LET THE BALL ROLL

After 12 years in the making, Qatar is ready to host the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East. OHLALA brings some interesting facts, where to watch and more.

Chief Executive Officer, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Nasser Al Khater, said: “Qatar is ready to welcome the world and host a unique edition of the FIFA World Cup – the first to take place in the Middle East and Arab world. Fans can expect top-class international football and a vast array of entertainment options.”

Amongst many firsts in the 92-year existence of the tournament, it is the only time it’s being held during winter. With eight state-of-the-art stadiums poised for action, Qatar is ready to deliver the first World Cup in the Gulf. At least 1.2 million football fans are expected to descend on Doha to witness this piece of sporting history happening in the region.

THE TOURNAMENT

A total of 32 teams will fight for the cup in 64 matches between November 20 and December 18, with the first Group A game taking place after the opening ceremony between the host country and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium. The final will be held at Lusail Stadium on Qatar national day, December 18.

The event will happen in eight different stadiums across the country. The furthest distance between any two stadiums is around 70 kilometres, or 45 miles, meaning that it’s one of the most densely packed tournaments ever. The teams are organised into eight groups for the tournament’s first phase. With four teams in each group (Group A – Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and Netherlands. Group B – England, Iran, United States and Wales. Group C – Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland. Group D – France, Australia, Denmark and Tunisia. Group E – Spain, Costa Rica, Germany and Japan. Group F – Belgium, Canada, Marocco and Croatia. Group G – Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon. Group H – Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea), the countries will play the other teams in their group once. Winners are awarded three points and losers get no points. At the end of the group stage, the top two teams with the most points in each group qualify for the knock-out rounds.

FAN ZONES AND WHERE TO WATCH FIFA

World Cup Qatar 2022 Fan Festival will be the heart of all activations in the country during the competition and kicks off on November 14 and runs until December 18 at Al Bidda Park. The site can accommodate a capacity of 40,000 fans, and the entrance will be free-ofcharge. It will showcase all 64 matches on mega screens. There’ll also be live music and culinary experiences. The Fan Festival also has three zones: Live, Food and Play.

Hayya Fan Zone is the second main fan zone and will be set up on the Lusail Marina Promenade. It will be open between November 20 and December 18 from 12pm to 12am and will have the capacity for up to 3,500 fans at a time with free entry. You can watch all 64 matches on the big screens. There will also be an ice rink for ice-skating and ballet shows, live DJs, international bands and local acts, and unique food and beverage options.

Over on Qetaifan Island North, football fans will be able to watch all the tournament action on the big screens and catch live concerts at the Qetai-Fan Beach Fest Powered by Unit-Y. Alongside resident artists and shows from international acts, including French Montana, CeeLo Green and Alex Sensation, there will be water activities, retail stores and more than 50 food and beverage outlets. Running from November 19 to December 18, the beachfront festival will also see artists like Ryan Castro, Oxlade and DJ-Twins take centre stage. For tickets and more information, please visit qetaifanbeachfest.com

If you’re looking for a more private fan zone experience, there’s no better place than watching at one of Doha’s best sports bars, Champions, at Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel. With more than 47 LED screens, two giant projectors, live commentary, a fantastic selection of food and beverages and exciting vibes, Champions is your spot to cheer for your team. Running daily, during the tournament period, from 12pm to 3am, there is a package starting at QR200 per person, including three selected beverages.

If you would like to book a private room, that will be priced at QR5,000, inclusive of food and beverages. If you love open-air and want to experience a stadium-spirit kind of vibe, Aqua Lounge at Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel is the place to go. Look forward to giant screens, jam-packed live entertainment, games and food and beverage specials and more exciting surprises. The offer runs daily from the beginning of the games until the end, from 12pm to 2am and has packages starting from QR200 per person, including three selected beverages.

Are you looking to watch the matches on a rooftop terrace? Fanzone by INCA at The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa will have big screens on their Mix terrace offering amazing finger food and cold brews. But that’s not all; you will also party to the tunes of a DJ and samba dancers. The venue will be open every day from November 18 until December 2 from 12pm to 2am. From December 3 until the end of the competition, it will be open from 5pm to 2am.

Enjoy an unlimited array of Spanish flavours and an unforgettable football experience at The Cellar located at Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha, with football matches shown live on multiple screens. The offer runs daily from November 20 to December 18, 12pm to 2am, and is priced à la carte, with tapas starting from QR55 per order.

Set on an open-air terrace, Choices Football Garden at Hyatt Regency Oryx brings a casual, fun and lively football garden ambience with giant LED screens dotted around. It will offer gourmet barbecue live cooking, a selection of beverage options, and live DJ in-between and pre- and halftime during matches. The offer runs daily from November 20 to December 18, 12pm to 2am, and is priced at QR300 for the group stage of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and QR500 for the marquee matches, quarter-finals and onwards, with food and beverage coupons given per person, per match.

