FIFA World Cup 2022 is one of the most awaited sporting events, for more than one reason. For the first time, an Arab country, Qatar, is hosting the biggest football event in the World and has spent over INR 15,838 billion to host the FIFA World Cup 2022. By Preeti Kulkarni
It will be held from November 20 to December 18 across eight state-of-the-art stadiums in the country. They are Lusail, Al Bayt Stadium, Al Rayyan Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Al Wakrah, Khalifa International Stadium, Education City Stadium and Ras Abu Aboud Stadium.
Hamad International Airport in Doha is expected to have a steady in-flow of visitors from all over the world with over 1300 flights a day for a month at least for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Since this is one of the biggest events after the pandemic, visitors may have a lot of trepidation regarding visa, travel, accommodation, COVID-19 restrictions and overall planning of this sports-related trip. And so, we have you covered.
Here are some guidelines to note before heading to Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022
Two of the most important documents that one needs are a Hayya card and visa. A Hayya card serves both as a fan ID and an entry permit to the matches and it is necessary to carry the same with the match ticket. This card is compulsory for both international and resident visitors. A Hayya card is required to be on the person whilst entering the country for the FIFA World Cup 2022. The best part about a Hayya card is that visitors are entitled to free match-day travel.
Indian citizens can go for a visa on arrival which is valid for a month after it is issued and can be extended for an additional month. Medical insurance is mandatory to enter the country for the matches.
How to reach
Qatar as a FIFA destination is one of the most accessible venues from India because Qatar Airlines has innumerable flights from Delhi and Mumbai. Additionally, they also have World Cup Packages which allow visitors to plan everything in one go and save monetarily.
The package offers a round trip from Doha to India, hotel booking with meal options and fixed seats at the stadium so that one can travel stress-free with everything booked in advance.
You can book your tickets from Qatar airways or opt for more budget-friendly tickets from other airlines such as Etihad Airways in case you are fine with a layover of over three hours in Abu Dhabi.
Book your flight tickets here.
Where to stay
There are hotel packages to suit every need so visitors need not stress about the accommodation. One of the most tourist-friendly places in the world, Qatar has various options including luxury accommodation as well as budget hotel stay for football fans.
Be prepared to be pampered with soothing wellness treatments, private beaches and an array of options to eat at various luxury stays in Doha including the Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village and Four Seasons. Experience traditional Arab hospitality coupled with luxury at its finest at these hotels.
There are also other value-for-money accommodations including Curve Hotel, Centro Capital Doha and Four Points By Sheraton. You can choose to stay at any of the places while in Doha to watch your favourite teams play.
The best part about these hotels is that they are well-connected and not far from all the eight stadiums.
Book your stay at Ritz Carlton Sharq Village, Doha here.
How to travel in and around Qatar
This comes as good news to all the travellers as Doha has a well-connected, cheap and accessible public transport system despite being one of the richest countries in the world, where the citizens are more used to driving their swanky private vehicles.
A reusable travel card is available for around INR 215 (10 Riyal) and has connecting metros to all the major stadiums with special access from Hamad International Airport. In case the metro is inconvenient on a specific route, you can always opt for a tram service. The cost for both metro and tram starts from INR 44 (2 Qatari Riyal) approximately.
For fitness-freaks, well-functioning cycling routes are available too. As Qatar is relatively hot, so if the weather permits, you can surely go for a spin and catch the unmistakably trendy cityscape lined with beautiful green avenues on the wheels. Cycles can be hired at a small fee for this pursuit.
What to see
Qatar has a coastline of over 560 kilometres, so those who love the sun, the surf and sand are in for a treat. Visitors can relax at the many public and private beaches and engage in numerous activities including camel rides, desert safari or kitesurfing. Nature lovers can find their little paradise at Fuwairit Beach which is also a hatching place for the rare hawksbill sea turtles. And if you are interested in fishing, you can check out the UNESCO-recognised site of the Inland Sea or Khor Al-Adaid, located southeast of Qatar.
Art lovers are sure to get awestruck at the Museum of Islamic Art which is an amalgamation of Arab fine art with a hint of French sensibility, as it is designed by Parisian architect IM Pei who is has a Pritzker Prize to his credit.
You can choose to stock up on fragrant spices and other authentic Middle Eastern specialities from the exotic marketplace called Souq Waqif.
Where to eat
Lip-smacking shawarmas, traditional Qatari food such as machboos, luqaimat, ghuzi, thareed, American sandwiches and cheeseburgers, and even South Indian food — Qatar won’t disappoint you with its choices and will not only tickle your tastebuds but fill your heart with happiness.
Do check out Katara Cultural Village if you want to sample some authentic Qatari cuisine. Also, add Shay Al Shomous to your list. Marmara Istanbul Restaurant and Biryani Corner are two of the other places which are perfect to have a wholesome meal and one of the best biriyani one can have.
Petra restaurant is great for quick bites and so is Chai Halib if you are in for some Turkish coffee and a light something to go with it. You can head straight to Bharat Vasanta Bhawan for South Indian delicacies if you are a vegetarian or love the cuisine.
All passengers are required to present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival at Doha. It is necessary for all adults to have a double vaccination certificate too. Children below 12 years need not be vaccinated but are required to take a rapid antigen test at a certified clinic within a day of arrival.
As of now, no quarantine is required for international passengers but it is best to check the official website of the Ministry Of Public Health for the current status. Do not forget to register here before travelling.
The tickers of the FIFA World Cup are usually available on a first come first serve basis. According to its official website, the sale of tickets for the phase two has ended. However, fans need not be discouraged as last-minute sales of this tournament will be open. Visit the official page for more details.
FIFA World Cup 2022 will be flagged off by a match between Senegal and Netherlands (group A) at Al Thumama Stadium on November 20 afternoon. Other matches will take place between the home team Qatar and Ecuador (group A), and between England and Iran (group B) as well as USA and Wales/Scotland/Ukraine (group B) at different stadiums.
One of the shortest FIFA World Cups of all time, the final match is scheduled on 18 December at the historic Lusail Stadium marking the end of this event.
Get the entire match schedule here and plan your visit accordingly.
(Main image credit: Radoslaw Prekurat/Unsplash; Featured image credit: Florian Wehde/Unsplash)