Qatar Offers Housing Accommodations Amid World Cup Safety Concerns


Qatar is unveiling its housing accommodations for fans with just over a week remaining until the kickoff of the 2022 World Cup. 

On Wednesday, event organizers reported that more than 90,000 accommodations had been reserved in Qatar, adding that they still had availability for up to 25,000 more reservations. These accommodations include everything from apartments, fan villages, hotels and even cruise ships. 

Nearly 60,000 of these fans are expected to stay in aluminum portable cabins sprawled through  fan villages. Starting at $200 a night, these cabins — which are better described as luxury storage containers — include either two single beds or a double bed, toilet, mini-fridge and amenities for tea and coffee. 

The village will also include restaurants and large outdoor screens airing all the games. 

Fans looking for a more affordable option can stay farther out of the city center, near the Doha and Hamad International Airports, for $80 a night. Journalists visiting the site on Wednesday reported the continual presence of planes. 

Housing logistics are just one of the many concerns surrounding this World Cup since Qatar won the bid 12 years ago. 

Over a million people are expected to descend upon the small peninsular country that is currently home to 3 million people. At 4,469 square miles, it is smaller than every U.S. state except Delaware and Rhode Island. 

Event organizers are putting their creativity to the test as they turn to camp sites, cruise ships, a man-made island and even enlist the help of neighboring countries. 

Nearby Dubai is expected to carry the majority of the burden of housing foreign visitors. Fans who choose to stay in the United Arab Emirates will then take one of 500 daily shuttle flights between the two countries chartered for this month-long event.

Another logistical concern of this World Cup is Qatar’s desert climate, known for extreme heat, humidity and the occasional sandstorm. Organizers already moved the event from the summer to November in an effort to fight off the potentially dangerous summer temperatures. 

Omar Al-Jaber, the executive in charge of accommodations, also assured visitors that in the event inclement weather — like sandstorms or rain – make tents or villages uninhabitable, they are prepared with “backups room in a different area.” 

In addition to the logistical gymnastics required of hosting such a large international event, Qatar is currently navigating how to reconcile their country’s laws on many social issues with the influx of foreigners at an event known for raucous, frequently drunk fans.  

Under the country’s Sharia laws, alcohol sales are restricted to specific times and spaces, such as restaurants and hotels. Fan villages are not included in this designation.

Other criminalized actions include drugs and swearing. 

While Qatari officials claim to be turning a blind eye to some traditionally-banned activities — such as cohabitation between men and women — there remains significant concerns over the safety of some foreigners, particularly in regards to the country’s position on homosexuality. 

They have maintained that LGBTQ fans and players are welcome at this year’s World Cup, so long as they respect Qatari laws. However, just this past Monday, Khalid Salman, a FIFA World Cup ambassador and former Qatari soccer player, said homosexuality is a “damage in the mind” in an interview with a German broadcaster. According to CNN, the interview was immediately stopped by an official from the World Cup organizing committee. 

The prevailing message from officials to visitors has been to tread lightly when discussing political and religious matters, with specific warnings about criticism of the government or royal family.

In the 12 years since Qatar won the bid, this World Cup has been considered one of the most complicated and controversial undertakings in sports. Fans around the world will have a chance to see how it comes together next Sunday when the host country takes on Ecuador in the first match of the tournament on Nov. 20.

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