MORE ENTERTAINMENT

The World Cup Festival 2022 at Doha Corniche will set up a global street festival along Doha’s iconic six-kilometre waterfront. The space will be transformed into a carnival with stellar performances from November 14 to December 18, from 10am to 12am. There will be concerts, art, culture, and storytelling from Sheraton Park to the Museum of Islamic Art. The event will have four live stages and more than 150 food outlets. There will also be a stunning display of light and water shows every day. The ‘Welcome to Qatar’ water and pyrotechnic shows will feature music from the Qatar 2022 Official Soundtrack, Qatari composer Wael Binali and the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. You’ll be able to catch them every afternoon with a grand show at 9pm.

World Stage is a collaboration between Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism, sponsored by Ooredoo, and organised by Alchemy Project under the Qatar Live 2022 series of events. The World Stage will kick off with the legendary Los Angeles trio Black Eyed Peas on November 20, with the last performance on December 17 at Doha Golf Club. Qatar Live 2022 is also presenting concerts with performances from Enrique Iglesias, Maroon 5, Post Malone, J Balvin and Robbie Williams.

Darb Lusail Festival will happen at Lusail Boulevard. The three-day festivities will represent the Middle East, Southern Asia and North Africa with headline talents, drone light shows, and artistic performances. It’s taking place from November 3 to 5, and you will need your Hayya card for entry. Doors to the Boulevard will open at 5pm, with the drone shows scheduled for 7pm. Non-ticketed performances by artists Abdulaziz Louis and Joseph Attieh will take place on November 3 and Ahmed Saad will take the stage on November 5. The only ticketed event will be on November 4, where Lusail Stadium will host some of South Asia’s biggest stars, including the legendary Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, singer Sunidhi Chauhan, composing duo Salim-Sulaiman and other acts such as Perfect Amalgamation.

ARAVIA has been released by Saudi music entertainment company MDLBEAST. The event will take place over 28 nights in Al Wakrah. With a capacity of 5,500 dance music fans, the event will showcase premiere international talents and rising regional stars during more than 160 hours of global shows and 56 spectacular acts, including international performers like Tyga, Hardwell, Afrojack, DaBaby and Steve Aoki. The line-up also includes rising Saudi artists Biirdperson, DJ duo Dish Dash and Cosmicat, as well as regional singers Hamaki and Amr Diab. Other notable stars performing include David Guetta on November 26, Tyga on December 2, Fatboy Slim on December 6 and Calvin Harris on December 7. Get the full lineup and ticket details on aravia.mdlbeast.com/en

Lusail Boulevard will be transformed into a vibrant and colourful destination at the heart of Lusail City with live music and concerts, street performances and parades. The 1.3-kilometre stretch of the boulevard has a capacity for 60,000 visitors and will also feature daily light shows and more than 50 food outlets. Some activities on the site may require admission tickets. Lusail Boulevard can be accessed from November 20 until December 18 and the series of events will run from 11am until midnight.

CULTURAL AGENDA

In the run-up to the event, many attractions, exhibitions and activities have been unveiled for fans and visitors.

The World of Football Exhibition at 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum runs until April 1, 2023, and celebrates the historic occasion with an exhibition split into two halves. Football for All, All for Football examines the universal and global appeal of football, while The Road to Doha will take you on a journey from the first FIFA World Cup matches in Uruguay in 1930 to the final at the Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022.

Take a poll about which new art installation is creating the most community buzz in Qatar, and chances are Flag Plaza on the Corniche will emerge with flying colours. Adjacent to the Museum of Islamic Art, Flag Plaza is a visually spectacular celebration of diversity, with 119 national flags proudly waving about a dozen metres into the Doha sky. From Germany to Guinea Bissau, the Philippines to Pakistan, Kuwait to Kyrgyzstan, and Somalia to Switzerland, the flags represent all nations with diplomatic missions accredited by the State of Qatar. Over and above the high-flying icons, or right below them, to be precise, you’ll find infographic poster boards displaying interesting facts about the represented countries.

Katara Cultural Village has announced that it will organise 51 events and 300 sub-events with the participation of 22 countries. The World Cup programme will be divided into five main categories: festivals, concerts, exhibitions, live shows, and events, and will run from November 8 to December 18.

INSPIRED BY THE GAME

International fashion brand ETRO created a limited-edition T-shirt inspired by the magic and beauty of Qatar landmarks to celebrate the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. A collaboration with Ever Fashion Luxury Group, the 450-piece special capsule collection includes a men’s and a women’s style embellished with a vibrant print featuring floral motifs and Qatar’s skyline in the iconic colours of the Qatar national flag. Alongside the tees, the maison also designed a matching shopping bag. The limitededition creations are available exclusively at the ETRO boutique in Doha’s Place Vendôme Mall.

Hublot is the Official Timekeeper of the FIFA World Cup for the fourth consecutive edition and will time all 64 games at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The 129 official referees will be timing the game with the new Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on their wrists. The celebratory Big Bang watch is a smartwatch with a brand-new timeline function that will take fans into the heart of the games. The timepiece is highly personalised, with dozens of dial options available in the accompanying smartphone app. The official version has a burgundy dial and a black and burgundy lined rubber strap inspired by the Qatari flag colours. A watch for style-conscious people and football lovers!

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