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Travelling to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022? Here’s everything you need to know

Planning a trip can be daunting, especially one that revolves around one of the biggest sporting events on earth. Take cues from this guide on flights, stay options, tickets, and things to do and eat in Qatar.

July 16, 2022 / 11:59 AM IST
The Pearl-Qatar, Doha. Qatar has a 560km coastline. (Image: Visit Qatar via Unsplash)

The Pearl-Qatar, Doha. Qatar has a 560km coastline. (Image: Visit Qatar via Unsplash)

Come November, an estimated 1.5 million fans from around the world will descend on Qatar for the 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup. This will be the first time ever that football’s biggest and most highly anticipated event will be hosted in the Arab world.

For first-time travellers to Qatar and even for those who’ve been to the Middle Eastern nation before, planning a trip that revolves around the World Cup can be a daunting task.

Ardent fan and entrepreneur Ankur Choudhury is looking forward to visiting Qatar in December for the final match. “Even though my favourite team, Italy didn’t qualify for the World Cup this time, I still want to go watch at least the final match live. This is the first time that the tournament is being held so close to India, and I’d be missing a great chance if I didn’t go for it,” he says.

Choudhury also plans to take his wife and 2-year-old son along and make a family holiday out of it for 3-4 days. “That is where I get confused about the trip planning,” he says. “I still have to find a hotel that’d be safe and suitable for a family. Plus, I’m pretty clueless about what to do or see there besides the World Cup.”

From finding the right accommodation that suits your budget and preference, to searching for places to eat and things to do besides attending the matches, to Covid travel requirements, drawing up such a travel plan can indeed be challenging. Which is why we’ve done the homework and put together this guide on everything there is to know about travelling to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup:

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The destination

Occupying a small desert peninsula on the west coast of the Persian Gulf, the independent emirate of Qatar presents a rich cultural tapestry with modern cosmopolitan sophistication. Here ancient dwellings and neolithic rock carvings are only a stone’s throw away from modern skyscrapers, world-class museums and glistening malls.

Capital city and economic centre Doha is Qatar’s fastest growing city, with over 80 percent of the nation’s population living here. It ranks high on the Global Peace Index and is one of the safest places to live in or travel to for both individuals and families.

With 13 percent of the global oil reserves under its control, Qatar is also one of the richest countries in the world. Yet, it is fairly easy to visit and explore without breaking the bank.

How to reach

National carrier Qatar Airways flies several times daily from Delhi and Mumbai to Doha’s Hamad International Airport. Additionally, a host of other international and domestic airlines fly to or via Doha from major cities in India. Qatar Airways has also introduced World Cup Travel Packages that include round-trip flights from your city of departure to Doha, accommodation at a hotel in the category of your choice with daily breakfast, and tournament tickets with guaranteed seats at your favourite team’s matches.

Qatar flights and stay options for people going for FIFA World Cup 2022

*Air fares and hotel tariffs are subject to change; book early to avoid any last-minute surge. Also read our story on flight cancellations and refunds, to minimize losses.

Covid guidelines

Fully-vaccinated and recovered passengers travelling to Qatar from India will have to present a negative RT-PCR test result, obtained no more than 48 hours before departure.

Unvaccinated children below the age of 12 travelling with vaccinated or recovered parents are not required to have a pre-travel PCR test, but will have to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test at a public clinic within 24 hours of arrival in Qatar.

Pre-arrival registration is also required on www.ehteraz.gov.qa.

Please note that these guidelines are current and may change in the coming months, so it’s advisable to check Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health website before your actual travels.

Getting around

Doha has a robust public transport system, with the state-of-the-art Doha Metro featuring driverless 100 kmph trains connecting the capital’s best cultural, leisure and shopping attractions. It also links Hamad International Airport to five of the eight stadiums where the World Cup matches are scheduled to be held. A journey costs as little as 2 QAR (Qatari Riyal), after you purchase a reusable travel card valid for five years for 10 Riyal (around Rs 215). A series of tram services also operates in specific districts of the city for the same cost.

Cycling is another great way to explore Doha, with new tracks being added constantly. Most notable is the 33 km-long Olympic Cycling Track, which holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous cycle path in the world. Several 5 km-long, less strenuous tracks include the Lusail International Circuit, the scenic Al Bidda Park and the Aspire Zone Park. Bicycles can be hired at the tracks for a small fee.

