Qatar could accommodate thousands more football fans on cruise ships during the 2022 World Cup than previously estimated, leading organizers in the emirate have revealed. An official with the country's largest hotel owner, Katara Hospitality, confirmed on Sunday that up to 20,000 rooms on ships would be made available to supporters in four years' time.
That is a marked increase on a previous 2015 estimate which planned 6,000 rooms for 12,000 fans during the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East. Officials though could not say exactly how many extra fans would be accommodated with the increase in room numbers.
However, using the same calculation, up to 40,000 fans could be housed on boats if 20,000 cruise ship rooms are used. Senior tourism and tournament figures have in recent days said more fans could use boats throughout the period of the World Cup, which will extend from mid November to mid December.
Katara Hospitality boss Hamad Abdulla al-Mulla told local media: Qatar will have almost 60,000 hotel rooms ready much before the start of 2022. Besides this, up to 20,000 rooms in cruise ships will be available throughout the tournament.
It will cover the minimum requirement of 80,000 rooms for the mega sporting event.
Hassan al-Thawadi, head of the 2022 organising body, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said last week that around 20,000 cruise ship rooms would be made available for fans. The cruise ships would serve as floating hotels.
Qatar has said fans could also be housed in tents in desert areas close to stadiums, and it is considering using Airbnb in 2022.
The gas-rich country has estimated up to 1.5 million fans could travel to Qatar for the World Cup. Many of these were initially expected to be from neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. However an ongoing 16-month diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its Gulf former allies currently prevents nationals from those countries travelling to the World Cup host.