Dubai match-ready for Fifa World Cup: Beaches, office canteens, region's largest cinema screen all set for live action

Non-football fans excited about the games, too, as buzz reaches peak in the UAE


Sahim Salim


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 19 Nov 2022, 2:49 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Nov 2022, 8:48 AM

Dubai may be some 650km away from Doha, but the city is buzzing with the energy of Fifa World Cup fans and all things football.

From screening the matches live on the largest cinema screen in the Mena region to giant posters of football greats coming up at fan zones, it’s kickoff time for the thousands of fans who have flocked to the emirate for its legendary tourism experience.

The excitement is not limited to diehard football fans. Dubai resident Zafar Mahmoud does not usually follow football, but his employer is screening the matches live in his office’s canteens.

“This is a classic case of mixing pleasure with business! Who says you can’t have it all? This is Dubai, after all,” said Zafar.

Dubai: An open-air stadium

Massive 330-square-metre screens equipped with 4D audio have come up at BudX Fifa Fan Festival at Dubai Harbour — one of only six international flagship festivals in the world. Overlooking the Ain Dubai and the stunning Dubai skyline, the venue can host thousands of fans.


Abdulla Binhabtoor, chief portfolio management officer, Shamal Holding — the owner and curator of Dubai Harbour — told Khaleej Times: “We at Dubai Harbour are excited to welcome all the action, being the official venue for one of the six International Fifa Fan Festivals globally and the only BudX Fifa Fan Festival in the city. Fans can expect an unrivalled multifaceted seafront viewing and entertainment experience, rekindling the city’s connection with the sea.


“We look forward to welcoming more than 10,000 football lovers each day from around the world to enjoy their favourite game at our extraordinary iconic district.”

The Middle East’s biggest screen at Dubai Hills Mall — Roxy Cinemas — has completed all preparations to screen matches live. Measuring 423 square metres, the Roxy Xtreme screen is large enough to fit 154 football teams.

Murray Rea, director of operations, Roxy Cinemas, said: “Football fans can cheer their favourite teams with an exceptional match-ready viewing experience, featuring crystal clear quality on the big screen and heart-pounding audio in DOLBY Atmos. With live Arabic and English commentary, premium fully reclining seats, gourmet food and beverage, as well as a range of experiences to suit different audiences, guests will be able to share the passion and emotion of the World Cup in comfort at all our cinemas.”

Reel and Vox Cinemas will also screening the matches live.

The city’s hotels and airports are working in tandem with its fan zones and sports lounges to welcome sports enthusiasts. Zero Gravity has set up a dedicated fan zone at the beach.

Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf, Dubai, is screening the matches on its rooftop.

Raj Devas, director of sales and marketing, said: “We converted our rooftop pool lounge, Aqua Chill, into a fan zone which can seat up to 90 guests, placing AstroTurf around the venue to provide a stadium-inspired experience as fans watch the matches displayed on a large screen.’


Abdel Azeez, a long-time Dubai resident, said there are hundreds of places and venues to watch the World Cup.

"My family and friends are planning to watch most of the matches in public spaces like Expo City, DIFC, beaches etc. We will be supporting Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” said Azeez.

Marco Frachetti, an Italian expat, is quite disheartened that his country will not be playing at the biggest sporting event. “As Italy is not playing in the Fifa World Cup this year, I have decided to watch the matches at home,” said Fraschetti.

However, he and his friends will be making most of the games. “We will be supporting Saudi Arabia and Argentina in this World Cup. I have a soft corner for both the teams as Saudi is a place I continuously travel for work purpose,” added Frachetti.


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