Dubai Welcomes The World Cup

With luxury experiences and convenient travel requirements, the Emirate is all set to benefit significantly from Qatar’s landmark event.

Lusail Stadium, the elite setting for the final

Lusail Stadium, the elite setting for the final. Courtesy

It’s finally here. 12 years after its initial announcement, the Middle East’s first FIFA World Cup is finally here. Amidst the team previews, tactical breakdowns and local condition analyses, what is certain is that Qatar is destined to leave an indelible mark on the luxuriant tapestry that is the World Cup.

The entire region stands to benefit and Dubai is no exception. Dubai-Doha air bookings have jumped 133%, while the U.A.E. as a whole has enjoyed a 700% increase in air bookings (Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait follow). With tickets selling out by the minute, other popular routes are expecting even further demand.

The city’s central location is part of the reason. A Middle Eastern World Cup automatically means diehard fans from India and China to Europe and Africa are just a jaunt away. Dubai itself is removed from the epicentre of the World’s Cup’s bustle but only an hour away by flight, so fans can revel in Qatar’s World Cup throngs and return to their luxurious residential bases within a day.

These convenient travel circumstances are buttressed by convenient travel policies. Daily match-day flights between Dubai and Doha greatly increase ease of travel for those wanting to experience not only the world’s finest football, but also the world’s finest hospitality.

And in a gracious show of support to the tournament and its fans, Dubai is issuing 90-day, multiple entry visas to holders of Qatar’s Hayya Card. The card, mandatory for fans in Qatar, now also makes them eligible to enter and leave Dubai several times during the period of validity – a monumental fillip to the region’s tourism sector.

Tourism is one of Dubai’s most recognisable calling cards. World-Cup related offerings on the market range from elite urban penthouses to luxurious beachfront mansions. Relatedly, the city’s first luxury, football-themed hotel, the NH Dubai, offers residents a quintessential Dubai experience. Lapped by the waves on the Palm Jumeirah, the 533-room property boasts direct beach access, a rooftop infinity pool and an exclusive fan zone.

Dubai’s fan zones will provide joyous football experiences unique to Dubai. Courtesy

Dubai’s fan zones will provide joyous football experiences unique to Dubai. Courtesy

And it is the fan zones that will offer perhaps the most memorable experiences, spread out across luxury destinations throughout the city from DIFC and Dubai Marina to Palm Jumeirah and the World Trade Centre. This hints at the slew of attractions and activities that visitors can enjoy, from soothing beaches and acclaimed museums to world-class gastronomy and global landmarks like the Burj Khalifa.

Much is always written about a FIFA World Cup, but quite especially this one. What is evident, however, is the enormous scale of impact on the tourism, real estate and hospitality industries. And what is never going to be quantifiable, but will definitely occupy the forefront of fan consciousness, is the culture of Dubai, Qatar and the wider Middle East. It is the power of cross-culturalism; it is the power of cross-sector collaboration; it is the beautiful game.