I got a call yesterday from a friend who is a well-traveled contract EP professional in Southern Florida. He panicked because he had accepted a contract position on a travel team supporting a company CEO attending the World Cup in Doha, Qatar. Yet, he didn’t know much about traveling there.
I understand his panic, as I found out recently from my client we were attending as well with our client and began to delve into what I would need to go to the World Cup in Doha. So here is what I learned from traveling to Doha to conduct our initial advance.
If you don’t have a ticket or an order number, you’re not getting a hotel room or going into the country. The Qatari government locked out all hotel rooms and put the following stipulations on getting one. First, you must have a verifiable ticket or ticket order number to reserve a space.
You’ll need that ticket number to get your Hayya card and the Hayya card to get your visa.
Qatar isn’t quarantining anyone not vaccinated. However, both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests need to have proof of a negative COVID test within 48 hours of their flight to Doha. Once you get into Qatar, you’ll need to download the Ehteraz COVID tracking app to your phone.
Based on the information you gave the Qatari immigration while entering or if you did the online preauthorization (highly recommend), it should turn to a green QR code showing you’re clear. You will be asked for this QR code everywhere you go to get into malls, restaurants, hotels, and events. In addition, the US State Department has a World Cup link on the OSAC online portal with many good links and information.
Transportation: World Cup in Doha
We were fortunate to locate several vetted local security drivers at a reasonable cost. At this point in the timeline, there are no rental vehicles to be had. In fact, companies that have the capacity to still provide services are costing ten times the normal rates.
The other issues are the Qatari government will be instituting traffic control measures, special lane restrictions, and odd/even license plate days to throttle traffic levels. So, you’ll either need to take public transportation or have one vehicle with an odd number plate and the other with an even number plate. Public transport will be free but overwhelmed.
The football stadiums we traveled to examine the locations are mostly local team stadiums or built for the event. Traffic lanes and access routes were not improved to handle the number of fans descending on the venues. There will be VIP/VVIP traffic lanes and drop-off points at each stadium we saw.
Medical infrastructure will be very stressed in a mass casualty event and has been enhanced to accommodate the surge in tourism. You will receive medical treatment at no cost if you have a Hayya card. They have several major hospitals and clinics designated for medical treatment; we found only one level 1 trauma center.
The Qatari government is bringing in troops from Pakistan and Turkey to help secure the events. They are also mobilizing their military reserve forces to add workforce to man security and logistical areas. They will all wear a common police uniform. Unfortunately, all these people will not be able to be adequately trained to deal with the thousands of drunken and unruly football fans that the Qataris have never dealt with. It’s currently illegal to be publicly intoxicated there.
FIFA will set up Fan Zones where alcohol will be sold in some sort of controlled quantities, and so will the stadiums. However, hotels will have no such controls over how much alcohol fans drink before they go to the games. Fan zones are adjacent to several major soccer venues and are designed to accommodate up to 40,000 people. What could go wrong?
The country of Qatar is hustling to finish a lot of infrastructure projects and accommodations that were still unfinished when we visited at the end of September. The country is trying to be ready. But I doubt it will even be close to accommodating 1.2 million tourists descending on the city. So bring your patience and plan for anything that can go wrong.
See you at the World Cup in Doha!