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

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2022-11-15 23:23:16

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 sophisticated: Why had Qatar, a tiny, conservative, Islamic emirate within the Persian Gulf labored so laborious and spent a lot to play host to the event?

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

(NurPhoto by way of 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 area nor the endurance to take care of greater than 1,000,000 rowdy soccer followers, a lot of whom know nothing of the nation or its tradition.

That, nonetheless, is the purpose, mentioned 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 and so they may need their very own perceptions from what they learn and what they hear,” she mentioned 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. “If you come right here, it’s completely totally different. You find out about new issues, new tradition, new traditions. It provides you a distinct 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 outdoors the stadium.”

Exterior of Katara Cultural Village.

A nighttime view of Katara Cultural Village.

(Mustafa Abumunes / AFP by way of 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 Competition 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 finished 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, tons of of civilians, together with diplomats summoned again from abroad, have been known as up for necessary army service working safety checkpoints at World Cup stadiums.

However there’s additionally an upside. Qatar has grow to be certainly one of richest nations on the earth because of massive deposits of oil and pure gasoline, assets the federal government is aware of are nonrenewable. So it has already begun the lengthy and laborious job 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 improvement 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 Components 1 Grand Prix to worldwide bowling, squash, desk tennis and equestrian occasions. That has hurried alongside infrastructure spending on freeway and light-rail development and growth of Hamad Worldwide Airport.

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

The actual purpose, she mentioned, is to get the world to come back 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 event will kick off subsequent month and for those who’re one of many greater than 2.8 million individuals who have tickets — or for those who plan on skipping the insanity and visiting the nation someday after the event — right here’s a information that can assist you navigate a most compelling and sophisticated nation.

What it’s essential 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 by way of Getty Photos)

When you don’t have World Cup tickets by now, you’re in all probability 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 FIFA.com/tickets, by the top of the event on Dec. 18. Some tickets will also 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 recreation — and even the nation. For that you just’ll additionally want a digital Hayya fan ID card, which could be utilized for at hayya.qatar2022.qa. World Cup guests will want a sound ticket utility quantity and a Hayya voucher code to guide lodging.

To enter the nation beneath regular circumstances (a.okay.a. when there isn’t 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 the complete course of takes place whenever you arrive in Qatar. You have to a sound passport, good for a minimum of six months, affirmation of a return ticket and a debit or bank card to pay the $28 payment for a vacationer visa. The visa is legitimate for 30 days and could be prolonged.

Beginning Nov. 1, you’ll not want to indicate proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a detrimental PCR take a look at to enter the nation.

Right here’s a tip for these touring to Qatar on Qatar Airways: The airline affords one thing known as Al Maha Companies. For a further payment, a devoted airline worker will information vacationers by 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 by way of Getty Photos)

Regardless of an enormous development growth through the 12-year run-up to the World Cup, Qatar has simply greater than 40,000 resort rooms, far wanting the stock wanted for an occasion just like the World Cup. So the nation has provide you with plenty of novel choices that embody housing guests in fan villages and Bedouin-style desert tents. There are additionally residences 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 each day shuttle flights from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh, permitting followers to remain in neighboring nations and fly into Doha earlier than and after video games.

If all that appears like an excessive amount of of a problem, or for those who actually don’t like soccer, visiting Qatar after the World Cup is a breeze.

What to do and see in Qatar in addition to 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 by way of Getty Photos)

Sampling Qatar means sampling its historical past, and Qataris are solely too joyful 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 slender alleyways linked to a large most important plaza, the Souq lengthy served as a buying and selling put up for Bedouin arriving by camel and vacationers in small boats. Its retailers nonetheless collect daily, as they’ve for hundreds of years, dressed within the conventional lengthy white thobe and a free headdress known as a gutra, consuming sturdy Qatari espresso and arguing in regards to 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 by way of Getty Photos)

On one fringe of {the marketplace} is the Falcon Souq — the phrase “souq” interprets as market — the place you’ll be able to 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, lately Qatar has additionally constructed a number of world-class museums to show the nation’s tradition and heritage in a extra formal manner.

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 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 surprise by I.M. Pei, who was coaxed out of retirement at 91 to design the constructing. Constructed on an island off a synthetic 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 form to function 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 steel work, ceramics, jewellery, textile and glass, in addition to a priceless Quranic manuscript.

A extra distinctive expertise could be had on the Msheireb Museums, 4 historic heritage homes within the outdated a part of the capital devoted to the cultural and social improvement of Qatar. Of the 4 the Bin Jelmood Home, which focuses on the historical past of slavery within the Arab Gulf, a observe 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 mistaken, nothing is mistaken.” The exhibitions are notably well timed since a lot of Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure was constructed by migrant employees employed beneath 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, web site of eight World Cup matches. At greater than 200,000 sq. ft, the museum, which opened in March, is likely one of the largest on the earth devoted to sports activities. Among the many gadgets within the assortment are a soccer ball from England’s 1888 FA Cup closing, the bobsled utilized by the Jamaican group 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 reveals and artifacts is on world 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 gasoline 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 ft 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 motels 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, motels, luxury-brand outlets from Maserati and Rolls-Royce showrooms to modern eating places and cafes providing all the pieces 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 seashore.

Wish to dwell the historical past of Qatar? Nicely, time recedes shortly whenever you go away town for the desert. Contemplate 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.

In the course of the World Cup, greater than 90 particular occasions together with music festivals, cultural shows and avenue 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 by way of 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 usually are not Qatari residents — the nation has grow to be a gastronomic melting pot that includes world-class choices from dozens of nations.

As talked about earlier, the Souq Waqif has a wide selection of choices served in a snug however conventional (learn: budget-conscious) model. I’d advocate 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 situated in motels, starting with the Saffron, which affords each delectable Thai meals and a wide ranging view from the highest flooring of the 31-story Banyan Tree resort in Mushaireb, the guts 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 places 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, affords a singular expertise starting along 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 most well-liked 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 surprising 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 resort bars and eating places are the one locations allowed to promote alcohol, however not all of them do. It’s not obtainable within the Souq Waqif, for instance, and of the eating places listed above, Mamig doesn’t serve alcohol. Name forward or verify a restaurant’s coverage earlier than making reservations — and for those who do discover a place that serves alcohol, be ready to pay $15 or extra for a easy beer except you make the most of joyful hour, which most bars and eating places provide.

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

Beer can also be obtainable on the official FIFA fan pageant 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.

Remember there’s zero tolerance for consuming in public outdoors these areas and being drunk in public is against the law in Qatar.

Want extra data? The Qatar 2022 Contact Heart affords 24/7 help in eight languages.

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

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