Qatar is gearing up for the official start of the 2022 World Cup on Sunday, as throngs of fans and residents are feeling the excitement.
From Doha’s Souq Waqif to the packed waterfront and colourful displays on city streets, the country is abuzz over football’s premiere event, which is expected to draw more than 1.2 million visitors to Qatar.
Qatar has undergone significant transformations since it won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup over a decade ago. The tournament will be played across eight stadiums, and some fans will stay on cruise ships and at sites in the desert, with at least three floating hotels docking in Doha.
The anticipation was building on Thursday night as fans, many clad in the jerseys of their favourite teams, flocked to tourist sites across Doha and Lusail.
World Cup organisers have advised fans to plan ahead when attending matches, as the Doha Metro was expected to be much busier than usual amid the massive international influx.
Mutaz Barshim, an Olympic high-jump champion and FIFA World Cup ambassador, says the event offers a unique opportunity to unite people through football. “The World Cup will positively impact our society by showcasing our culture worldwide and helping people to create friendships and build networks,” he told Qatar’s organising committee.