Will the UAE benefit from the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar?

By any metric, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be a global mega-event.

More than one million visitors are expected to attend the global tournament, which will take place later this year from 21 November to 18 December. Of course, arrivals on this scale will translate into significant income, adding as much as $17 billion to Qatar’s economy according to Nasser Al Khater, the competition’s Chief Executive.

In fact, research published by Emirates NBD in January forecast that the event would drive growth throughout the year, with the country’s non-hydrocarbon sectors predicted to expand at a rate of 6%.

Whatever the ultimate figures, it’s clear that the upcoming World Cup will result in significant revenues for Qatar.

Who else will benefit?

At the same time, I’m confident that the tournament will also prove lucrative for the wider region, and – owing to its status as an international hub for travel, tourism, and hospitality – the UAE seems ideally positioned to achieve the greatest economic impact outside of the host nation.

Indeed, entrepreneurial travel outfits across the UAE already seem to be enjoying significant success in cultivating a lucrative niche within the segment of World Cup-related tourism.

Attracting the fans

For instance, Dubai-based project management company Yasa, recently unveiled an exclusive package for those who wish to attend the tournament while using the UAE as a base. In collaboration with private aviation brand Jetex, visitors will stay at five-star hotels in Dubai and travel to Qatar for matches. This bespoke package includes limousine transportation, a private jet and chartered flights between Dubai and Doha. In addition to luxury accommodation.

Encouragingly, travel from the UAE is also within the budget of those who may not stretch to limousines and private jets.

In May of this year, Arabian Business reported on a trend towards increasingly competitive travel fares between Dubai and Doha, as airlines scheduled additional flights to cater to World Cup-related demand. In the same month, Qatar Airways, flydubai, Saudia, Kuwait Airways, and Oman Air announced plans to offer ticket holders special shuttle flights to Doha. Air Arabia has since added its name to this list with the launch of 14 daily shuttle flights between Sharjah and Doha during the tournament. Of course, this will all come as welcome news for anyone who assumed flight prices and scarcity would increase ahead of the mega-event.

Similarly, tour operator Expat Sport – the exclusive UAE sales agent of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Official Hospitality Programme – has developed options to suit a range of budgets, enabling football fans who wish to fly from Dubai to arrange their match tickets, travel, transport and accommodation as part of a single travel package.

Expat Sport’s Football Fans Experience will no doubt be boosted by last month’s announcement that Dubai’s first football-themed hotel will open its doors in November. With daily shuttles in and out of Doha as well as the ability to purchase match tickets as part of the package, NH Dubai The Palm will offer a luxury haven for supporters from around the world throughout the tournament.

Onto a winner

Ultimately, although many fans will, of course, be happy to stay in Qatar for the duration of the competition, I believe that the prospect of combining the World Cup with a UAE vacation will attract a significant number of attendees to the UAE during Q4 2022.

While it may be hard to gauge the exact economic impact of the World Cup, one thing’s for sure: the event will provide a welcome boost for a broad range of travel, tourism, and hospitality brands, not only within the host nation but also across the wider region.