The First World Cup in the Middle East
Not only is the upcoming World Cup going to be the first hosted in the Middle East, but it will also qualify as the second time an Asian country has hosted the tournament (the first being cohosted by Japan and South Korea in 2002).
Not only does this highlight part of FIFA’s goals, to unify the world’s nations through a competition, but it also puts a spotlight on the region. Nearby, the UAE has turned Dubai into one of the world’s most exclusive tourist destinations – but that doesn’t mean much is known about Qatar.
Since 2014, the nation has been updating existing sporting facilities and creating new stadiums that will mitigate the desert heat for players. The country has also undertaken eco-friendly construction practices to lessen the environmental footprint of preparations and hosting responsibilities.
The capital city, Doha, is home to some 2.5 million people and will provide a majority of the country’s accommodations. However, games will also be hosted in Dakhira, Al Wakrah, Al Daayen, and Al Rayyan. In total, there will be eight stadiums prepared to host teams and thousands of spectators.
More Than Soccer on the Docket
Though there will be eight stadiums in five cities hosting FIFA World Cup games, those traveling to Qatar won’t be hamstrung to choose which matches to see. From its longest diameter, the country takes only two hours to traverse.
For this reason, travelers heading to the Middle Eastern country are in luck. Unlike the Russian or Brazilian tournaments of 2018 and 2014, the competition won’t be spread across large stretches.
Even better, there are already World Cup packages available that take the headache out of planning.
Those on a budget aren’t out of luck, either. There’s plenty to do for those who are only able to attend one game on a limited schedule.
Qatar has a central location in the Middle East, which means it has culinary and cultural influences from all around the region. There are also plenty of excursions available, including resort trips, beaches, water sports, and even historical sites (including a UNESCO World Heritage Site at Al Zubarah).