World Cup 2022: What’s happening in Qatar besides the football?

Music festivals, cultural activities and new museums await visitors before and during the football World Cup.

Enrique Iglesias
Enrique Iglesias became the latest artist to perform in Qatar before the World Cup [Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

Doha, Qatar – It is not just 32 of the planet’s best football teams and more than a million football fans heading to Qatar this month.

Some of the world’s most famous entertainment stars are also on their way to the Gulf country, which has announced a flurry of events and activities to offer visitors and residents more than just football.

Qatar is bursting onto the global stage later this month with an estimated five billion people – more than half the population of Earth – expected to tune in to FIFA World Cup games. With the world watching, Qatar is determined to put on a show.

Dozens of hotel and leisure complexes have been built in the 12 years since Qatar was awarded hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup. New entertainment venues, beaches, resorts, museums, and restaurants – it is all part of the package.

Flags of the World Cup participating countries during the Darb Lusail Festival on Lusail Boulevard. [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

There are no fewer than three music festivals running concurrently while the World Cup is on. Fans will get to enjoy acts including Black Eyed Peas and Armin van Buuren.

Enrique Iglesias played at Doha Golf Club on Friday, with the same venue expected to host Black Eyed Peas.

The Arcadia Festival, with three iconic stages, will attract more than 100 international artists and run from November 19 to December 19, a day after the World Cup final.

The event includes a fire-breathing 50-tonne Spider and a laser-heavy Reactor stage set. Daydream Festival, meanwhile, is taking over the famous Doha Golf Club hosting electronic acts, including Tiesto, Alesso, ATB and Paul van Dyk.

Qatar’s iconic Museum of Islamic Art reopened to the public last month. Among the wave of new openings for visitors in 2022 was the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum.

More than 1.2 million fans are expected to travel to Qatar to watch the World Cup. Almost 2.9 million tickets have been sold.

Apartments, hotel rooms, desert camps, villas, fan villages and even cabins on moored cruise ships have been made available for fans coming to Qatar. Some fans will opt to stay in the UAE, Oman and Iran, flying in on “shuttle” flights to watch the football before heading back without having to spend the night in Qatar.

The country has reported an influx in international arrivals which is currently at a five-year high, with 151,000 visitors turning up in September alone. Arrivals from other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations made up 44 percent of total international arrivals, led by Saudi Arabia which accounted for nearly 30 percent of total figures, according to the Qatar Tourism Authority.

Qatar 2022, host organisers, said “Qatar will host a vast array of cultural and entertainment options for the whole family” during the World Cup.

Enrique Iglesias
More than 1.2 million visitors are expected to visit Qatar during the World Cup [Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

“The countrywide festival will include more than 90 special events set to take place on the sidelines of the tournament … the major events will feature match viewing areas, music festivals, cultural displays and street performances,” it said.

In the capital, Doha, the Corniche has been pedestrianised since the start of November, and the 6km (3.7 miles) stretch of road by the water “will have a carnival atmosphere featuring roving performances, cultural activities, food and beverage stalls, and retail outlets”.

Keeping the numbers in mind, Qatar is expected to deploy tens of thousands of security forces to ensure a seamless World Cup.

The host country has signed numerous security cooperation deals with several countries, including Morocco, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Turkey and NATO.

Source: Al Jazeera