World Cup 2022: What to do, see and eat in Qatar

World Cup 2022: What to do, see and eat in Qatar

2022-10-27 17:30:29

It was 115 levels on the summer season day I arrived in Qatar. That answered my first query: Why had FIFA, among the many most hidebound and conservative of worldwide sports activities our bodies, agreed to buck almost a century of custom by taking part in the World Cup within the winter?

The second query was a bit extra difficult: Why had Qatar, a tiny, conservative, Islamic emirate within the Persian Gulf labored so arduous and spent a lot to play host to the match?

Photos of Neymar, Andre Ayew and Dušan Tadić on 2022 FIFA World Cup posters masking West Bay skyscrapers in Doha, Qatar.

(NurPhoto through Getty Photos)

The World Cup kicks off Nov. 20 and over the next 28 days, greater than 1.2 million persons are anticipated to flood into a rustic that’s smaller than Connecticut and has a inhabitants about equal to Chicago’s. The nation and its unfailingly well mannered folks have neither the house nor the persistence to take care of greater than one million rowdy soccer followers, lots of whom know nothing of the nation or its tradition.

That, nevertheless, is the purpose, stated Fatma Al-Nuaimi, govt communications director of the Supreme Committee for Supply & Legacy, the native World Cup organizing physique.

“Lots of people will probably be coming right here they usually might need their very own perceptions from what they learn and what they hear,” she stated after a late dinner at an Armenian-Lebanese restaurant within the stylish Katara Cultural Village, a sprawling waterfront assortment of outlets, eating places and museums. “Once you come right here, it’s completely totally different. You find out about new issues, new tradition, new traditions. It offers you a unique perspective. For lots of vacationers, that is what they might be eager to search for and to discover and to complement the expertise they’ve exterior the stadium.”

Exterior of Katara Cultural Village.

A nighttime view of Katara Cultural Village.

(Mustafa Abumunes / AFP through Getty Photos)

A local sits on his stall at the Katara Traditional Dhow Festival in Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar.

An area sits in his stall on the Katara Conventional Dhow Pageant in Katara Cultural Village.

(Matthew Ashton – AMA / Getty Photos)

However will it’s a Faustian cut price? By regulation and customized, alcohol consumption is tightly managed in Qatar, homosexuality is prohibited, public shows of affection are a critical fake pas and a few labor rules are only a small step above indentured servitude.

To welcome the world, the nation has given in on all these issues. And whereas that was executed to appease worldwide critics, it hasn’t performed effectively at residence.

Then there’s the group.

The ultimate take a look at occasion in September, a soccer match that drew 78,000 folks, was beset by a sequence of logistical disasters, from lengthy traces and air-con and PA system failures to concession stands promoting out of water by halftime. In response, a whole bunch of civilians, together with diplomats summoned again from abroad, have been known as up for necessary navy service working safety checkpoints at World Cup stadiums.

However there’s additionally an upside. Qatar has turn into one in all richest international locations on this planet due to massive deposits of oil and pure fuel, assets the federal government is aware of are nonrenewable. So it has already begun the lengthy and laborious activity of diversifying the financial system.

Two years earlier than the controversial vote that awarded the World Cup to Qatar, the nation launched Nationwide Imaginative and prescient 2030, a multipronged plan to speculate $200 billion in financial, social, human and environmental growth and one designed, partially, to make the desert emirate a worldwide vacation spot for tourism, training and tradition.

Qatar additionally invested closely in sports activities tourism, staging greater than 600 worldwide occasions within the final decade, from the world monitor championships and a Method 1 Grand Prix to worldwide bowling, squash, desk tennis and equestrian occasions. That has hurried alongside infrastructure spending on freeway and light-rail building and growth of Hamad Worldwide Airport.

“These mega-events, there may be a part of it the place it’s truly serving to bridge gaps and cultures and bringing folks nearer collectively,” Al-Nuaimi stated. “There may be at all times a misperception of this a part of the world, the Arab world, the Muslim world. Having 1 million followers coming to Qatar from all components of the world, they’ll see a unique picture and having firsthand expertise of the nation itself.”

The true objective, she stated, is to get the world to return pattern Qatar, find out about its wealthy historical past and tradition and hopefully shed prejudices.

