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This is a World Cup for the entire Middle East

While the focus will be on host nation Qatar, Dubai will do particularly well out of the World Cup and the entire region will benefit

World Cup Reuters/Amanda Perobelli
Brazil's Lucas Paqueta in action with Colombia's Gustavo Cuellar during a World Cup qualifiers game

Over the next few weeks it is expected that upwards of two million football fans will descend on the Middle East as the 22nd World Cup kicks off in Qatar on November 20. 

While the focus will be on the host nation, the smallest country to ever host the tournament, it is not just Qatar that will enjoy the riches the tournament will bring.

This is a World Cup for the entire Middle East and, from a financial perspective, Dubai will thrive. 

Delays in construction materials due to the pandemic have caused many projects in Qatar to miss completion dates, resulting in a shortage of accommodation, which has benefited neighbouring countries.

With multiple entry visas now available for those with tickets and a staggering 54 daily flights making the short 45-minute journey from Dubai International to Doha, the Dubai Sports Council estimates that one million World Cup fans will base themselves there for the duration of the football festival.

And with a large portion of football fans perhaps being a different demographic than Dubai has traditionally welcomed, it’s another opportunity to open Dubai up to the world, something that can only be good for the long-term growth of hospitality in the region.

This is on top of what is already a popular time to visit the emirate, with cooling temperatures, the resumption of outdoor activities and festivals, and other sporting events such as the Formula One in Abu Dhabi and the European Tour Finale at Jumeirah Golf Estates already taking place.

Dubai is always busy but the close to 2022 might just be the busiest time yet. 

City hotels, in particular those closest to the airport, are already at full occupancy, while food and beverage venues are expected to enjoy record-breaking business.

As such, we are expecting to see an increase of 25 percent on top of our usual business during Q4 but are using it as an opportunity to work on constantly evolving our offering to meet the demands of new tourists coming to the city, all year round. 

While packages and offers just for the duration of the World Cup will of course be in place to entice, it’s also important to use the opportunity to develop long-term strategies that will cater for the demand that Dubai continues to bring.

Aside from the financial impact the World Cup will have on the region, we should also remember something more important than balance sheets.

Holding the World Cup in Qatar – the first World Cup to be hosted in an Islamic country – demonstrates the growth of the region generally.

Detractors will question whether a country the size of Qatar is ready to host a global event like the World Cup, but then again, many said the same about Dubai’s Expo 2020.

As for the prospects of my native Australian team, in a tough group of Denmark, France, and Tunisia, my expectations are probably a little less optimistic. 

Naim Maadad is CEO of Gates Hospitality

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