From the giant projector screens on Umm al Qaiwain Corniche to Sharjah's tournament-themed competitions, World Cup fever has gripped the UAE. Cafes, bars and shisha cafes throughout the nation's seven emirates are all gearing up to offer football fans first-class venues where they can enjoy the World Cup thrills and spills.
The popular Al Qasba entertainment zone has designed a new competition tent called "Scream For Your Club", which features wall-to-wall projectors for football's biggest international event. Live matches will be shown with English and Arabic commentary with sofa seating available for all. Sporting competitions and trivia contests will keep audiences entertained in between matches. To add to the spirit of excitement, raffles will be held at the opening of the first match and on every Friday during the tournament.
Fans are expected to gather at the Ajman Beach Club to watch the key games with a host of new televisions bought especially for the tournament. "In every angle you would like to look, there would be a screen," he said. "Then, if it's not your team playing, our singers and dancers will entertain you on the stage." The Kempisiki Hotel in Ajman has set up a World Cup village that will broadcast live matches on 16 giant screens. The celebration will continue all month long, with all three venues in the village opening one hour prior to kick-off on all match days.
Fans can take part in the World Cup atmosphere along the UAQ Corniche, located just a short distance from the King Faisal Road. Several projectors have already been set up outside the Corniche Café for those who want to watch the matches in the open air. The management has two more giant screens for those who will prefer to watch the matches indoors, said Suhail al Hajj, the cafe's owner.
Shisha cafes will remain open as long as there are customers to serve, vowed Abdul Minam, 27, a worker at the Manhattan Cafe. "For football, it's all full," he said. "Tonight there's no football and we will have 50 or 100 customers. On nights when football is being played it will be entirely full." Mr Minam expects about 300 customers a night during the World Cup. The Cove Rotana in RAK will have a South African-inspired brunch every Friday and prizes for guests watching World Cup matches at its Breeze Bar lounge.
Staff were hanging flags, raising projectors and working on new menus, ready to lure supporters into their cafes to watch the games. "The favourites here are Brazil but this year also Argentina because [Lionel] Messi is more popular, more famous," said Essam Abdelaziz, 34, the Egyptian manager of the Al Saher coffee shop. Keen to keep non-football fans happy too, the cafe has set aside a "no football zone" for shisha regulars who cannot stand the sport.