World Cup Qatar 2022: Your Full Public Transport Guide

Can we pause for some nostalgia?

Let us remember how the World Cup Final held in Russia in 2018 was such a blockbuster. On paper, it was an even match — France vs. Croatia — pundits had predicted that the match would be won in midfield.

But that wasn’t to be; France was simply the better side. Les Bleus played some scintillating football. The likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante were at their very best.

Some sumptuous through balls, exquisite finishing, and a cohesive team performance led to a final scoreline of 4-2 after a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes.

How can you not love football? Goes a popular saying amongst fans. There is something special about the game which makes it unite the whole world.

French players celebrate winning the 2018 World Cup. Captain Hugo Lloris (centre) lifts the cup. {Image Source: talkSPORT}
French players celebrate winning the 2018 World Cup. Captain Hugo Lloris (centre) lifts the cup. {Image Source: talkSPORT}

That is why everyone has been patiently waiting for the next tournament which will be held in Qatar next year.

Qatar World Cup

One of the most interesting aspects about the showpiece event slated for November- December next year is that the eight stadiums that will host all the 65 matches are not far from each other, with the furthest distance being 55 kilometres and the shortest one being 4.5 kilometres.

The official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Logo. {Image Source: Capital News}
The official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Logo. {Image Source: Capital News}

This is a first.

To gain some perspective; At the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil, the longest distance between stadiums was more than 3,140 kilometres while the shortest one was 340 kilometres.

If you fancy that, let’s look at how the tournament has been organized.

Turning Down the Heat

The main World Cup tournaments are normally held between June and July, but FIFA, football’s governing body, after consulting with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), the Qatari authority mandated with ensuring the tournament runs smoothly, scheduled the event to take place between 21 November and 18 December next year.

This is because temperatures can go as high as 43 degrees Celsius (109 Fahrenheit) in June. But even after the event was rescheduled to be held in winter, temperatures can still hit 30 degrees Celsius, which is too hot by the normal standard.

To counter this problem, Qatari authorities have equipped all eight stadiums with high-tech cooling systems to keep the temperatures in check and provide the ultimate experience to fans, players, and technical teams.

Workers cleaning the cooling system at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha after it was refurbished ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.  {Image Source: CNN}
Workers cleaning the cooling system at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha after it was refurbished ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. {Image Source: CNN}

World Cup Stadiums

According to The Stadium Guide, here’s a list of the hosting stadiums and some key information about them.

Lusail Stadium

Location: Lusail

Distance From Hamad International Airport: 33 Kilometres

Capacity: 80,000 seats

The iconic Lusail Stadium. The facility will host the 2022 World Cup final.
The iconic Lusail Stadium. The facility will host the 2022 World Cup final. {Image Source: stadiumdb via Pinterest}

Matches

5x Group Matches
1x Round of 16
1x Quarter-Final
1x Semi-Final
Final

Al Bayt Stadium

Location: Al Khor

Distance From Hamad International Airport: 68 Kilometres

Capacity: 60,000 seats

The Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. It will host the opening match and one semi final. {Image Source: Sky Sports}
The Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. It will host the opening match and one semi-final. {Image Source: Sky Sports}

Matches

5x Group Matches (Including Opening Match)
1x Round of 16
1x Quarter-Final
1x Semi-Final

Al Janoub Stadium

Location: Al Wakrah

Distance From Hamad International Airport: 18 Kilometres

Capacity: 40,000 seats

The Al Janoub Stadium. It is designed like a canoe to represent Qatar's history. {Image Source AS Football}
The Al Janoub Stadium. It is designed like a canoe to represent Qatar’s history. {Image Source AS Football}

Matches:

5x Group Matches
1x Round of 16

Al Rayyan Stadium

Location: Al Rayyan

Distance From Hamad International Airport: 36 Kilometres

Capacity: 40,000 seats

The Al Rayyan Stadium is named after the city it is situated. Image Source: Stadia Magazine}
The Al Rayyan Stadium is named after the city it is situated. Image Source: Stadia Magazine}