Also read: MC Travel Special | Around Doha with an Olympic cyclist

Where to stay

There is no dearth of accommodation in Qatar across a range of budgets. Options within the city include the Four Seasons Hotel Doha, with seven restaurants, a three-storey spa and wellness centre, comprehensive business facilities and a private beach. The luxury villas at the Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village blend traditional architecture with modern comforts, while the St Regis Doha features a private beach, tennis courts and rooms with views of the Arabian Gulf.

Best value hotels include the Curve Hotel Qatar that sits in the heart of the city skyline overlooking the sea, with a design that follows the curvature of the Doha Corniche, the waterfront promenade along Doha Bay. In the middle of the historical Old Doha district, Centro Capital Doha offers affordable 4-star amenities with a stylish modern design. The Four Points by Sheraton Doha is conveniently located across a metro station and offers 120 spacious rooms and suites.

Qatar is also in the process of setting up thousands of traditional Bedouin tents in the vast desert for World Cup visitors. Nearly 200 of these tents will boast high levels of luxury and serve traditional Arabic food and drinks. Two cruise ships as well as homestays across the city are other stay options for the fans.

Katara Cultural Village, Doha, Qatar. (image: Visit Qatar via Unsplash) Katara Cultural Village, Doha, Qatar. (image: Visit Qatar via Unsplash)

Things to See & Do

Except for its 60 km-long border with Saudi Arabia, Qatar is surrounded by the Persian Gulf that lends it a coastline of 560 km. This means a choice of public beaches to spend the day basking in the sun, sea and sand.

One of the most popular is the Sealine Beach in the desert dunes of south Qatar; just 40 minutes from Doha, it offers camel rides, desert safaris, dune bashing and other activities.

Half hour from there through the sand dunes of Mesaieed is Qatar’s jewel, the UNESCO-recognised natural reserve of Inland Sea, perfect for fishing, camping or sunset watching.

About 1.5 hours from Doha, Fuwairit Beach is one of the most beautiful with its powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters. It is also a hotspot for kitesurfing and a hatching site for the endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtles.

With an impressive open-air amphitheatre and a network of exhibition galleries, Katara Cultural Village is the place to go to if you want to soak up Qatari culture.

Souq Waqif is the country’s traditional marketplace, bustling with shops selling spices, souvenirs and traditional food.

Designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pie of the Paris Louvre fame, the Museum of Islamic Art houses the largest collection of Islamic art in the world, sourced from three continents over a span of 1,400 years.

Qatar also has several lush green parks, such as Aspire Park, ideal for a stroll or a picnic, MIA Park with the best vantage point of the Doha skyline, and Al Bidda Park that stretches down the coastline and has many sporting activities as well as rental barbeque spaces on offer. For more info: www.visitqatar.qa

What to eat

More than 3,000 restaurants in Qatar serve cuisines from around the world to suit every palate and pocket. While the country excels in fine-dining offerings, it also allows for budget dining without scrimping on quality.

With all menu items priced under QAR 20, Shay AlShomous, owned and run by a well-known local woman named Shams Al Qassabi, is a must-visit for authentic Qatari food.

The Karak Mqanes chain of restaurants has been serving Qatari recipes handed down generations.

With sandwiches priced under QAR 10, Petra is a trendy destination for bargain bites, while Marmara Istanbul Restaurant is one of the best places for cheap and delicious shawarmas.

Visitors in the mood for Indian flavours can grab a hearty plate of biryani at Biryani Corner, while Bharat Vasanta Bhavan serves an all-vegetarian menu, including South Indian dishes.

Also read: Doha street food: Must-eats in Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup in November

Falafel and kebabs at Abo Shariha, Souq Wakif, Doha. Falafel at Abo Shariha, Souq Wakif, Doha.

How to buy World Cup tickets

First Come First Served ticket sale for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is now open until August 16. This is the final window to buy your tickets. All ticket sales will take place through the official FIFA portal, and will strictly be on first come first serve basis.

There are various types of tickets, from individual matches to national team packages, as well as according to seat categories. To get the ticket of your choice, you’ll need to submit an application via the portal with your chosen selections, and simply pray that you get it!

Good to Know

• The national currency is Qatari Riyal (QAR); 1 QAR = INR 21

• Indians travelling to Qatar can apply for Visa on Arrival, with pre-booked hotel for the entire duration of stay. Such visas are valid for 30 days from the date of issuance on single or multiple entry, and can be extended to a further 30 days.

• A mandatory Hayya Card is also required to enter the State of Qatar and the eight stadiums during the World Cup. It is your key to free matchday travels as well. To buy, visit www.qatar2022.qa

• A travel insurance with Covid coverage would be beneficial in case of flight cancellations, delays or changes.
Satarupa Paul is an independent travel writer. Views expressed are personal.
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