However whether or not Qatar is prepared or not, the 32-team match will kick off subsequent month and in case you’re one of many greater than 2.8 million individuals who have tickets — or in case you plan on skipping the insanity and visiting the nation someday after the match — right here’s a information that can assist you navigate a most compelling and sophisticated nation.

What you want to get into Qatar

A Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

A Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner lands at Barcelona airport with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 sticker.

(NurPhoto through Getty Photos)

In case you don’t have World Cup tickets by now, you’re most likely going to have a tough time getting them. Greater than 90% of the roughly 3 million tickets had been claimed by mid-October, however FIFA is promising to proceed promoting at, by way of the top of the match on Dec. 18. Some tickets can be discovered on the secondary market, though FIFA is urging followers to keep away from unauthorized web sites.

However a ticket gained’t be sufficient to get you right into a sport — and even the nation. For that you just’ll additionally want a digital Hayya fan ID card, which might be utilized for at World Cup guests will want a legitimate ticket software quantity and a Hayya voucher code to e-book lodging.

To enter the nation underneath regular circumstances (a.ok.a. when there is no such thing as a World Cup), U.S. residents want a visa waiver, often known as visa on arrival. You don’t have to use for that forward of time as your entire course of takes place once you arrive in Qatar. You have to a legitimate passport, good for no less than six months, affirmation of a return ticket and a debit or bank card to pay the $28 charge for a vacationer visa. The visa is legitimate for 30 days and might be prolonged.

Additionally, you will want to indicate proof of COVID-19 vaccinations and a detrimental PCR take a look at taken inside 48 hours of departure or a speedy antigen taken inside 24 hours.

Right here’s a tip for these touring to Qatar on Qatar Airways: The airline presents one thing known as Al Maha Companies. For an extra charge, a devoted airline worker will information vacationers by way of expedited immigration and customs formalities each on arrival and at departure. That may be a lifesaver, particularly after the almost 17-hour flight from Los Angeles.

The place to remain

A building decorate with the flags of the teams participating in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the Qatari capital Doha.

A constructing embellished with the flags of the groups taking part within the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha.

(Giuseppe Cacace /AFP through Getty Photos)

Regardless of a large building increase throughout the 12-year run-up to the World Cup, Qatar has simply greater than 40,000 lodge rooms, far in need of the stock wanted for an occasion just like the World Cup. So the nation has give you plenty of novel choices that embrace housing guests in fan villages and Bedouin-style desert tents. There are additionally flats and villas with one to 6 bedrooms at costs starting from $84 to $875 an evening, and 4,000 staterooms on two cruise ships anchored in Doha Bay.

Greater than a half-a-dozen airways have added 160 quick every day shuttle flights from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh, permitting followers to remain in neighboring international locations and fly into Doha earlier than and after video games.

If all that appears like an excessive amount of of a trouble, or in case you actually don’t like soccer, visiting Qatar after the World Cup is a breeze.

What to do and see in Qatar moreover the World Cup

People walk along an alley in in Doha's Souq Waqif.

Folks stroll alongside an alley in in Doha’s Souq Waqif.

(Giuseppe Cacace / AFP through Getty Photos)

Sampling Qatar means sampling its historical past, and Qataris are solely too completely happy to share. My favourite hang-out, a spot I couldn’t spend sufficient time in, was the Souq Waqif, town’s historical market.

A maze of slim alleyways linked to a large essential plaza, the Souq lengthy served as a buying and selling publish for Bedouin arriving by camel and vacationers in small boats. Its retailers nonetheless collect every single day, as they’ve for hundreds of years, dressed within the conventional lengthy white thobe and a free headdress known as a gutra, ingesting robust Qatari espresso and arguing concerning the day’s information whereas promoting conventional clothes, jewels, spices, handicrafts and souvenirs.

The Souq, now simply accessible on the metro’s gold line, can also be residence to an array of eating choices that includes meals from Thailand, Turkey, India, Iran, Italy, Lebanon, Latin America, Morocco and Syria and elsewhere.

Falcons are displayed at the sixth edition of Katara International Hunting and Falcons Exhibition 2022.

Falcons are displayed on the Katara Worldwide Searching and Falcons Exhibition 2022 in Katara Cultural Village. The exhibition was held from Sept. 5 to 10.

