There are no traffic jams on a 10-lane, tree-lined highway outside the Qatari capital. The road seems 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 huge stadium, which seats 80,000 spectators, which will host the World Cup final on December 18.
It only takes another 20 minutes to reach Al Bayt Stadium, which will host one of the two semi-final matches.. Qatar has fulfilled its promise to host an unprecedented World Cup: football 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 look, according to The Economist, less impressive when you take a narrow road after passing through Al Bayt Stadium, at the end of that road is the fan village in Al Khor, which is It promises guests a “luxury and enjoyable stay” with pools and restaurants, but room rates start at 1,512 riyals ($415) per night.
Until late October, the British newspaper says, the site did not appear interesting or luxurious, and was not completed yet, as bulldozers are located, giant cables appear, and the place looks more like a desert camp than a luxury resort.
Heading 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 is designed as a Bedouin tent, while Stadium 974 is a vibrant 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 about $36 billion, will bring fans across Doha (free of charge). Doha’s main airport, already one of the best in the world, was prepared for the tournament, and the old airport was 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 another kind that Qatar has witnessed, 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 workers not getting paid and exorbitant recruitment fees, but even many critics of Qatar admit that hosting 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 anywhere, 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 & Legacy, boasted of dhows that could be converted into “floating apartments”, with Luxurious 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 that offers 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 finished.”
did the work finish?
But the Economist report, published 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 reservation 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 solve the matter using shuttle buses, while there are no restaurants or shops for several miles.
According to the report, officials in Qatar insist they are not over-promising that the work is completed, the complex is ready and much could change by the time the tournament kicks off on November 20, while workers toil around the clock, The Economist points to another fan village located in the free zone. Near the port, work is still going on in full swing.
Fans will only be able to buy alcohol outside stadiums, and this is not uncommon, 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 most important tourist attractions in Doha, almost all tables were occupied on a weekend night, and the same applies to the cafes of the West Bay neighborhood, an area Filled with upscale hotels and restaurants.
All this worries a number of fans and residents, and many Qataris are eagerly awaiting the tournament that was assigned 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 drunk hooligans.
While schools will be closed during the month of the World Cup, parents wonder how they will deal with their children during that period, some plan to spend the month abroad, while others wonder, quietly, if it is worth it.
Qatar says it would have built a lot of this gleaming infrastructure anyway, as part of its national development plan. According to the British newspaper, the wide highways seem much larger than what a country with a population of about 3 million people needs, but the championship that the world awaits every 4 years may make Qatar a first destination for tourism and hosting major events.