Qatar isn’t the only country getting a giant boom in tourism thanks to its hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
The neighbouring United Arab Emirates is also set to benefit, with Dubai expected to see an estimated 1 million additional visitors during the course of the soccer tournament, according to the Dubai 6 Sports Council.
Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, in August called Dubai “the major gateway” to the World Cup and predicted it would see more tourists than Qatar itself.
And the city is pulling out all the stops, leveraging its reputation as a hyper-modern city more liberal and built-out than Qatar and advertising the extravagant tourist attractions it’s developed a reputation for.
Dubai is known for over-the-top and outlandish experiences — like its indoor ski slope complex in the desert, to the world’s tallest building and largest Ferris wheel.
With superyacht rentals, private jets and a soccer-themed hotel – Dubai is ready for the party.
It’s now added specific World Cup-themed experiences, simultaneously taking advantage of the fact that Qatar, a tiny country of 3 million people, is struggling to accommodate all its expected tourists and many of them will opt to lodge in Dubai for the matches instead.
This has been made possible by “match day air shuttles” being operated by Qatar Airlines and Dubai-based low-cost carrier FlyDubai– allowing travelers to book same-day round-trip flights from Dubai or nearby Oman to attend a match in Qatar and return in less than 24 hours.
“Only an hour away from Qatar by flight, Dubai is a familiar destination for global travelers,” Taufiq Rahim, a research fellow at the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, told CNBC. “Its tourism infrastructure and straightforward 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 tournament accommodation “bolstered by cruise ships, camping facilities, apartments and villas.”
Dubai, meanwhile, as a city has more than 140,000 hotel rooms, according to hotel data firm STR.
Around the UAE’s different emirates, 43 fan zones for watching matches have been set up, with some of the biggest – like Budweiser’s official BudX fan zone in Dubai Harbor – big enough to host 10,000 fans daily with matches aired on enormous 3,552 square-foot screens.
There’s even a soccer-themed hotel on Dubai’s man-made Palm archipelago, where the most dedicated fans can stay while being shuttled in and out of Doha for daily matches.
A $20,000 per night match viewing experience
Dubai’s revenue won’t just be coming from hotel stays and restaurants. Visitors to the emirate can rent superyachts running in the tens of thousands of dollars per night to watch matches while sailing through the Persian Gulf.
Xclusive Yachts, the UAE’s largest private charter yacht company, offers its most opulent seaborne experience at $20,000 per night on a trip-deck super yacht complete with a skydeck, onboard bar, skylounge, five cabins and a Michelin-starred chef serving gourmet meals.
“We are expecting a more than 300% [rise] in yacht bookings in November and December mainly due to visitors for the World Cup and Qatar who are also looking for leisure activities in Dubai,” Managing Director Amit Patel told Doha News in October.
Flight traffic is also shooting up — Dubai Airports in mid-November announced that a whopping 120 shuttle flights will fly in and out of the Dubai World Central airport each day between the tournament’s start and end dates of Nov. 20 and Dec. 18.
CEO of Flydubai, Ghaith Al Ghaith, said that nearly all of the airline’s match-day shuttle flights to Doha were at full capacity.
“This is a pattern that looks set to continue over the next couple of days and weeks,” Al Ghaith said.
Flydubai and Qatar Airways will be jointly running the match day shuttle flights between DWC and Doha. With the addition of flights from Dubai’s main airport, Dubai International (DXB), travelers can catch a flight every 30 to 50 minutes.
Private jet demand booms
Private jet charter companies have also seen a boom in business, with some fans willing to pay eye-watering sums to get to matches.
“We certainly see a great increase in traffic between Dubai and Doha over the coming month,” Oleg Kafarov, portfolio development and communications director at Dubai-based private charter jet company Jetex, told CNBC.
Prices for some private jet service packages run for 29,000 dirhams ($7,895) a seat. The flight time between Dubai and Doha is roughly an hour.
Like everything in Dubai, there’s a luxury option if you have the cash to spend. And given its reputation, we wouldn’t expect anything less as neighbours to the World Cup host.
So whether you’re partying on the ground, or taking to the skies for a taste of the live action in Qatar, it seems there’s no escaping World Cup fever and Dubai is ever-ready to get you in the spirit of the world sporting celebrations.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of overwrite.ai and its owners.
Natasha Turak writes for CNBC.
This story has been published from an article on 24th November 2022. The headline and imagery has been changed.
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