(Xinhua Information Company through Getty Photos)

On one fringe of {the marketplace} is the Falcon Souq — the phrase “souq” interprets as market — the place you possibly can view, {photograph} and even maintain the birds, which have a revered place in Qatari tradition. Close by is a state-of-the-art falcon hospital and simply past that may be a camel pen, residence to dozens of animals.

If the Souq Waqif is a real-life historical past lesson, in recent times Qatar has additionally constructed a number of world-class museums to show the nation’s tradition and heritage in a extra formal means.

The National Museum of Qatar is a national museum in Doha, Qatar.

The present constructing of the Nationwide Museum of Qatar opened to the general public in 2019.

(Shakeel Sha / Getty Photos)

The Nationwide Museum of Qatar, which opened in 2019, is value a go to only for the gorgeous work of architect Jean Nouvel, whose design was impressed by the desert rose. Inside, the museum tells Qatar’s story in a milelong journey by way of a sequence of galleries that present multisensory experiences from a number of views.

Equally spectacular is the close by Museum of Islamic Artwork, one other architectural marvel by I.M. Pei, who was coaxed out of retirement at 91 to design the constructing. Constructed on an island off a man-made peninsula, the museum sits on the finish of the Corniche, Doha’s scenic bayside promenade, and is accessible by two small bridges.

Doha Corniche, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA).

The Museum of Islamic Artwork is influenced by historical Islamic structure but has a uniquely fashionable design involving geometric patterns. It’s the first of its sort to characteristic greater than 14 centuries of Islamic artwork within the Arab States of the Persian Gulf.

(Elif Bulut Simsek / Getty Photos)

The 480,000-square-foot museum, which reopened in early October after an 18-month renovation, homes greater than 14 centuries of Islamic artwork from three continents, together with metallic work, ceramics, jewellery, textile and glass, in addition to a priceless Quranic manuscript.

A extra distinctive expertise might be had on the Msheireb Museums, 4 historic heritage homes within the outdated a part of the capital devoted to the cultural and social growth of Qatar. Of the 4 the Bin Jelmood Home, which focuses on the historical past of slavery within the Arab Gulf, a follow that wasn’t outlawed in Qatar till 1952, is a must-see.

Inside, a projector beams a passage from an 1864 letter written by Abraham Lincoln: “If slavery will not be flawed, nothing is flawed.” The exhibitions are significantly well timed since a lot of Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure was constructed by migrant employees employed underneath the kafala system, an exploitative and barely-legal type of indentured servitude that, in some ways, changed slavery. Worldwide criticism forward of the World Cup led to reform of the kafala system and a brand new minimum-wage construction, although abuses stay widespread.

One other distinctive gem is the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports activities Museum housed in Khalifa Worldwide Stadium, website of eight World Cup matches. At greater than 200,000 sq. toes, the museum, which opened in March, is among the largest on this planet devoted to sports activities. Among the many objects within the assortment are a soccer ball from England’s 1888 FA Cup last, the bobsled utilized by the Jamaican workforce within the 1988 Winter Video games, a baseball bat from Babe Ruth, boxing glove from Manny Pacquiaoand a Steffi Graf tennis racquet.

And whereas the main focus of the interactive displays and artifacts is on international sport, the museum consists of sections on such conventional Qatari favorites as falconry, pearl diving and camel racing.

Talking of historical past, earlier than the invention of oil and pure fuel Qatar’s financial system was constructed round pearls. Within the latter half of the nineteenth century, almost half the inhabitants was concerned within the pearl commerce, with divers crusing dhow boats into the nice and cozy gulf waters and descending as deep as 130 toes to reap clams for the treasure they hid inside.

That’s gone now however the outdated dhow harbor stays. Bay cruises within the lengthy, thin-hulled boats with Doha’s futuristic skyline as a backdrop are a great way to combine the previous and current.

Aerial view of The Pearl, upscale residential area in Doha.

An aerial view of the Pearl, an upscale residential space in Doha. The complicated, constructed on reclaimed land on the ocean, hosts residences in addition to luxurious resorts being constructed for the World Cup.

(Guillaume Halleux / Getty Photos)

A part of that fashionable skyline is the Pearl, a small man-made island divided into 12 districts of residential towers, resorts, luxury-brand outlets from Maserati and Rolls-Royce showrooms to modern eating places and cafes providing every part from South American and Lebanese delicacies to confectioneries.

