Qatar to house World Cup fans in desert camps

Qatar to house World Cup fans in desert camps
Football fans attending the World Cup in Qatar could have to sleep "under the stars" in Bedouin-style desert camps as the tiny nation looks for ways to accommodate supporters.
2 min read
21 March, 2016
Around 500,000 fans expected to descend on the tiny country for the event [Getty]

Qatar may have to house thousands of football fans in desert camps close to stadiums during the 2022 World Cup as falling oil prices have forced the Gulf state to delay building hotels for the tournament.

Qatar will be able to host most of the expected 500,000 fans in hotels and apartments, however, authorities have said that only 46,000 new rooms will be ready. FIFA's requirement was for 60,000 rooms to be available.

Officials have said Bedouin-style tents could be a creative and culturally authentic way for Qatar to meet FIFA requirements.

"It's great weather for camping and it's an option that I could see working really well," director in Oxford Economics' tourism division, David Goodger, told local media.

A spokesperson for Qatar's World Cup Supreme Committee said: "At the heart of this World Cup is a commitment to showcase the hospitality and friendship of the Middle East. As a result, we are actively researching the concept of supporters sleeping under the stars."

Read more: 'Workers' World Cup' kicks off for Qatar's migrant labourers

Desert camping is a common wintertime activity for Qataris. While some people simply pitch a tent in the sand, others prefer more luxurious options, spending time on sites with electricity and catered meals.

      Falling oil prices have forced Qatar to delay projects [Getty]

The Supreme Committee did not say if the camps would serve as the specially created "fanzones" in which conservative Qatar has said fans will be allowed to consume alcohol.

Public drinking of alcohol is banned in Qatar, which also limits the sale of alcohol primarily to luxury hotels, in which tourists and expats may have to fork out between 35QAR and 75QAR ($9.60-$20) for a single glass of beer.

Qatar has said that special courts may be set up to deal with drunk and disorderly fans "very gently".

Qatar is also looking at promoting private letting services such as Airbnb and putting spectators up on cruise ships docked along the coast to meet the high demand.

Some fans have also proposed staying in neighbouring countries, such as the UAE and Bahrain - where hotel rooms and alcohol may be more readily available - and fly in to watch matches.