Fifa World Cup: Apartments rents, villa prices soar as property owners in Qatar eye to cash in on football fever

Most fans will be staying in hotels, apartments, cruise ships and desert camps booked through official portals

By AFP

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Published: Mon 17 Oct 2022, 10:53 AM

Landlords in Qatar eyeing to profit from the looming Fifa World Cup have been asking a growing number of tenants to vacate the property, sometimes with just a few days' notice.

More than one million football fans are expected to descend on the capital Doha during the November-December tournament, putting a strain on the country's real estate sector.

Due to the influx of fans into the country, landlords have spotted an opening to hike rents exponentially, said a representative of a real estate company.

Reem, an expat working for a major Qatari company, was told she had a week to leave her apartment.

The woman, using a pseudonym, told AFP the owner of the block wanted the dozens of apartments that he had rented to her employers vacated so that he could earn more during the World Cup.

The company has moved Reem and other employees into a hotel, but they can only stay there until November 15, five days before the tournament kicks off.

Other tenants in Doha told AFP they were similarly asked to choose between paying more on rent or leaving.

Properties in the tower where Reem used to live are advertised online for $1,700 a night during the World Cup, with a minimum stay of 14 nights. In the two years that she had been in the apartment, she said that the rent used to be $2,500 a month.

Most fans will be staying in hotels, apartments, cruise ships and desert camps booked through the official World Cup portal.

Despite some concerns, organisers have insisted there will be enough accommodation for all fans, in a country of just 2.8 million people.

To ease the crunch, Fifa recently released thousands of hotel rooms it had reserved, which experts have said could push prices down in the coming weeks.

Some World Cup visitors are turning to the open market for luxury apartments or better locations near specific stadiums, and the prices advertised for some Doha properties highlight owners' sky-high hopes.

A villa for the full 29 days of the World Cup will cost fans booking through online platforms at least $13,000 — but prices can go much higher.

Some Doha residents are putting their flats and houses up for rent and leaving Qatar for the month.

Adel, who listed his small apartment online for $900 a night, said that "demand was very high" when he first advertised it. However, he had to cancel the reservations after the portal asked him to provide a statement from his landlord approving the sublet.

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Rents have also risen sharply for tenants coming to the end of their leases in recent months.

While Qatari law allows for an increase of up to 10 per cent for a lease renewal, rents in some districts of Doha have risen by as much as 40 per cent over the past year, according to Anum Hassan, head of research in Qatar at international consultancy firm Valustrat.

A Western diplomat in Doha said embassy staff have demanded increased salaries to meet their rent payments.

"Rents ... will stay high for a while," said Nabil Ghorra, a 59-year-old Lebanese-American who lives in Doha's upscale Pearl district.

"I feel that there are people taking advantage of the situation, but this happens all over the world when there's an event [like the World Cup]."


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