Between the Pearl and the towering workplace buildings of the West Bay is the Katara Cultural Village, residence to eating places, artwork galleries and cultural organizations in addition to an open-air amphitheater, an opera home, a multipurpose cinema, a multipurpose convention corridor and a seaside.

Need to reside the historical past of Qatar? Properly, time recedes shortly once you depart town for the desert. Take into account a half-day sundown safari, camel rides, sandboarding or a tour of the inland sea, a Persian Gulf inlet on the border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Through the World Cup, greater than 90 particular occasions together with music festivals, cultural shows and road performances may even happen.

The place to eat

A view of Souq Waqif, a marketplace in Doha, capital and most populous city of Qatar.

The Souq Waqif, town’s historical market.

(Anadolu Company through Getty Photos)

Qatari delicacies is mixture of conventional Arab meals. Machboos, the nationwide dish, consists of rice and greens and both lamb or rooster. Seafood and dates are additionally staples. However given the ethnic make-up — greater than 2.5 million of the nation’s 2.9 million residents will not be Qatari residents — the nation has turn into a gastronomic melting pot that includes world-class choices from dozens of nations.

As talked about earlier, the Souq Waqif has a big selection of choices served in a cushty however conventional (learn: budget-conscious) model. I’d suggest beginning there since even probably the most finicky palates will discover one thing to their tastes.

The Katara Cultural Village is one other moderately priced meals court docket value roaming, with cafes, chocolatiers, sandwich and fast-food locations serving Greek, Italian, Egyptian, Mexican dishes and extra, in addition to upscale eating places providing Palestinian, Western European, Italian and Asian meals.

My favourite place was Mamig, a home-style restaurant — the title means grandmother in Armenian — serving a deep menu of Armenian and Lebanese choices.

A lot of Doha’s pricier eating places are positioned in resorts, starting with the Saffron, which presents each delectable Thai meals and a wide ranging view from the highest flooring of the 31-story Banyan Tree lodge in Mushaireb, the center of the outdated metropolis.

The Spice Market within the Doha Lodge and Residences within the West Bay serves Southeast Asian-inspired fare from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Additionally within the West Bay, Hakkasan, a Michelin-starred model with areas worldwide, serves Chinese language meals in a uniquely designed eating room or on the terrace.

Nobu, the Japanese restaurant on the 4 Seasons Lodge on the Corniche, presents a novel expertise starting together with your entrance up a floating driveway, over a bridge crossing a reflecting pool and right into a three-story constructing designed by David Rockwell. The preferred dishes are black cod yuzu miso and wagyu beef tacos.

Within the stylish Pearl District, Toro Toro serves genuine Latin American dishes from chef Richard Sandoval earlier than a shocking view of the bay. Sandoval has one other place within the West Bay known as Zengo that serves Asian fare, together with sushi, sashimi and curry on the 61st flooring of the Kempinski Residences & Suites.

The place to drink

Qatar is a Muslim nation the place Sharia regulation holds sway, so alcohol consumption is tightly managed and it can’t be bought in shops.

Licensed lodge bars and eating places are the one locations allowed to promote alcohol, however not all of them do. It’s not out there within the Souq Waqif, for instance, and of the eating places listed above, Mamig doesn’t serve alcohol. Name forward or examine a restaurant’s coverage earlier than making reservations — and in case you do discover a place that serves alcohol, be ready to pay $15 or extra for a easy beer except you make the most of completely happy hour, which most bars and eating places supply.

Native legal guidelines have been eased considerably for the World Cup, with organizers permitting beer consumption on the Arcadia Digital Music Pageant, a fan fest about two miles exterior Doha, will characteristic three efficiency levels and beer will probably be served there between 10 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Beer can also be out there on the official FIFA fan competition at Doha’s Al Bidda Park and to ticket-holders at choose areas inside the edges of World Cup stadiums previous to kickoff and after the ultimate whistle. Solely nonalcoholic drinks will probably be served contained in the stadiums themselves.

Take note there may be zero tolerance for ingesting in public exterior these areas and being drunk in public is against the law in Qatar.

Want extra data? The Qatar 2022 Contact Middle presents 24/7 assist in eight languages.

Moreover, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 25, there will probably be a Consular Companies Middle on the Doha Exhibition and Conference Middle which can present direct entry to embassy employees from the 32 certified international locations and international locations with the best variety of ticket gross sales. The middle will function every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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