Matches:

5x Group Matches
1x Round of 16

Khalifa International Stadium

Location: Doha

Distance From Hamad International Airport: 21 Kilometres

Capacity: 40,000

The Khalifa International Stadium. The arena will host the match for third place. {Image Source: Sportsmatik}
The Khalifa International Stadium. The arena will host the match for third place. {Image Source: Sportsmatik}

Matches:

5x Group Matches
1x Round of 16
Match for Third Place

Education City Stadium

Location: Doha

Distance From Hamad International Airport: 29 Kilometres

Capacity: 40,000 seats

Education City Stadium. The facility will host one semi-final. {Image Source: AS Football}
Education City Stadium. The facility will host one semi-final. {Image Source: AS Football}

Matches:

5x Group Matches
1x Round of 16
1x Quarter-Final

Ras Abu Aboud Stadium

Location: Ras Abu Aboud

Distance From Hamad International Airport: 14 Kilometres

Capacity: 40,000 seats

The Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is set to be the first fully demountable stadium to host the FIFA World Cup. {Image Source: Design Build Network}
The Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is set to be the first fully demountable stadium to host the FIFA World Cup. {Image Source: Design Build Network}

Matches:

5x Group Matches
1x Round of 16

Al Thumama Stadium

Location: Doha

Distance From Hamad International Airport: 14 Kilometres

Capacity: 40,000 seats

Al Thumama Stadium in Doha. It will host five group matches and one-quarter final. {Image Source: Gulf Times}
Al Thumama Stadium in Doha. It will host five group matches and a one-quarter final. {Image Source: Gulf Times}

Matches:

5x Group Matches
1x Round of 16
1x Quarter-Final

Traffic Management vs Security & Experience Implications

A report titled Traffic Impact Assessment for the Stadiums Hosting the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar: A Case Study authored by Shahram Tahmasseby and Padmanaban Reddipalayam Palaniappan Subramanian offers a detailed breakdown of the likely measures Qatar is likely to take as far as traffic management and security measures at the stadiums are concerned.

The paper bases its arguments on practices at previous World Cups.

Conversely, the report notes that previous world cup experiences have shown that stadiums will not be the only venues where fans will follow the tournament.

For instance, in the FIFA World Cup 2006 hosted in Germany, 27 million fans watched the tournament at publicly designated spaces and event spots. Consequently, the provision of diverse transportation means for such a level of demand is a sine qua non

REPORT: Impact Assessment for the Stadiums Hosting the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar: A Case Study
Fans from all over the world watch the 2006 World Cup at Special Fan Zones. {Image Source: The Independent}
Fans from all over the world watch the 2006 World Cup at Special Fan Zones in Germany. {Image Source: The Independent}

The report also notes;

  1. Public transport should serve as the main and preferred mode of transport to the venues because of capacity and ability to utilize existing infrastructure without extra hassle.
  2. Temporary bus stations could be deployed in open places near the stadium. If private cars are allowed near the venues, it may result in traffic jams, flow breakdowns, and a potential security breach.
  3. During the World Cup held in Germany in 2006, it was planned that spectators arrive at the venues via different routes, transportation modes, and service flows which made it easy to assign traffic flow to the access points of the stadiums as well as to segregate the rival fan groups during arrival times and post-match periods.

