Thousands of UAE football fans snap up Qatar World Cup hospitality packages

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Thousands of football fans in the United Arab Emirates have splashed out on special hospitality packages to the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar allowing them to watch three games during the month-long tournament.

To date, more than 3,000 residents have bought “follow your team” packages that offer supporters deals to watch all three group-stage matches with shuttle flights from the Emirates, said Alan Holt, managing director of Expat Sport in Dubai, the exclusive sales agent of official World Cup hospitality packages.

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“These are three games over two weeks during the group stages,” Holt told Al Arabiya English. “Generally, people take these with our shuttle flights to fly over just for the day rather than staying for the duration in Doha.”

British, Iranian and Lebanese are the top nationalities buying the hospitality packages from the UAE, said Holt.

“For the British and Iranians, they are going to support their national teams. For Lebanese fans, their top teams to follow are Argentina and Portugal, mainly to see the football legends, or Germany, which was a league that has been broadcast on television in Lebanon for years, so has garnered a loyal fan following from there.”

“Follow your team” packages start at $2850 for group stages for three matches.

Dubai resident Monty Guhathakurta, 40, is one football fan who has managed to score three World Cup FIFA tickets.

He will be landing in Doha on November 27. On the day he arrives, he will watch the Spain vs Germany match followed by the Belgium vs Morocco match, shortly after. The next day, he will watch Portugal vs Uruguay.

“I have just received my tickets for the Portugal vs Uruguay match, and I am super excited because that will be held at the iconic Lusail Stadium which has a capacity of 80,000 people and will be where the World Cup final will be held,” the football fan told Al Arabiya English.

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)

Indian-born Guhathakurta, who works in the automobile industry, has played football all his life until multiple injuries forced him to stop playing the sport.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 will be his first ever World Cup.

“I am super excited; my planning for the World Cup began six months ago when the group stages were decided. It was then I selected the dates. My plan was to pick a weekend where I could fly from Dubai to Doha then these charter flights were introduced by FlyDubai.”

“Booking tickets wasn’t an easy process. There are a lot of stages to get to Doha. You need an identification number on your match ticket to get into the country.”

“I got my hospitality tickets from ExpatSports - they cost $950 a ticket.”

“The reason I got the tickets from them was it was near impossible to get tickets from the official FIFA website, when they went on sale there was a waiting period of 12 hours. Then by that time, the matches you wanted to go for had gone.”

“What is nice about this World Cup in Qatar is that football fans can watch two to three matches in the same day as all the stadiums are close by – especially with the shuttle flights from FlyDubai. “

The football fan said, of the three matches, the one he is looking forward to is Portugal versus Uruguay.

“This is because obviously Cristiano Ronaldo will be playing. Now it is nearly the twilight of his career so this is the last time football fans will see him at a major match.”

“I’m really excited, this will be my first World Cup experience and, when you live in Dubai, to go to a World Cup which is next door is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

When it comes to who he hopes will lift the winning trophy, Guhathakurta said: “I always support Brazil because they play flamboyant football, but this time I’m supporting Argentina because of the (Lionel) Messi effect.”

Qatar, the smallest country to have hosted soccer’s global showpiece tournament, is preparing to receive an estimated 1.2 million visitors during the World Cup, which kicks off on November 20.

Thousands of fans are expected to stay in neighboring countries like the UAE and fly into Doha for matches due to limited accommodation in Qatar.

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