Tents could house 2022 World Cup fans in Qatar

Khalifa stadium in Doha, capital of Qatar. (Xinhua/Chen Shaojin)

Khalifa stadium in Doha, capital of Qatar. (Xinhua/Chen Shaojin)

Despite Qatar spending billions to upgrade infrastructure and build hotels, thousands could camp under canvas in desert close to stadiums, as organisers believe this to be a more creative way for Qatar to meet FIFA requirements. Their World Cup bid in 2010 said it would create more than 55,000 rooms, but authorities said in January that 46,000 rooms would be ready.

“At the heart of this World Cup is a commitment to show the hospitality and friendship of the Middle East. As a result, we are actively researching the concept of supporters sleeping under the stars,” a spokesperson for Qatar’s World Cup Supreme Committee told Reuters.

“With six years to go, all options are still being explored but we are excited by the possibility of supporters enjoying a range of accommodations designed for all needs.”

Qatar is also looking at more possibilities such as promoting private accommodation services such as Airbnb and letting spectators use cruise ships docked along the coast, according to the government. They’re also encouraging fans to stay in neighbouring countries such as UAE and Bahrain, where hotel rooms and alcohol could be more available, and fly in to watch matches.

But some projects have stalled including a $12 billion bridge and underwater tunnel link across Doha bay and the building of at least two hotels in the capital due to budget cautions amid the low oil prices crisis.

“In the past five years the number of hotel rooms has doubled, now they are looking at doubling them again,” a former Qatari diplomat expressed some of the frustration the citizens feel. “People are asking: ‘How sustainable is this?’ ‘Once the cup is over what do we, as Qataris, really need with all these hotels?'”

Desert camping, a popular winter activity for Qataris, who are known for assembling luxurious sites among the sand dunes, could help allay concerns about thin occupancy after the event, analysts say according to Al-Jazeera.

The Supreme Committee did not say if the camps would serve as the specially created “fanzones” in which conservative Muslim Qatar has said fans will be allowed to consume alcohol, as the public ban on alcohol is still active in Qatar, limiting alcohol sales to luxury hotels.

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