Dubai cashing in on 2022 World Cup in Qatar

A yacht that can be chartered to watch the FIFA World Cup while sailing around Dubai is docked in Dubai Harbor on November 1, 2022 ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup football tournament in Qatar. Photo by Giuseppe CACACE/AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Giuseppe Cacache | Afp | Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates. Qatar isn’t the only country experiencing a massive tourism boom thanks to hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The neighboring United Arab Emirates will also benefit from this wave, as their glitzy commercial capital Dubai welcomes around 1 million extra visitors during the football tournament, according to the Dubai Sports Council.

Paul Griffiths, the CEO of Dubai Airports, called Dubai the “main gateway” to the World Cup in August and predicted it would welcome more tourists than Qatar itself.

And the city is doing its best, using its reputation as a hyper-modern city, more liberal and built-up than Qatar, and touting the extravagant tourist attractions for which it has earned a reputation.

Dubai is known for incredible and outlandish experiences such as an indoor ski resort in the desert, the world’s deepest man-made swimming pool, the world’s tallest building and the largest Ferris wheel. Now it has added special events around the World Cup while capitalizing on the fact that Qatar, a tiny country of 3 million people, is struggling to accommodate all the expected tourists and many of them will instead choose to stay in Dubai for matches. .

Getty Images | A general view of the West Bay area ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on November 18, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

Getty Images | François Nel

This is made possible by “matchday air shuttles” operated by Qatar Airlines and Dubai-based low-cost airline FlyDubai, allowing travelers to book same-day round trip tickets from Dubai or nearby Oman to attend a match in Qatar and return less than 24 hours.

“Just an hour from Qatar, Dubai is a familiar destination for travelers from all over the world,” Taufik Rahim, a fellow at the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, told CNBC. “Its tourist infrastructure and simple entry requirements make it a convenient base for World Cup fans.”

Qatar is expected to provide a total of 45,000 hotel rooms by early November, according to Cushman & Wakefield Qatar, with tournament accommodation “supported by cruise ships, campsites, apartments and villas.” Dubai, meanwhile, as a city, has over 140,000 hotel rooms, according to hotel company STR.

43 fan zones have been set up across the emirates of the UAE to watch matches, with some of the largest, such as the official Budweiser BudX fan zone in Dubai Harbor, being large enough to host 10,000 fans daily, with matches broadcast on huge 3-foot screens. 552 square feet. . Dubai’s man-made Palm Archipelago even has a football-themed hotel where die-hard fans can stay while they’re transported to and from Doha for the daily matches.

A general view of the city center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 8, 2021.

Satish Kumar | Reuters

$20,000 to watch a match per night

Dubai’s income will not only come from staying in hotels and restaurants. Visitors to the emirate can charter superyachts worth tens of thousands of dollars per night to watch matches while sailing the Persian Gulf.

Xclusive Yachts, the largest privately owned yacht charter company in the UAE, offers the most luxurious sailing trips on the planet. $20,000 per night on a three-deck superyacht complete with a lookout, on-board bar, sky lounge, five cabins and a Michelin-starred chef who prepares gourmet meals.

“We expect over 300% [rise] in yacht bookings in November and December mainly due to visitors to the World Cup and Qatar who are also looking for holiday opportunities in Dubai,” Managing Director Amit Patel told Doha News in October.

Akbar Al-Baker (3rd from left), Qatar Minister of Tourism and CEO of Qatar Airways, gives a press conference on preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar in the capital Doha on May 26, 2022, accompanied by Oman Air CEO Abdulaziz. Al Raisi, flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith and Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) CEO Captain Ibrahim Koshi.

Karim Jaafar | Afp | Getty Images

Passenger traffic is also on the rise, with Dubai airports announcing in mid-November that a whopping 120 shuttle flights will operate daily from Dubai World Central Airport between November 20 and December 18.

And on Monday, Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said almost all of the airline’s shuttle flights on the day of the match in Doha were at full capacity.

“This is a pattern that looks set to continue for the next couple of days and weeks,” Al Ghaith said.

Flydubai and Qatar Airways will jointly operate shuttle flights between DWC and Doha on the day of the match. With the addition of flights from Dubai’s main airport, Dubai International Airport (DXB), travelers can fly every 30 to 50 minutes.

Demand for private jets is on the rise

But like everything in Dubai, there is a luxury option if you have the cash to spend: private charter companies have seen a boom in business and some fans are willing to pay hefty sums to get to matches.

“We are definitely seeing a significant increase in traffic between Dubai and Doha next month,” Oleg Kafarov, director of portfolio development and communications at Jetex, a Dubai-based private charter company, told CNBC.

Jetex offers two packages: a full private jet package at AED240,000 ($65,340) for 10 passengers, or individual seats at AED29,000 ($7,895) apiece. Flight time between Dubai and Doha is approximately one hour.

The company has even decorated its VIP terminal at the DWC airport as a World Cup fan zone with a mini soccer field and other themed decorations.

Despite high prices, demand for private flights is significantly higher than at the same time last year, charter operators say, although the numbers vary from company to company.

Ian Moore, chief commercial officer for private charter company VistaJet, says more than 70 of her executive jet flights to Qatar for matches have already been booked.

“Obviously there are people who are waiting to see if their favorite team makes it through the qualifying rounds,” Moore told Gulf News.

“We strongly encourage our clients to book with us as early as possible, even if you are traveling by private jet, given the restrictions and number of flights expected in Doha, you should be well organized and well structured.”

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