Few years ago the world learned of the newest nation to win the World Cup bid: Qatar. Since the news, there’s been many calls about their venues, extreme weather, social norms (no public alcohol and ban of homosexuality) and allegations of corruption. Now there’s been light on their preparedness, specifically the housing.
According to International Business Times, thousands of football fans may end up living in Bedouin tents in desert areas near stadiums during the 2022 World Cup. Qatar is apparently facing a delay in building enough rooms. They currently estimate about 46,000 rooms to be done by the tournament, a bit short of the original 55,000 projection and 60,000 requirement by FIFA. Currently, two hotel projects have been halted (Knowlton, 2016)
A Bedouin style tent in the desert. Qatar officials are suggesting some fans experience this unique culture of Qatar. Photo permitted for reuse.
To remedy the shortage of hotel rooms, Qatar’s World Cup Supreme Committee is looking into the idea of fans sleeping under the stars. In addition to solving the housing issue, these tents also addresses many’s concern of Qatar’s no public alcohol law. The Supreme Committee has not officially said these desert tents would be alcohol-allowed, but sees it as a better option to luxury hotels, in which the sale of alcohol is extremely limited. There are also ideas of promoting fans’ stay at neighboring countries, such as UAE and Bahrain, and flying in for the games (Justice, 2016).
Whichever plan Qatar officials choose to pursue, I hope its citizens are not negatively impacted or displaced. I was living in South Korea when a relevant situation occurred. To prepare for the 2002 World Cup, many individuals were moved to make way for new hotels and stadiums, under eminent domain. Some were forced out by cranes and bulldozers. If you weren’t affected by the reconstruction efforts, practically every citizen in Seoul was instructed to limit their trash leading up to the tournament to reduce the smell of garbage in the streets.
While I agree that something like the World Cup is a phenomenal opportunity to showcase your nation to the rest of the world, a superficial sense of “perfection” seems slightly out of line. I bring up this example because I support Qatar’s idea to use tents. Rather than forcing the country’s labor and land capacities to build enough rooms, they are looking at interesting and culturally unique ways to accommodate fans. When the World Cup- and ’88 Olympics in Korea- occurred, I believe much of the traditional structures in Korea were destroyed and replaced with “modern” buildings.
Now, I realize Qatar is rethinking their hotel construction mainly due to financial reasons. They have been bled with the low oil prices. However, I am almost glad with their idea to use desert tents. While it may not be the luxurious accommodation fans may be flying across the world to see, I think there is great value in the experience. After all, isn’t this what the World Cup is about? To experience other parts of the world. Specifically for this 2022 WC in Qatar, it is a different location than your usual European or South American tournament.
Qatar officials are still discussing their housing options, but I hope fans will still have the option to experience living in tents in the desert. See Duke- do not most of us agree sleeping outside in K-ville is one of the best, authentic Duke experiences?
Justice, Adam. “Qatar considering tented desert camps for 2022 World Cup fans.” International Business Times. 22 May 2016. http://www.ibtimes.co.in/qatar-considering-tented-desert-camps-for-2022-world-cup-fans-671747
Knowlton, Emmett. “Fans visiting the 2022 World Cup will have to camp in the desert because Qatar doesn’t have enough hotel rooms”. Business Insider. 18 May 2016. http://www.businessinsider.com/qatar-2022-world-cup-hotel-shortage-2016-3