Qatar gears up for FIFA WC tourism boom, to welcome over 1 mn football fans

Qatar is gearing up for a FIFA World Cup tourism boom as the tiny Gulf state prepares to welcome more than a million soccer fans. One complication: many of them can’t or won’t stay there.

An accommodation squeeze and low tolerance for alcohol and partying in the conservative Muslim nation means tens of thousands of fans will base themselves in nearby countries for the monthlong tournament. Match-day flights from major West Asian cities will shuttle spectators to games, benefitting airlines, hotels and hospitality venues across nations including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The already popular tourism hub of Dubai stands to benefit the most. Of the more than 90 new flights that will land each day in the host city, Doha, about 40 will leave from the UAE. A new hotel built on an artificial, palm-shaped island has been set aside for guests who plan to base themselves in Dubai and take the 40-minute flight to Doha with streamlined immigration procedures.

Dubai will be “the major gateway” to the World Cup with probably more people coming through the city than Qatar, said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive officer of Dubai Airports.

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