Dubai is cashing on on the 2022 Qatar World Cup

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

Giuseppe Cacace | Afp | Getty Images

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Qatar isn’t the only country that has seen a huge boom in tourism thanks to its hosting of the 2022 World Cup.

Neighboring United Arab Emirates is set to benefit from the wave as well, with its attractive commercial capital Dubai set to welcome an estimated one million more visitors during the football tournament, according to the Dubai Sports Council.

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

And the city is doing all it can, capitalizing on its reputation as an ultra-modern, more liberal, built city than Qatar and advertising the extravagant tourist attractions it has become famous for.

Dubai is known for its amazing and exotic experiences – such as a complex of indoor ski slopes in the desert, the world’s deepest man-made pool, the world’s tallest building and the largest Ferris wheel. It has now added specific World Cup themed experiences, simultaneously taking advantage of the fact that Qatar, a small country of 3 million people, is struggling to accommodate all the expected tourists and many will choose to stay in Dubai for the matches instead.

This is made possible by ‘match day air shuttles’ operated by Qatar Airways and Dubai-based low-cost carrier flydubai – allowing travelers to book same-day return flights from neighboring Dubai or Oman to a match in Qatar and back in as little as 24 hours. hour.

“Only an hour away from Qatar by plane, Dubai is a familiar destination for global travelers,” Tawfiq Rahim, a research fellow at the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, told CNBC. “The tourism infrastructure and direct entry requirements make it a convenient base for World Cup fans.”

Qatar is expected to have delivered 45,000 hotel rooms in total by the start of November, according to Cushman & Wakefield Qatar, with the tournament being held “supported by cruise ships, camping facilities, apartments and villas”. Meanwhile, Dubai, as a city, has more than 140,000 hotel rooms, according to hotel data firm STR.

Across the various emirates of the UAE, 43 fan zones have been set up for watching matches, with some of the largest – such as Budweiser’s official fan zone in Dubai Harbour – large enough to host 10,000 fans a day with matches broadcast on huge screens of 3,552 square feet. . There is even a football-themed hotel on Dubai’s man-made archipelago of The Palm, where the most dedicated fans can stay as they commute to and from Doha for the daily matches.

A general view of the downtown area in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 8, 2021.

Satish Kumar | Reuters

$20,000 a night match watching experience

Dubai’s revenue will not only come from hotel and restaurant stays. Visitors to the emirate can rent luxury yachts that run for tens of thousands of dollars per night to watch matches as they sail across the Persian Gulf.

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Xclusive Yachts, the UAE’s largest private yacht charter company, offers its most luxurious cruise experience for $20,000 per night on a tri-deck super yacht with a Skydi Tower, onboard bar and loft lounge, five cabins and a Michelin-starred chef serving gourmet meals.

“We expect more than 300% [rise] in yacht bookings in November and December, mainly due to World Cup and Qatar visitors who are also looking for leisure activities in Dubai.”

Akbar Al Baker (third left), Qatar’s Minister of Tourism and CEO of Qatar Airways, holds a press conference regarding preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, in the capital, Doha, on May 26, 2022, while he is accompanied by Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air Abdulaziz. Principal, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai Ghaith Al-Ghaith, and Captain Ibrahim Kushi, Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudi Arabia).

Karim Jaafar | Afp | Getty Images

Air traffic is also skyrocketing – Dubai Airports announced in mid-November that 120 massive shuttle flights will fly in and out of Dubai World Central each day between the tournament’s start and finish dates of November 20 and December 18.

On Monday, flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said that almost all match day shuttle flights to Doha were at full capacity.

“This is a pattern that seems to continue over the next couple of days and weeks,” Al-Ghaith said.

On match day, flydubai and Qatar Airways will jointly operate shuttle services between Dubai World Central and Doha. With the addition of flights from Dubai’s main airport, Dubai International Airport (DXB), passengers can catch a flight every 30 to 50 minutes.

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Booming demand for private jets

But like everything in Dubai, there’s a luxury option if you’ve got the money to spend: private jet charters have seen a boom in business, with some fans willing to pay huge sums to get matches.

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

Jetex offers two packages: full private jet service at AED 240,000 ($65,340) for up to 10 passengers, or single seats at AED 29,000 ($7,895) apiece. The flight between Dubai and Doha takes about an hour.

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The company even decorated the DWC Airport VIP Terminal as a World Cup fan zone, complete with a mini soccer field and other themed decorations.

Despite the exorbitant prices, demand for private flights is much higher than this time last year, charter airlines report, though numbers vary from company to company.

Ian Moore, commercial director of private carrier VistaJet, says more than 70 of its business jet flights to Qatar for matches have already been booked.

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

“We strongly encourage our customers to book with us as soon as possible, even on a private jet, given the restrictions and the volume of flights Doha is expecting, you need to be well planned and organised.”

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