Dubai: Over 12,000 football fans in the UAE have booked luxury hospitality packages to take in the matches that will play out at Doha World Cup venues starting Sunday (November 20) evening. This makes it the highest ever UAE contingent to date for the FIFA World Cup tournament. It helps, of course, that Doha is just a short flight away.
The ‘Match Club’ experience, worth $950 per person for a group match, is the lowest-priced package. The ‘Match Pavilion’ tickets are at $1,900, while ‘Match Business’ seats go for $3,050. The private suite option boasts a dining experience and access to top-class stadium seating, and is ticketed at $22,450 per suite. From Dubai, peak demand is from British, Lebanese and Iranian expats, with a surge in bookings coming through now from UAE fans too, says Alan Holt, Managing Director of Expat Sport, the exclusive UAE sales agent for the FIFA World Cup 2022 Official Match Hospitality programme. “Unfortunately, the challenge now is availability, but we still have options for most games - (it’s) just extremely limited on the most popular ones.”
The England vs Iran game is proving to be extremely popular with fans in the UAE, plus any featuring legends of the game"
Enquiries for tickets to the matches in Qatar have gone up 500 per cent over the past 10 days. “We also have people who already have tickets but now look to add family members or secure shuttle flights around the games,” said Holt. “So, there is now a focus on the logistics and planning side.”
All part of the game
Ahmed Soliman, Managing Director of Travel Connections Arabia (TCA), said, “Sport travel experiences are nothing new in the luxury travel industry - from golf to horse racing, tennis to football, and even the Olympics. Concierge travel services can create packages that provide end-to-end solutions for high networth individuals that provide an experience beyond the sport itself.”
At the World Cup in Doha, just the most ‘affordable’ of high-end packages for a quarterfinal match can start from $11,000 for just one day, including air transfers, four-star hotel accommodations and match access for two people. “The prices will only go up from there, and you could be looking at the spending of $20,000 plus for the semi-finals and final matches, all for 90 minutes of football (barring extra time),” said Soliman. Since most football fans prefer to take shuttle flights to fly over for the day rather than staying for the duration in Doha, demand for football-related luxury experiences in Dubai has skyrocketed close to the games.
“The top countries bookings are coming in from are South America, Mexico, the UK, China and India,” said Holt. “We have also just released a ‘Saudi Fans’ package to stay in Dubai for four days across the UAE National Day weekend, plus fly to see the Saudi Arabia vs. Mexico game on the day shuttle. We released that late last week and have already received several enquiries.”
Most popular with UAE fans
The England vs Iran game is proving to be extremely popular with fans in the UAE, plus any featuring legends of the game.
The most popular package outside of the group matches has been the quarterfinals, which is due to it being held over a long weekend. “Fly over on Friday, December 9, watch two games across two days – something that has not been possible at other World Cups due to geographical distance,” said Alan Holt of Expat Sport.