accommodate up to 10 guests.

Properties for an entire year are being advertised for $1 million on Airbnb and Booking.com.

Some landlords are pushing up prices, with more than 1.7 million visitors expected to visit the country for the tournament. This year, some owners have asked tenants for a two-year lease contract instead of one.

One expatriate resident, 48, said he chose to rent out his three-bedroom villa for the first time during the Fifa World Cup to enjoy a quiet month in the UAE.

An Airbnb superhost — a term for hosts who offer their guests outstanding services — who asked not to be named, said he was asking a premium price for his serviced studio apartment.

The rates on Airbnb were much higher than normal but that is because of the World Cup rush, he said.

With Fifa reserving thousands of rooms in hotels and residences for players and staff, demand has surged in the past few months.

In the first quarter of the year, rents rose by 3.3 per cent, while average prices on the Pearl increased by 19 per cent.

Rush for accommodation

Officials and landlords in Qatar, a small country with an 88 per cent expatriate population and low rates of home ownership, have been scrambling to accommodate the expected surge of football fans.

Housing was the second-biggest contributor to an inflation rate of 5.4 per cent in June.

A 34-year-old Belgian mother who lives in a hotel apartment said she was choosing to leave for a month when her annual contract expires at the end of this month.

“My 2-year-old and I will go to Greece and visit family. We plan to look for new accommodation come December,” she said.

Her husband, who works in Doha, will stay with a friend in the meantime.

For others, the decision to vacate their apartments or travel aboard during the World Cup was not easy.

Families who have children enrolled in schools have had to pay increased rent.

“I was given a two-week notice to consider a 10 per cent increase and when I reluctantly agreed, the landlord withdrew the offer and gave me a month to move out,” said one resident who has lived in Doha for almost two decades.

He said he had put furniture for his one-bedroom apartment and personal belongings into storage until he works out his next move.

“Currently, I plan to stay with a friend and look for an apartment in January, when the World Cup mayhem has calmed down a bit,” he said.

Match ticket holders have been told they could find a place to stay through the Qatar Accommodation Agency website. A ticket application number is required to complete a booking.

Tents and cabins are available in fan villages, such as in Zafaran outside Lusail, where prices start from $207 a night.

The first weekend of the World Cup is sold out but other dates are still available.

To ease the pressure on hotels, Qatar is building temporary accommodation on Doha’s outskirts. Cruise ships anchored off the coast will also offer rooms for football fans.

Many are choosing to stay elsewhere in the region and fly in for games, although more new hotels are due to open next month, only weeks before the start of the tournament.

Updated: October 07, 2022, 4:51 AM
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