World Cup fans are so inconvenienced by the championship’s setting–Doha, Qatar–that they’re taking daily flights into the city to see the games.

Qatar built eight stadiums to host the 64 games of the FIFA World Cup, scattered around the capital city of Doha. They were closely grouped specifically so fans wouldn’t have to travel far between matches (a problem in several recent years, such as 2016 in Japan).

But Doha simply doesn’t have the hospitality for the sheer numbers of soccer fans descending on the area. They set up whole tent cities and acres of shipping container efficiencies for the frugal, but even those were out of many budgets.

A huge number of World Cup fans have found it cheaper to stay in nearby Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Saudi Arabia and take short shuttle flights into Doha to attend games.

“We wanted to stay for five days in Doha. But it was too expensive. We didn’t want those weird fan zones,” said Ana Santos, a Brazilian fan arriving at Doha’s airport on Thursday with her husband. “In Dubai, we found a fancy hotel for not too much money. … The flights are so crowded so we’re not the only ones.”

FlyDubai, from the United Arab Emirates, has scheduled ten times their usual number of flights from Dubai to Doha, and they’re all filling up with World Cup fans.

Another major factor is Qatar’s strict policies on alcohol. While Doha’s few and over-full registered hotels are permitted to sell alcohol to non-Muslims, there is nowhere else to drink in the traditional country. They even banned beer in the stadiums themselves, which they announced last-minute to avoid putting off ticket-buyers.

To capture this brief market, Dubai hotels are offering game packages that include 50-minute flights, a stay, transport, and often unlimited food and alcohol.

Politically, this whole fiasco is very interesting. As recently as 2021, neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia would have allowed such casual flights. Their embargo against Qatar only ended last year.

Photo: An aerial view of Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar, one of the venues for the 2022 FIFA World Cup championship. Credit: Tomacrosse /