Fifa World Cup 2022: UAE hotel rates see 20% increase; 100% occupancy expected

Many football fans prefer to stay in Dubai and travel to Qatar to watch the games


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 25 Jul 2022, 5:36 PM

Last updated: Tue 27 Sep 2022, 3:50 PM

UAE hotels and homestays are witnessing a major upswing before the final kick-off of the biggest sporting event in the region. Experts see at least a 20% increase in room rates, and many expect 100% occupancy during the Qatar World Cup. Industry experts expect the football spectacle to boost the hospitality industry in the country.

“The demand for rooms during the World Cup is causing a surge in prices, with a 20 percent increase in room rates, especially during the group stages,” said Varun Ahuja, Director of Sales at Aloft Dubai South. “Being a hotel close to the airport, we have a robust pipeline of individual and group bookings from (match) ticket holders, and we expect demand for accommodation to spike again in August and September”

The 2022 Fifa world cup which is scheduled to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18 is expected to attract millions of spectators from all across the world. The country, with its limited accommodation, had previously announced shuttle services from neighbouring countries to meet the influx of visitors.

Best of both Worlds

Several hotels and homestays are expecting a full or near full occupancy rate during the period of the World Cup.

Saeed Al Zubaidi
Saeed Al Zubaidi

“People are preferring to stay in Dubai and travel to Qatar to watch the games since it is just 30 minutes away by plane,” said Saeed Al Zubaidi, CEO of Like Home by Dar Al Zain Vacation Homes Rental.

“That way they can visit Dubai while attending the World Cup in Qatar. It’s the best of both worlds. Due to that, holiday home prices have gone up making it high season with an occupancy rate expected to reach 100%. We are currently focusing on increasing the properties under our management in order to accommodate as much people as we can.”

Leading airlines in the UAE, including Air Arabia and flydubai have announced shuttle services to Qatar, taking the flights between the two countries up to more than 60 a day. Only those with valid tickets to the matches will be able to take these flights. Flyers will also need a Hayya Card to access the stadium and avail of the free transportation to and from stadiums on the Doha metro.

Last week Fifa revealed that the organizers of Qatar World Cup had sold 1.2 million tickets, with the last batch of tickets currently on sale until 12pm on August 16 on a first-come, first-served basis. Some of the tickets have been earmarked for sponsors and Qatar residents.

Varun Ahuja
Varun Ahuja

“The high demand for rooms in the UAE comes as many ticket holders are considering Dubai as a base from where they will take advantage of the daily shuttle service to Doha that is operating from the Al Maktoum International Airport,” said Ahuja.

Philippe d’Amat
Philippe d’Amat

“We envision that we will be operating at nearly full occupancy around the world cup period and there will be a huge mix of both families and bachelor groups,” said Philippe d’Amat, General Manager of Al Habtoor Polo Resort Dubai. “So far we have seen more bachelor group bookings for this period and our suites are very popular as they come with their own private pool and provide a private escape for our guests”

Unique experiences

Sports tourism agency Expat Sports, which has just begun offering a one of its kind packages to football fans, including daily flights to Qatar and free shuttle buses to Dubai fan zones among other perks, has seen a tremendous response in terms of demand and bookings.

Sue Holt
Sue Holt

“The package went on sale to our global sports tourism network late last week and we have already secured a 150-member booking from the UK,” said Sue Holt, Executive Director of Expat Sports. “It is the first hotel experience of its kind curated for football fans, so this was a welcome addition to the Dubai hospitality landscape.”

The experience will see the soon-to-be-opened NH Dubai The Palm, located on the West Bay side of the Palm Jumeirah, converted into a hotspot for football fans and those staying here will receive tickets and discounts to Dubai based fan zones and enjoy sports challenges and competitions during their stay.

Many visitors are opting to make the most of their stay in Dubai during the period, with demand for add-ons to hotel packages going up.

“While some clients prefer the standard packages, we also have several opting for customized packages with additional services that include catering, pick and drop, sight-seeing, butler services and more,” said Saeed Al Zubaidi.

“Ticket holders are looking for affordability, comfort and convenience,” said Ahuja. “We are seeing bookings for standard packages with breakfast and the addition of lunch or dinner, including added benefits like shuttle bus service to the airport.”


Loyal football fans

The highest demand for bookings has come from countries which have a long history with football, and many are opting for large group bookings.

“Some of the nationalities currently inquiring and booking with us are from USA, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and India. Looks like these are the most dedicated fanbases,” said Saeed Al Zubaidi. “The largest group booking with us so far is a group of 10 people.”

Others in the industry have reported similar trends.

“The hotel has confirmed bookings from individuals and fan groups, mainly coming from Latin America, the UK and Germany,” said Ahuja. “We have two groups with 15 and 20 rooms booked respectively to stay at our hotel during the group stages.”

“The initial interest has been strong from the South American countries including Argentina & Brazil,” said Sue Holt. “And we are seeing a majority of groups of friends booking our experience.”

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