Navigating the Impact of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Relocation
As spectators look forward to this year’s World Cup games, organizations focus on minimizing the impact this event will have on their regional mobility programs.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup™, will be the 22nd edition of the quadrennial football competition and the first ever played in the Middle East. It is scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar from November 20 to December 18, 2022. This highly anticipated international football (“soccer” in the U.S.) competition is contested by the men’s national team members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which is the sport’s governing body. This year’s World Cup promises to be action-packed with more than 1.2m spectators traveling to Qatar for the games.
How will this influx of visitors impact immigration, accommodations, housing, and travel in and around the Gulf Arab state?
Situated in Western Asia, Qatar is located on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and shares its sole land border with Saudi Arabia to the south, with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the northwest and southeast, respectively.
As of November 1, 2022 all foreign travelers visiting Qatar will need either a residence permit or a Hayya card to enter. The Hayya card is an entry permit to the country of Qatar and will also serve as a stadium access pass and match ticket for the games. This document replaces a visa and allows card holders to remain in Qatar for the duration of the World Cup. It’s important to note that even residents of UAE and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will need a Hayya card to enter Qatar. This requirement applies to all travelers intending to visit Qatar, regardless of the reason for entering the country.
Those who plan to travel to Qatar prior to November 1 may be permitted to enter the country with a visa. However, if visitors expect to attend FIFA World Cup 2022 matches, they will need to secure a Hayya card to access the stadium. Travelers can apply for a Hayya card directly through the official Hayya portal.
Once travelers have been approved for a Hayaa card, they will be able to secure accommodations through the Qatar Accommodation Agency. The Hayya card and arrangements for accommodations must be booked by the applicants themselves for Qatar arrivals for the period of November 1, 2022 to January 23, 2023.
The Qatar Accommodation Agency has a contract with a wide variety of housing providers and all accommodations must be booked through their site. The Qatari government has made it mandatory for every hotel, apartment, and other temporary living companies to sign up with the Qatar Accommodation Agency in an effort to ensure that every World Cup ticket holder has a place to stay in Qatar.
As might be expected, short-term accommodations in Qatar and surrounding areas, such as Dubai and Kuwait, are estimated to be at 90-100% capacity before, during, and just after the World Cup games. With increased demand and limited availability, rate increase during this period of time are guaranteed.
The residential rental market in Qatar shows an increase in price by almost 50% ahead of the World Cup, with landlords asking for two year lease commitments. Many landlords terminated leases in order to transform their properties into temporary housing options for the duration of the World Cup, limiting availability further. Virtually all local destination service providers will be limiting or ceasing to provide on-the-ground support during the World Cup dates.
Interestingly, the long-term housing market in the neighboring Dubai is not expected to be severely impacted by the World Cup for several reasons:
- Rules and regulations for rental increases and evictions are strict and protect tenants.
- Greater availability of the temporary accommodation stock.
- While Dubai hosted the 2021 World Expo over a 6-month period with more visitors than the World Cup, there was limited impact on long-term rentals.
However, Dubai has witnessed an increased influx of long-term residents over the last 12 to 18 months. Quality housing, especially in popular areas, is in limited supply.
A partnership between Qatar and all Gulf Airlines has been established expressly for the World Cup games and will be running several daily flight shuttles, transporting spectators to and from the matches. Dubai will be running a record 60 daily flights to and from Doha during that same period.
Qatar has signed an agreement with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and airlines. In addition to the UAE, daily flight shuttles have been scheduled, allowing match spectators to come to Doha for the day and stay in other neighboring countries and cities, such as Oman, Kuwait, and Sharjah.
The authorities in Doha have put a plan in place to help contend with the increase in population movement:
- Many roads will be blocked and only vehicles with license plates ending in odd or even numbers will be able to enter certain areas on a given day.
- A total of 80% of the public sector workforce will be asked to work from home and working hours for the government, private, and commercial sectors will be reduced.
- Schools will be closed from November 20 through December 18, followed by winter break from December 19 through January 1.
Qatar is making every effort to reduce the amount of traffic in and around the city to make transportation to and from the games as easy as possible for visitors.
Recommendations for Mobility Managers
We suggest taking the following actions as the World Cup draws near:
- If possible, avoid Dubai and Doha arrivals for the duration of the FIFA World Cup.
- Notify your relocation providers with ample advance to secure entry and accommodation.
- Begin the Hayya card application as soon as possible.
- Plan to secure temporary accommodations before November 1.
- Set employee expectations around the need for patience and flexibility.
Qatar has been preparing for this major world event for years and, as proud hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has taken every step to organize, plan, and prepare for its guests. While this will undoubtedly be an excting time for all spectators, it is advisable that those preparing to travel to Qatar plan in advance and exercise patience for maximum enjoyment.
Contact your account representative for more information.