World Cup: How Qatar plans to host a million fans during football’s biggest event

Already there are reports of rising costs and a lack of suitable accommodation. For example, online travel agency has 21 properties for the first three nights of the tournament, with prices starting at $1,000 per night and rising to a whopping $51,000.

“Our goal has always been to offer visiting fans fair and reasonable prices,” a spokesman for Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SCDL) told CNN. “We work closely with key stakeholders to ensure affordable prices for all types of accommodation.”

Host nations have often found innovative ways to accommodate fans and Qatar is no different.

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, residents of the legendary favela slums opened their doors to tourists, renting beds, rooms and even entire houses. Some travelers got creative and chose to stay in sex motels, which are usually reserved for Brazilians looking to have sex after a night on the town.

Here’s what Qatar has come up with to accommodate the potentially multi-million football fans:

If you can’t build them, sail them – luxury cruise ships

Two luxury cruise ships will be moored in Doha Port throughout the World Cup. Together they have nine pools, 3,898 cabins, 45 bars, and 10 fine-dining restaurants. Other facilities include a spa, tennis courts and the world’s largest dry slide at sea.

Worried you need to look your best in the group stage between Japan and Costa Rica? Don’t worry, you have access to a hairdresser and a beauty salon.

The ships are a 10-minute shuttle ride from central Doha, but staying in one of the spacious cabins won’t come cheap. They should range from $605 to $2,779 per night — though that’s a steal compared to some other options available to ticket holders, considering it includes a breakfast buffet.

A home away from home – apartments and villas

Qatar Accommodation Agency, official accommodation provider for the event, intends to make 100,000 to 130,000 rooms available each night of the 28-day tournament.

Ticket holder deals are already available for one to six bedroom apartments and villas, with ticket holder rates ranging from $84 to $875 per night. Most are easily accessible by public transport, and villas come fully equipped with kitchens, laundry machines, pools, and gyms.

These accommodations, like others provided by the accommodation agency, are rented on a first occupancy basis, via a staggered release according to FIFA’s ticket phases, or in packages from Qatar Airways.

In addition to official housing, it will offer a booking platform similar to Airbnb for residents to rent out their homes to traveling fans. By applying for a license with Qatar Tourism, residents or building owners can also advertise their apartments on other portals such as Airbnb.

The Festival Experience – Fan Villages

Ticket holders can purchase accommodation in so-called fan villages; described as “casual camping and cabin-style accommodations”. Priced at $207 per night, the small, simply converted portacabins are pricey, and only offer a kettle, fridge, and two bottles of water per day. They are scattered on the outskirts of Doha, the furthest being 25 miles from the airport. There will be a range of dining and entertainment options on-site, but details on those have not yet been released.

Desert camping the Arabian way – Bedouin style tents

The camping option is not yet available on the official accommodation website, but the head of accommodation at the SC, Omar Al-Jaber, has announced that 1,000 “Bedouin-style” tents will be set up in the desert during the tournament. Around 200 of these are classified as “luxury” and cost an “expensive” fee, giving fans an “authentic” experience, Al-Jaber told Reuters. They will have air conditioning to protect fans from the cold desert nights and sweltering morning heat.

If all else fails, sleep in another country

Accommodation in Qatar is expected to be so limited that the country has opted to accommodate ticket holders in neighboring countries, flying them in and out on short flights each day.

Qatar Airways announced in May that it had teamed up with regional carriers to launch 160 additional daily return flights at “competitive prices”, which will carry fans from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh. There will be no baggage handling facilities to expedite transfers and dedicated transport services will be provided to take fans from the airport to the stadiums.

It will also be possible to drive from cities like Riyadh, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, all less than seven hours away.

The abstract

The Russian stock exchange plans to start trading UAE dirham, Indian rupee

The Moscow Stock Exchange is working on a plan to start trading the UAE dirham and Indian rupee, but there are certain “obstacles” on the part of India’s central bank, an exchange official said on Thursday, according to Reuters. Daniil Korablev, sales manager for non-credit organizations, said on social media that the launch may not happen this year.

