Creating new perspectives since 2009

Flight bookings to Qatar boom for World Cup, especially from Dubai

October 11, 2022 at 3:17 pm

A general view of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup on June 14, 2022 in Doha, Qatar [Matthew Ashton/AMA/Getty Images]

Flight bookings to Qatar are booming for the soccer World Cup being held in November and December, with particularly strong demand from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as fans work round a shortage of accommodation in Doha, a study showed on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Flight bookings to Qatar from the UAE and nine other countries have risen ten-fold compared with before the pandemic, travel analysis group, ForwardKeys, said.

From the UAE, they have rocketed 103 times, compared with 2016 – the last year before the UAE joined other Arab countries in a boycott of Qatar that halted direct flights. The boycott ended in early 2021.

“The UAE’s strong showing is explained by a shortage of accommodation in Qatar,” ForwardKeys said, adding many fans were expected to stay in Dubai.

READ: Pakistan army contingent leaves for Qatar to provide World Cup security

The strong demand comes despite the requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test to enter Qatar.

Air travel across the Gulf is set to benefit, with flight bookings to the region 16 per cent ahead of 2019, and for the early stages of the World Cup 61 per cent ahead, ForwardKeys said.

Fans will also travel to other destinations in the region, with the number of visitors spending at least two nights in Qatar, then at least two in another Gulf country, rising sixteen times compared with before the pandemic.

US tourists make up 26 per cent of such visitors, with Canadians second at 10 per cent and Britons third, at 9 per cent.

“Dubai is the biggest beneficiary of this trend, by far, capturing 65 per cent of onward visits,” ForwardKeys said.

Qatar Tourism reported 31,123 hotel rooms in the country at the end of the first quarter.

FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, has booked 80 per cent of available rooms for players, guests and officials during the tournament, Qatar’s World Cup organisers said. FIFA is expected to release rooms it will not need into the market over the next few weeks.

Dubai has 115,000 hotel rooms and 25,000 rental apartments, travel data firm OAG said last week.

Qatar Airways and Flydubai, working together, will operate some 54 flights a day between Dubai and Qatar, versus just six scheduled previously, OAG said.

READ: Qatar population surges 13.2% in year leading up to World Cup