Alcohol and dress – what you need to know before traveling to Qatar for the World Cup
The football soap opera never ends. Barely the whistle of today’s Champions League final than our attention will turn to another season and another showpiece event. We are now less than six months away from what could prove to be the most controversial tournament in sports history: the 22nd Men’s World Cup, due to be held in Qatar from November 21 to December 18 (qatar2022.qa). Everyone who applied for tickets will find out now, if not already, whether they made it – but there’s a bit more to think about with this particular goal fest than whether you can make it to a game…
Why is the tournament controversial?
Allegations of corruption and bribery in the bid process – firmly refuted – have swirled around the tournament since December 2010, when Qatar won what will be the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East. More serious are reports that more than 6,500 workers from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka died during the construction of infrastructure – including seven new stadiums – between 2010 and 2020 (this “low” number does not cover additional migrants from the Philippines and Kenya). Amnesty International also reported allegations of forced labor and wage deductions. The human rights organization has published stories of workers, who say they have been “abused and exploited – while Fifa makes huge profits”. Qatar has denied Amnesty’s allegations of worker exploitation. Other issues – particularly regarding LBGTQ fans – will be increasingly voiced as kick-off draws nearer.
I just want to watch the game live. Can I do this?
Assuming you made it on the ballot, then yes, absolutely. Ticket holders will receive more details, but a key step will be the need to apply for a “Hayya card” (see hayya.qatar2022.qa) – a pre-registration requirement, which will serve as a de facto tourist visa and pass to access the stadium areas (with an appropriate match ticket).
How can I get there?
Qatar Airways (qatarairways.com) is the obvious option – it offers direct flights to the Qatari capital Doha from Heathrow, Gatwick, Edinburgh and Manchester (non-stop services from Birmingham and Cardiff, suspended during the pandemic, could still return as well). British Airways (ba.com) also flies – from Gatwick.
The Hayya card will also grant access to public transport on match day – a practical thing, even if five of the eight stadiums are located in Doha or Al-Rayyan (a western part of the capital’s conurbation), while Just 40 miles separate the coastal town of Al-Khor, the location of the northernmost arena, from Al-Wakrah, the site of the southernmost arena. England are set to play both Al-Khor and Al-Rayyan during the group stage – and could be joined there by Wales or Scotland, once the qualification process is complete.
What can I take with me?
This is where it gets complicated. Qatar is an Islamic country and there are strict rules on imports, including personal property. Your luggage must not contain alcohol, drugs, pornography, pork products or non-Islamic religious books. When in doubt, err on the side of caution – seemingly innocent objects can get you in trouble. For example, e-cigarettes have been banned in Qatar since 2014. More details at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/qatar.
How to dress for the Qatar World Cup
Something you should wear is conservative clothing – there is an expectation of modesty in dress. Women are advised to cover their shoulders and wear long skirts or trousers in public, including when driving. Avoid bikinis on public beaches (limit them to the confines of a private beach or your hotel pool). Men should avoid bare breasts and shorts in public places.
Will it be a dry tournament?
No. But it will be particularly short on some of the drunken stages that have marked previous World Cups. Alcohol is not banned in Qatar, but access to it is limited – usually to licensed restaurants and bars in hotels. The legal drinking age is 21. Drinking outside these parameters is illegal and can result in penalties of up to 3,000 Qatari riyals (about £660) or six months in jail.
That said, after lobbying from the beer industry, fans will be able to purchase drinks at the game, from kiosks within the stadium grounds (although they cannot get them in the stands or within easy reach). view of the land). Special pop-up ‘beach clubs’ offering alcohol are also planned – but supporters have been warned to drink it in moderation, in a country where public drunkenness is anathema.
Who can I travel with and is the LGBTQ community welcome?
This is where it gets even trickier. Cohabitation outside marriage and sexual relations outside marriage are prohibited in Qatar and can be punishable by imprisonment. Which means that even if you and your other half have been together for 30 years, but never got married, you can’t theoretically share a hotel room.
The same dictate will apply to LBGTQ travellers. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. Asked in 2010 how LBGTQ fans could attend the tournament, then-Fifa president Sepp Blatter laughed that “they should abstain from sexual activity”. [if they want to travel]”. Blatter has since been disgraced, but – in addition to agreeing to rainbow flags being displayed at World Cup matches and fancy words about how “this tournament [will leave] truly transformational social, human, economic and environmental legacies,” by Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of the tournament’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy – Qatar’s legal position is still set in stone.
That said, Fifa recently threatened hotels denying rooms to same-sex couples to cancel their contracts, and said it “trusts that all necessary measures will be in place for LGBTQ supporters, so that they can, like everyone else, feel welcome and safe”. An investigation by Norwegian, Danish and Swedish journalists earlier this month saw three of 69 hotels on FIFA’s official list turn down a booking request from a gay couple. Another 20 issued warnings about public displays of affection, although this advice applies to all couples.
Where can I stay?
If you are wondering how to book a hotel for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, you will need to show proof of your ticket application number and book through the official website Qatar Portal 2022. Here you can choose from hotels, apartments and villas, basic cabins in desert fan parks and even static cruise ships. The country also allows residents to host “friends and family”, if they register.
In terms of hotels, most options are properties of large international chains – expect various Hilton hotels and a lavish Four Seasons outpost on the harbor side. Unfortunately, the majority are unavailable after being bulk-booked by companies. However, some new hotels are still under construction and the rooms have not yet been released.
If you opt for a cabin in a desert fan park, be aware that these are basically converted shipping containers and are not air-conditioned.
Is there anything to see beyond the stadium?
As mentioned, Qatar isn’t a big country (it’s the 164th “biggest” on the planet), but it does offer food, history and culture to those who are happy to seek it out. . Doha is architecturally amazing, linking traditional souks with Jean Nouvel skyscrapers. There are luxury resorts on Qatar’s 350 miles of coastline, but also desert footprints, such as the rock carvings of Al Jassasiya – 874 Neolithic petroglyphs in the northeast (see visitqatar.qa). For half and half fun, Trailfinders (trailfinders.com) offers a 10-night ‘Qatar & Seychelles’ holiday – from £3,275 pp (not including flights).
All travelers must download the Ehteraz track and trace app and present a UK Covid pass or a negative PCR test taken within the last 48 hours, along with proof of full vaccination.