Qatar 2022: World Cup fans acclimatize to desert accommodation — in tents and portacabins


Doha, Qatar
CNN

As fans flock to Qatar, they are understandably in festive mood as they await the prospect of a World Cup in the desert.

But where better to stay than Connecticut in a country that is geographically located on a smaller peninsula and has hosted the smallest World Cup in history?

With Qatar set to host an estimated 1.5 million fans for the month-long tournament, which begins on November 20, the battle for accommodation could heat up.

Jimmy and Kennys Leng were among the first fans to arrive at the Fan Village Free Zone, one of the largest sites for fans, on Thursday.

“They built this in the desert,” Jimmy told CNN Sports, surveying the landing site, which he marveled at.

Staying in a hotel or airbnb in Doha is very expensive so this was a great option.

The Free Zone Fan Village is about 20 minutes by metro from downtown Doha, but at the moment it’s like stepping into a dystopian world.

There is precious little else around the village – a building site or two and the main road – so the staff will quickly direct you to reception, which is a 10-minute walk through a spacious car park.

There are endless rows of portacabins, arranged in different colors and arranged in alphabetical order, and, stretching into the distance, are large gazebos with hundreds of empty tables and chairs.

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Basketball courts, outdoor gyms and a giant television screen dotted around the complex where fans could play and be entertained.

When CNN visited on Friday, only a handful of fans were milling about, though many more are expected as the tournament progresses.

Containers living in the desert ... World Cup style.

Navigation is a bit problematic – the Leungs admit to getting lost in seemingly endless passageways. There are electric scooters to get around though and the staff will drive you to your door in a golf buggy.
The Leungs work in the media and traveled from Hong Kong to watch their favorite team, the Netherlands, at Qatar 2022.

“It’s very quiet at the moment but there are food options and the rooms are good, but a little small,” Kennis added.

As fans like Lings struggled to find their footing in Qatar on Friday, they were greeted by news that soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, had made one change, saying no alcohol would be sold in eight of the tournament’s 64 stadiums. Matches

For those fans who are on a budget and can’t afford hotel offerings, Eight Fan villages offer “casual camping and cabin style” options.

Some World Cup visitors, however, were less than impressed with what was on offer.

“There are so many cabinets and containers and a big screen where we can all watch the games together, well… what can I say?” China’s Fei Peng, who is here to watch more than 30 World Cup games, told CNN Sports.

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“This is the best option we can afford. It’s too expensive in Doha, so we can’t wait too long.”

According to Qatar’s official World Cup hosting agency, a night in the Free Zone Fan Village starts at $207 per night, but cheaper options can be found at Caravan City for $114 per night.

And if your heart is set on camping under the stars, a tent in Alhor Village is available for $423 a night.

If you’re not on a budget, a self-described “Eco Farm” cabin offers a more luxurious option for $1,023 per night., A stay on a cruise ship will set you back at least $179.

The cabin container comes with beds and air conditioners.

Many fans are expected to fly from neighboring countries to Qatar, the Gulf state, to stay for the games.

Qatar Airways announced in May that it was partnering with regional carriers to launch 160 more daily return flights at “competitive prices” carrying fans from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh.

To speed up transfers, there will be no baggage check-in and separate transport will be provided to transport fans from the airport to the stadium.

It is also possible to drive from cities such as Riyadh, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, all under seven hours.
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Those coming to Doha also have to contend with the heat.

The tournament was moved to the winter months because of the gamma of temperatures – the average high in Doha in the second half of November is around 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), which is much better than the World Cup normally in July. Summing up, the average high temperature reaches 42 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit).

Even in winter, the heat is a waste of energy if you come from a cold climate. Walk too far, too fast, and you’ll soon find yourself drenched in sweat and in need of hydration.

Shade is king and race staff, dotted around Doha, are quick to advise you to stay out of direct sunlight.

Although the nights are not long, the heat dies down a little, although the night is wet and sticky.

Fortunately, Doha is fully air-conditioned throughout the stadiums and the white-walled architecture helps to moderate some of the heat.

With only two days left for the first match, the country is making its final preparations as it prepares for the World Cup like no other.

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