DOHA: With 50 days to go until the World Cup kicks off on Nov. 20 in Qatar, workers continue to pour concrete or paint walls day and night to get major hotels and other accommodations ready on time.
Before the arrival of more than a million supporters for the first World Cup organized in the Middle East, hundreds of immigrant workers work inside the Katara Towers.
These twin towers, 211 meters high, forming a kind of arc, are to welcome FIFA VIP guests who will stay, sometimes for thousands of euros a night, in rooms supposed to be available in October.
Beneath the two skyscrapers, mountains of sand line the steps of Lusail’s seafront, near the stadium of the same name which will host the final on December 18.
“Everyone works 24 hours a day,” an engineer involved in the project told AFP. “We will have to wait to find out if everything will be installed in time to satisfy people who pay so much,” he adds on condition of anonymity.
40 kilometers from Lusail, in the almost desert district of Barwa Barahat Al-Janoub, another army of workers struggles under floodlights at night or under a blazing sun during the day.
In this new district, small apartments are built for less wealthy supporters who will still pay nearly 90 euros for a night on a steel bed in a dormitory, located 10 kilometers from the first metro station.
Boats and prefabs
This complex, supposed to be later reused to house thousands of poor immigrant workers who drive the economy of the rich gas state, should welcome more than 7,500 supporters during the World Cup.
“We can’t say for sure that everything will be ready,” said a source working on the project, adding that more than 2,000 rooms still need to be finished.
Qatari World Cup organizers promise that all accommodation will be ready on time, as some fans have already complained about prices and lack of room availability in the tiny emirate of just under three million people .
Other Gulf cities, particularly Dubai, are reporting a World Cup boom fueled by fans reluctant to book accommodation in Qatar, partly also due to the perception, disputed by Doha, of non-respect of the rights of the LGBTQ community and lack of alcohol.
Qatar continues for its part to prepare a range of accommodation to cope with the influx of visitors. So, brightly colored prefabricated cabins, located near the airport, can be rented for around $200 a night for two people.
In the port of Doha, three cruise ships will be able to accommodate up to 13,000 people for 180 to 800 euros per night.
For just over 400 euros a night, some supporters will be accommodated in traditional, but luxurious, beachfront tents in Al-Khor, north of Doha, complete with bathrooms, flat-screen TVs and other luxury amenities. .
$50,000 a night
Some 1,000 Bedouin-style tents have also been erected to allow fans to experience Qatari-style camping without air conditioning.
Some Qatari landlords are trying to take advantage of the World Cup windfall by renting apartments in Doha for around 4,000 euros a night. A two-bedroom chalet is offered on the Booking.com site for nearly $50,000 a night.
While 80% of the 30,000 hotel rooms in Doha are reserved by Fifa itself, the few remaining suites on the market are advertised at more than 5,500 euros per night.
“There are a lot of price negotiations going on,” said a tourism official in Doha.
Official accommodations are subsidized to prevent prices from skyrocketing, Qatar World Cup host Nasser Al-Khater said in a TV interview this week. But the private sector, which also provides housing, has the right to set the price it deems appropriate.”
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