There are no traffic jams on a 10-lane, tree-lined highway outside the Qatari capital. The road looks wide and ready to accommodate all the cars on the Gulf Peninsula, and as the cars move north through it, they pass the Lusail Stadium, the gigantic 80,000-seater stadium that hosts the World Cup final on December 18 will present. .
It only takes another 20 minutes to reach the Al Bayt Stadium, which will host one of the two semi-finals. Qatar has fulfilled its promise to host an unprecedented World Cup: soccer fans should have no problem attending more than one match a day. .
But the wealthy Gulf state’s efforts over more than 10 years to host the world’s most famous sporting event seem less impressive, according to The Economist, when you take a narrow road after driving through Al Bayt Stadium, at the end of that road is the fan village in Al Khor, which promises guests a “luxurious and pleasant stay” with swimming pools and restaurants, but room rates start at 1,512 riyals ($415) per night.
Until the end of October, says the British paper, the site did not look interesting or luxurious, and was not yet complete, as bulldozers are located, giant cables appear and the place looks more like a desert camp than a luxury resort .
On the way to the creek looks like a microcosm of Qatar’s preparations for the World Cup. First comes the good news: the expensive infrastructure is ready, all eight creatively designed stadiums have been completed. Al Bayt Stadium was designed as a Bedouin tent, while Stadium 974 is a living structure, made from recycled shipping containers (the number is the international dialing code for Qatar).
In addition to the stadiums, many new roads have been built, and a new metro line, costing around $36 billion, will bring fans across Doha (for free). Doha’s main airport, already one of the best in the world, has been prepared for the tournament, and the old airport has been reopened to cope with an increase in aircraft numbers.
According to estimates reported by “The Economist”, the cost of all this approached 300 billion dollars.
On the other hand, there are changes of a different nature that Qatar has seen, such as the reforms made to the sponsorship system for migrant workers.
The International Labor Organization estimates that the new minimum wage has given 400,000 workers an increase in income, but other problems persist, such as unpaid workers and exorbitant recruitment fees, but even many critics of Qatar admit that presenting the World Cup forced it to make real reforms..
So far, things are looking very good, but incoming fans need places to sleep, and Qatar has sold nearly two million hotel nights in everything from five-star hotels to tent villages.
Earlier in October, it added another 30,000 rooms (or nearly a million nights) for last-minute bookings, and Omar Al Jaber, Executive Director of Housing at the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, boasted of dhows that could convert become “floating” apartments”, with luxury beds and hot tubs on the upper deck.
But there are only 30 dhows, the largest of which can seat 10 people, and more fans will end up in places like Barwa Barahat Al Janoub, a large apartment complex offering rooms for 300 riyals a night, which Al Jaber says will accommodate 10,000. guests as “the Heavy construction work.. they are installing some beds.. and testing the water (..) but we can say that 99% (of the work) is done.”
is the work done
But the Economist report, published on Wednesday November 2, 18 days before the start of the tournament, indicates that some roads leading to the apartment complex are still unpaved. While the booking website describes it as “inspired by traditional Arab houses built around courtyards”, it neglects to mention that the site is ten kilometers (six miles) from the nearest metro station, but officials promise to address the issue with shuttle buses. to leave, while there are no restaurants or shops for several kilometers.
According to the report, officials in Qatar are not over-promising that the work is complete, the complex is ready and that much could change by the time the tournament kicks off on November 20, as workers toil throughout the day. points The Economist to another fan village located in the free zone. Near the port there is still full steam ahead.
Fans will only be able to buy alcohol outside stadiums, and this is not unusual as many European countries have similar rules.
But finding a place to eat may require a certain amount of patience. In the restaurants in Souq Waqif, a traditional market considered one of the main tourist attractions in Doha, almost all tables were occupied on a weekend night. , and the same applies to the cafes of the West Bay area, an area filled with luxury hotels and restaurants.
All this worries a number of fans and residents, and many Qataris are eagerly awaiting the tournament that was dedicated to Qatar to organize in December 2010, but others fear, for example, that the traffic will become unbearable, or that restaurants will overflow, and the streets will be filled with drunken hooligans.
While schools will be closed during the month of the World Cup, parents are wondering how they will cope with their children during that period, some planning to spend the month abroad, while others are quietly wondering if it is worth it.
Qatar says it would have built much of this shiny infrastructure anyway, as part of its national development plan. According to the British newspaper, the wide highways seem much bigger than what a country with a population of about 3 million people needs, but the championship that awaits the world every 4 years can make Qatar a first destination for tourism and big events offer.