Football fans in UAE, Saudi gear up for FIFA World Cup 2022

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In less than two months, Qatar will see an influx of more than a million international football fans as it hosts the FIFA World Cup 2022 - and the world’s greatest football tournament promises boom time for spending habits in the GCC region, according to a new survey.

Data from a YouGov study has revealed that, of those who have shown interest in the month-long event, seven in ten fans in UAE plan to watch the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at home, either alone or with friends (69 percent).

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One in eight (17 percent) intend to watch it out of home (in a bar or restaurant) or at dedicated fan zones. A quarter however, plan on going one step further and have either already or plan to purchase a ticket to watch the World Cup live (26 percent).

General view inside the Lusail Stadium, the venue for the 2022 Qatar World Cup Final. (File Photo: Reuters)
General view inside the Lusail Stadium, the venue for the 2022 Qatar World Cup Final. (File Photo: Reuters)

Similar trends were seen in Saudi Arabia.

Although the majority plan to watch the World Cup at home, FIFA World Cup fans in the Kingdom are more likely than those in UAE to say they will purchase a ticket and watch the World Cup live, with a third (33 percent) of people polled saying they plan to but a ticket.

When it comes to their opinion about the team most likely to win this World Cup, UAE fans think Brazil will be victorious (at 19 percent), with Argentina seen as the second most likely to win (15 percent).

In Saudi Arabia, similarly, 19 percent are backing Brazil, however fans are bullish about their home team's chances with three in ten (31 percent) selecting Saudi Arabia as the most likely winner.

Although the World Cup is being hosted in Qatar, there is likely to be a ripple effect across the rest of the region, with 63 percent of fans expecting their spending to increase during this time.

When asked about the likely impact of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, seven in ten fans in UAE and the Kingdom envision a positive impact on the local economy, as well as understanding of the region and local cultures, with UAE fans feeling this more strongly than Saudi fans.

Brands can benefit from the positive sentiment around the event by understanding the different audience profiles intending to watch the World Cup either at home or out of home.

Data shows fans planning to watch the World Cup (both at home & out of home) are young individuals, with the largest proportion belonging to the 35-44 years age group.

They are married, currently residing in Dubai, with those planning to watch the event out-of-home more likely to be males than those watching it at-home (73 percent vs 60 percent.)

Many are already planning to increase their at-home spending on fast food during the football tournament.

Data on their brand usage reveals consumers within both the groups are likely to consider buying from fast-food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks.

The FIFA World Cup is expected to attract fans from 31 other nations to the country. Football fans have so far snapped up 2.45 million tickets to November’s World Cup in Doha, FIFA reported last month, which plans to make three million spots available in total.

In a bid to attract soccer fans, Qatar's neighbors including the UAE and Saudi Arabia will offer entry visas to World Cup ticketholders.

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