Doha Stadium
More hotel rooms are being released for football fans during the FIFA World Cup duration. The rush is on. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: Here’s the deal – you have got the prized tickets to the FIFA World Cup, but where exactly should you be staying to keep the spending under control?

While a sizeable number of football fans plan to travel to and from the UAE on match days, there are those who have booked into hotels in Doha itself for the latest edition of the sports spectacle. “To avail a good deal (on hotels in Doha), fans can stay far from the stadiums and use the free metro to travel (for the matches) and around the city,” said Godfrey Lopez at Dubai-based Uranus Travel.

Because doing so will sit well on your bills. Currently, five-star hotels in Doha are priced between Dh4,000 and Dh10,000 a night and could go up to Dh19,000 levels for just the November 20-25 period, which is when the tournament starts. Four-star hotel tariffs hover in the Dh5,000 to Dh7,000 range.

Qatar FIFA World Cup
Closer to December, the hotel rates will ratchet up as the tournament enters the everything-at-stake phase.

Not surprisingly, demand for this category of hotel rooms is running high among the fans for being competitively priced while providing near-similar services to that of a five-star hotel. Travel agents say, if football fans haven’t booked their accommodation earlier, they could end up only with the hotel suite options, which start from Dh24,000 levels per night for two people.

For the next two months, hotel room rates are going to be ‘very volatile’, both in Dubai and Doha. “Demand for both hotels and flights depend on which team is playing,” said Lopez. “If it is one among Argentina, Portugal or Brazil, we can expect a high demand because of their fan base.”

Another alternative to finding good accommodation deals in Doha is to be in close touch with Doha-based travel agents. “They and online portals book rooms six months in advance and offer them to travellers at a much higher cost,” said a source. “Compared to online portals, travel agents might be able to provide cheaper deals.”

There could also be deals direct from hotels, with breakfast or no cancellation fees if the booking is done directly.

Qatar FIFA World Cup
About 1.5 million fans, a little more than half the population of Qatar, are expected to descend upon the Gulf state for this year's FIFA World Cup football tournament.

They can book now

According to media reports, fans are now able to reserve hotel rooms that had previously been sealed off by FIFA 2022 World Cup organisers. The accommodations had been withheld by FIFA and Qatar’s Supreme Committee in order to give preference to the competing teams, sponsors and their visitors, officials, royal guests, and ticketed fans.

However, according to an industry source, thousands of unallocated rooms are now being freed ahead of the World Cup.

How to get to Doha from Dubai?

Visitors need to apply for a Hayya Card to be able to gain entry into the country, and stadiums, and use free transportation to and from stadiums on Doha Metro. It’s essential that all visitors arriving in Qatar between November 1, and January 23, apply for Hayya Card before arrival. This applies to day-trippers and fans with accommodation.

For visitors coming to Dubai for the World Cup, the UAE has announced a new multiple-entry visa for Hayya Card holders, which costs Dh100 and is valid for 90 days.

Shuttle flights

Football fans heading from UAE to Qatar can return on a flight back later that same day – flydubai, Air Arabia, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways will be putting on a shuttle service daily to bring fans to and from Doha for match day without having to book an overnight stay.

flydubai shuttle flights will depart from Dubai World Central (DWC).

For travel from Dubai, flydubai has said that match day shuttle flights can be booked for an adult or child in Economy from $258 (Dh950) and in Business from $998 (Dh3,665). These fares are non-refundable and do not include a checked baggage allowance. The passenger must be a ticket holder to the football tournament to be eligible for a shuttle flight.

COVID-19 protocol
Regardless of the individual’s vaccination status, visitors aged six and over are required to present an official negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken no more than 48 hours before departure time or an official negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) result no more than 24 hours before departure time. The test result will need to be submitted at the airport check-in counter (RAT self-tests are not valid for travel purposes).

Visitors are not required to take a COVID-19 test after arrival in Qatar.