Dubai is cashing on on the 2022 Qatar World Cup

A yacht that can be chartered to watch the World Cup while sailing in Dubai is docked in Dubai Harbor on November 1, 2022, ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP via Getty Images)

Giuseppe Cacace | Afp | Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Qatar is not the only country to experience a massive tourism boom thanks to hosting the 2022 World Cup.

Neighboring UAE will also benefit from the surge, with its glittering commercial capital of Dubai expected to receive an extra million visitors during the football tournament, according to the Dubai Sports Council.

Paul Griffiths, director general of Dubai Airports, in August called Dubai “the main gateway” to the World Cup and predicted it would see more tourists than Qatar itself.

And the city is going all out, capitalizing on its reputation as a more liberal and built-up hypermodern city than Qatar and advertising the extravagant tourist attractions for which it has developed a reputation.

Dubai is known for extravagant and extravagant experiences, such as its indoor ski resort in the desert, the world’s deepest man-made plunge pool, the world’s tallest building and the largest Ferris wheel. Specific World Cup-themed experiences are now being added, simultaneously capitalizing on the fact that Qatar, a small country of 3 million people, is struggling to accommodate all its expected tourists, many of whom will choose to stay in Dubai for the matches.

This has been made possible by ‘match-day air shuttles’ operated by Qatar Airlines and Dubai-based low-cost carrier FlyDubai, which allow travelers to book same-day return flights from nearby Dubai or Oman to attend a match in Qatar and return in less than 24 hours.

“Just an hour’s flight from Qatar, Dubai is a familiar destination for global travelers,” Taufiq Rahim, a researcher at the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, told CNBC. “Its tourist infrastructure and simple entry requirements make it a convenient base for World Cup fans.”

Qatar is expected to have delivered 45,000 hotel rooms in total by early November, according to Cushman & Wakefield Qatar, with tournament accommodation “bolstered by cruise ships, camping facilities, apartments and villas”. Meanwhile, Dubai as a city has more than 140,000 hotel rooms, according to hotel data firm STR.

Across the various emirates of the UAE, 43 fan zones have been set up to watch matches, with some of the largest, such as Budweiser’s official BudX fan zone at Dubai Harbour, large enough to host 10,000 fans daily with matches broadcast on huge screens of 3,552 square feet. . There’s even a football-themed hotel in Dubai’s man-made Palm archipelago where the most dedicated fans can stay while being shuttled in and out of Doha for the daily matches.

General view of downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 8, 2021.

Satish Kumar | Reuters

A $20,000 per night match viewing experience

Dubai’s revenue won’t just come from hotel and restaurant stays. Visitors to the emirate can charter superyachts that run for tens of thousands of dollars per night to watch matches as they cruise the Persian Gulf.

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Xclusive Yachts, the UAE’s largest private yacht charter company, offers its most opulent maritime experience at $20,000 per night on a three-deck superyacht with a skydeck, on-board bar, skylounge, five cabins and a Michelin-starred chef serving gourmet meals.

“We expect more than 300% [rise] in yacht bookings in November and December mainly due to World Cup and Qatar visitors who are also looking for leisure activities in Dubai,” managing director Amit Patel told Doha News in October.

Akbar al-Baker (3rd-L), Qatar’s Minister of Tourism and CEO of Qatar Airways, gives a press conference on preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, in the capital Doha on May 26 of 2022, while accompanied by Oman Air CEO Abdulaziz al-Raisi, flydubai CEO Ghaith al-Ghaith and Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) CEO Captain Ibrahim Koshy.

Karim Jaafar | Afp | Getty Images

Flight traffic is also soaring: Dubai Airports announced in mid-November that 120 shuttle flights will fly in and out of Dubai World Central Airport each day between the start and end dates of the tournament, from November 20 to December 18.

And on Monday, Flydubai chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith said almost all of the airline’s match-day shuttle flights to Doha were at full capacity.

“This is a pattern that looks set to continue over the coming days and weeks,” Al Ghaith said.

Flydubai and Qatar Airways will jointly operate match day shuttle flights between DWC and Doha. With flights from Dubai’s main airport, Dubai International (DXB), travelers can catch a flight every 30 to 50 minutes.

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Rising demand for private jets

But like everything in Dubai, there is a luxury option if you have the money to spend: private jet charter companies have seen a boom in business, with some fans willing to pay handsome sums to get to the games.

“We definitely see a big increase in traffic between Dubai and Doha over the next month,” Oleg Kafarov, director of communications and portfolio development at Dubai-based private jet company Jetex, told CNBC.

Jetex offers two packages: a full private jet service priced at AED 240,000 ($65,340) for up to 10 passengers, or individual seats priced at AED 29,000 ($7,895) each. The flight time between Dubai and Doha is approximately one hour.

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The company even decorated its VIP terminal at DWC airport as a World Cup fan zone, with a mini soccer field and other themed decorations.

Despite the high prices, demand for private flights is significantly higher than this time last year, charter operators report, although figures vary by company.

Ian Moore, commercial director of private charter company VistaJet, says more than 70 of its executive flights to Qatar for matches are already booked.

“Obviously, there are people who are waiting to see if their favorite team makes it through the qualifying rounds,” Moore told Gulf News.

“We are urging our customers to book with us as soon as possible, even with a private jet, given the restrictions and the number of flights that Doha expects, it needs to be well organized and well structured.”


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