Qatar 2022 charters MSC Cruises ships to ease accommodation worries

Doha Port will host two MSC Cruise liners for the duration of the World Cup, adding 4,000 beds to the Qatari capital (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) of the Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup has moved to address some of the accommodation issues surrounding the event by agreeing to charter two cruise ships for the duration of the tournament. 

The SC has partnered with Switzerland-based MSC Cruises to utilise two of its liners as floating hotels, which will be docked at the Doha Port throughout November and December of 2022. The two ships will add a total capacity of 4,000 extra beds to the Qatari capital. The SC is claiming that the cruise liners represent a more sustainable way to build hotel capacity. 

Yasir Al Jamal, chairman of the SC’s host country operations office and vice chairman of the technical delivery office, said: “We are determined to deliver a range of accommodation options which will suit every taste and budget in 2022. It is important we provide sustainable solutions for the country while ensuring an unmatched fan experience.”

The ‘floating hotels’ solution has long been mooted as a potential part of the SC’s plan to reach the 100,000 rooms that Fifa requires for its tournament, with over a million people expected to descend on the smallest country to ever host a World Cup during the month-long event. 160,000 tourists per day are expected in the country during the group stages, when all 32 qualified teams will be in competition. 

According to the New York Times, Qatar is expecting its infrastructure to be so strained that it is encouraging visitors to leave the country after attending games, rather than spending more time – and money – in the country, something which is usually seen as a primary motive for hosting a World Cup in the first place. 

The recent news that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates plan to send teams to the Gulf Cup in Qatar this month, signalling a potential thaw in relations after the two-year-long economic blockade, may suggest that the country’s neighbours could play a supporting role. Dubai is a 30-minute flight from Doha, and at the time that the tournament was awarded, it was expected that the nearby city would help in offering extra capacity. Flights between Doha and Dubai have been halted since 2017.