Organizers of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup are considering a proposal to house thousands of football fans in Bedouin-style tents in desert camps close to stadiums amid growing concerns about a potential shortage of accommodation during the tournament.
The recent crisis of tumbling oil prices have forced the tiny Gulf state to delay projects, including building hotels.
Qatar authorities failed to live up to their bid in 2010, saying they would create more than 55,000 rooms and have 46,000 rooms ready in January. FIFA’s requirement was for 60,000 rooms to be available.
However, to meet those requirements, organizers are holding up the tent idea as a creative and culturally authentic way for Qatar to meet those requirements.
“At the heart of this World Cup is a commitment to showcase the hospitality and friendship of the Middle East. As a result, we are actively researching the concept of supporters sleeping under the stars,” a spokesperson for Qatar’s World Cup Supreme Committee told Reuters without giving further details.
Since winning its bid, Qatar has paid out tens of billions of dollars on upgrading infrastructure and has built scores of hotels and apartment complexes but some projects have been held up including a $12 billion bridge and underwater tunnel link across Doha bay and building at least two hotels in the capital.
A Supreme Committee spokesperson said Qatar was on track to deliver the minimum number of hotel rooms required by FIFA.
Desert camping, a popular winter activity popular for Qataris, who are known for assembling luxurious sites among the sand dunes, could also contribute to alleviating concerns about thin occupancy after the event, analysts say.
The Supreme Committee did not specify whether the camps would serve as the specially created “fanzones” in which Muslim Qatar has said fans will be allowed to consume alcohol.
Public drinking of alcohol is generally forbidden in Qatar, which also limits the sale of alcohol primarily to luxury hotels.
Qatar is still debating how to best set scales between the country’s cultural values and FIFA’s requirements for the tournament.
A government official also said that Qatar is also looking at promoting private letting services such as Airbnb and putting up spectators on cruise ships docked along the coast,
If fans choose to stay in neighboring countries, such as the UAE and Bahrain – where hotel rooms and alcohol may be more readily available – and fly in to watch matches, that could further reduce a potential strain on accommodation.