EXPLAINER: Traveling to Qatar during the FIFA World Cup

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Some 1.2 million people are expected to flock to Qatar for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup which begins this month.

With fans coming from all over the world, reaching Qatar on the Arabian Peninsula, as well as getting around once there, remains a concern. Estimates suggest that up to half a million people could be in the country every day at the height of the competition.

However, fans have several transportation options to choose from before the tournament.

Here’s an overview of how to get there, where to go and how to get around.

FLY TO QATAR

Qatar has become a hub for East-West travel, thanks to its long-haul carrier Qatar Airways. Already, the airline is offering tailored flight, hotel and ticket options to its customers. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is preparing for its low-cost carrier FlyDubai to make up to 30 trips a day to Doha for spectators to watch a game and then return to hotels in the emirate. Those who will land at Hamad International Airport in Doha, a huge airport that Qatar built for $15 billion and opened in 2014. The airport plans to expand further in 2022 to handle 58 million passengers a year. Passengers will pass through immigration and customs checks before heading into the city. Note that during the tournament, Qatar will not issue normal visas and those coming for matches must have a Qatar-issued Hayya card. The card verifies that you have accommodation for the duration of your stay in the country or that you will be traveling just for the match you are watching. The Hayya card is also required to enter stadiums. Also keep in mind that Qatar only has one land border, with Saudi Arabia, if you plan to drive.

CORONAVIRUS CONSIDERATIONS

Qatar has had strict travel and coronavirus rules since the start of the pandemic, but they were relaxed from November 1. Qatar has dropped the requirement for a PCR test before you travel to the country, and said it is no longer necessary to download its Ehteraz contact tracing app.

HOW TO GET AROUND QATAR

Leaving the airport, you have several options for getting around. The Mowasalat transport company, owned by the State of Qatar, offers curbside taxis. Major ride-sharing apps like Uber also work in Qatar. Mowasalat also offers a bus service at the airport. Doha also has a newly built metro service, which will take you from the airport to most parts of the capital. The metro is also connected to a tram which now runs in Lusail. You can rent a car at the airport, although officials are urging those coming to the tournament to take public transport. On match day, public transport will be free for ticket holders. Keep in mind that the Qatar riyal currency trades between $1 and 3.64 riyals. There are 100 dirhams in each riyal.

WHAT TO SEE IN QATAR

Outside of the tournament, Doha has several cultural sites to visit. The Qatar Museum of Islamic Art offers both interesting views inside its galleries and an outdoor view of the city skyline. Nearby is Doha’s Souq Waqif, which has traditional window displays and gifts for sale, even including a falcon section. The National Museum of Qatar, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, is an interpretation of the desert rose. The National Library of Qatar is also renowned for its design. The Mall of Qatar in Doha has some 500,000 square meters (5.3 million square feet) for shopping. There are also beach resorts and tour operators also offer trips to the desert expanses of Qatar.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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