  • background: Affected by Western sanctions on Ukraine, Russia is actively shifting its trade from the dollar and euro to the currencies of countries it considers “friendly”.
  • Why it matters: The United Arab Emirates and India have not joined their western allies in sanctioning Russia for its war in Ukraine. Many Russians have moved to the UAE since Western sanctions hampered doing business in their country. The UAE abstained from the United Nations resolution condemning Russia for the war in February and has joined Saudi Arabia in rejecting calls from the United States for more oil production to curb inflation.

NATO allies condemn cyber attack blamed on Iran

NATO allies on Thursday condemned a recent cyberattack on Albania that the governments in Washington and Tirana have blamed on Iran, Reuters reported.

  • background: Albania broke diplomatic ties with Iran on Wednesday when Prime Minister Edi Rama accused the Islamic Republic of perpetrating the July attack and gave his diplomats 24 hours to close the embassy and leave the country. In a rare video address, Rama said the cyberattack “threatened to cripple public services, wipe digital systems and hack into government records, steal government intranet electronic communications and wreak havoc and insecurity in the country.”
  • Why it matters: Relations between Iran and Albania have been strained since 2014, when Albania took in some 3,000 members of the exiled opposition group Mujahideen-e-Khalq, who have settled in a camp near Durres, the country’s main port. Washington, Albania’s closest ally, also blamed Iran and vowed to “take further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a US ally.”

The US targets companies for Iranian drone production and delivery to Russia

The US on Thursday imposed sanctions on an Iranian company accused of coordinating military flights to transport Iranian drones to Russia and three companies allegedly involved in the production of Iranian drones, Reuters reported.

  • background: The US accuses Iran of supplying drones to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine, which Tehran denies. On Thursday, Treasury Department Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement: “The United States is committed to strictly enforcing our sanctions on both Russia and Iran and to obliging Iran and those who support Russia’s war of aggression to hold Ukraine accountable.”
  • Why it matters: Thursday’s sanctions come as indirect talks between Iran and the US have made spluttering progress on reviving a 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions.

Around the region

Middle Eastern traffickers have found innovative ways to smuggle the region’s most popular drug, Captagon. But a recent trial in Syria is one for the books.

After a tip, Syrian authorities seized 24 kilograms of Captagon, which was ground into a paste and processed into hummus shells with an adhesive.

According to a statement by the Syrian Interior Ministry on Monday, the trafficker has been arrested and investigations are ongoing to identify others involved in the operation.

The ministry did not say whether the drug traffickers brought the drugs into or out of the country.

Experts say much of the Captagon consumed in the Middle East comes from Syria, where it is manufactured on an industrial scale in factories. Saudi Arabia is considered the largest regional market. The drug has also been used by ISIS fighters for its effects in battles.
This month, 47 million amphetamine pills hidden in a shipment of flour were seized by Saudi authorities at a warehouse after they reached the dry port of the capital Riyadh, the Saudi interior ministry said. It was the largest drug smuggling in Saudi history.

By Mohammed Abdelbary

time capsule

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip receive Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia during a state visit to the Gulf States February 25, 1979 in the United Arab Emirates.

43 years ago, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II made her first state visit to the Arabian Gulf States, arriving on the royal yacht Britannia and meeting with regional leaders for the first time since Britain finally withdrew from the Persian Gulf in 1971.

She met the UAE’s founder, Sheikh Zayed, in February 1979, seven years after the nation was unified as a federal state. Her visit was part of a royal tour of six countries that began in Kuwait and included Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.

At the time, the six states accounted for more than 5% of Britain’s export trade, the New York Times reported in 1979, noting that it was more than Australia, New Zealand and Canada combined.

Several Arab leaders have expressed their condolences following the death of Queen Elizabeth on Thursday at the age of 96. UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed tweeted: “Her Majesty was a close friend of the UAE and a beloved and respected leader whose long reign was marked by dignity, compassion and an unflagging commitment to service to her country.”

The leaders of Qatar, Oman, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan also expressed their condolences.

By Nadeen Ebrahim