Accessibility Strategy

  1. To regulate traffic movements, a Traffic Preliminary Zone (TPZ) will be mapped out to manage traffic flow around the stadiums and divert non-essential activity away from the facilities.  The TPZ includes the perimeter roads of the stadium and the parking areas for the vehicles, which will be the point for screening vehicles.
  2. Temporary Vehicle Permit Checks (VPCs) need to be implemented at all access points.
  3. Security plans and carefully thought out strategies to segregate rival fan groups should be coordinated with local authorities and police patrol before and after the ticket checkpoints.
  4. A Traffic Free Zone (TFZ) confined within the TPZ will be created to be only accessible for selected user groups. In addition, security boundaries and control restrictions could be used in the stadium during the tournament.
  5. Any vehicle accessing the Traffic Preliminary Zone (TPZ) will have to go through a Traffic Permit Control (TPC). In the same fashion, to enter a Traffic Free Zone, it has to pass through a Vehicle Permit Checkpoint (VPC).
  6. Any vehicle accessing the Stadium Outer Perimeter will have to be screened at a Vehicle Screening Area (VSA). The design of the VSA will be based on the forecasted flow rates.
  7. All vehicles seeking to access the Outer Perimeter will have to be screened. The only exceptions will be VVIPs, Teams, and Emergency Vehicles.
A graphic of the proposed traffic management at World Cup stadiums to enhance security and boost the experience. {Image Source: Report}
A graphic of the proposed traffic management strategy at the World Cup stadiums to enhance security and boost the experience. {Image Source: Report}

An Overview of the Different Means of Transport

Everyone who will travel to Qatar to experience the tournament will land at the Hamad International Airport, the first stop.

The beauty of Qatar is that the major means of public transport in the country can be accessed right next to the facility.

They include Doha Metro, Taxis, and Bus Transport. Some of the matches will be played in cities serviced by trams which will be another option.

As captured in the course of this article, the eight world cup stadiums that will host the matches are not far from each other, which will provide a memorable and pleasant experience for the fans.

A statement by the Sports Press Committee Qatar notes that regardless of the mode of transport that a guest takes (Doha Metro, Taxi, Bus) from the airport, it will not take them more than half an hour to get to the venues.

Accommodation

On another note, data shared by Statista shows that the Gulf nation had 109 hotels by 2019, the last time a survey was done.

Of this number:

  • 49 are five-star hotels
  • 31 are four-star hotels
  • 22 are three-star hotels
  • 7 are two and one-star hotels

The majority of guests are likely to book hotel rooms where they will stay and commute to the different venues of the matches in good time before kickoff.

From the look of things, accommodation will not be a problem.

Let us now look at the different modes of transport.

Hamad International Airport

This will be the first stop for everyone jetting into Qatar from various parts of the world in November next year.

Hamad International Airport was ranked the best international airport globally by Skytrax Airport Awards in August this year.

The Hamad International Airport. The facility was ranked best airport globally by Skytrax Airport Awards. {Image Source: ArchDaily}
The Hamad International Airport. The facility was ranked the best airport globally by Skytrax Airport Awards. {Image Source: ArchDaily}

The aviation consultancy firm ranked the Qatari airport first after conducting a global survey that quizzed travellers on their experience at about 500 points of entry across the world.

Simply put, the respondents quipped that HIA is the most efficient, has the best operations, and has the best facilities compared to any other airport in the world.

Hamad International Airport, formerly known as The New Doha International Airport was opened in April 2014 and is named after the former Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa.

The airport is currently being expanded to accommodate 50 million passengers by 2022.

Bus Transport

Although Hamad International Airport is highly regulated, authorities have made it possible to access public transport near the facility.

Guests will have the option of taking buses offered by Mowasalat, the state agency that operates bus, taxi, and limousine services.

The buses will take them directly to the venues or their hotels.

The Mowsalat bus service covers all cities and municipalities that will host the matches, making it a reliable option.

Mowsalat’s aqua-coloured buses are air-conditioned, clean, and well maintained which is another plus.

A bus operated by Mowsalat. The buses owned and operated by the agency are air-conditioned and well maintained. {Image Source: Mowasalat}
A bus operated by Mowsalat. The buses owned and operated by the agency are air-conditioned and well maintained. {Image Source: Mowasalat}

Guests will need to note that fare payments are made via smartcards. For bus services, Karwa Smart Cards are used.

There are three types of Karwa Smart cards. Limited (2 trips a day for just under $3), Unlimited (unlimited trips a day for just under $6) and, Classic (a credit-based card that can be used for a longer period).

To pay, passengers tap their cards on the card readers when boarding or alighting the bus.

The cards can be purchased from ticket machines at Hamad International Airport, Doha Bus Station, The Qatar Mall, and The Pearl Qatar.

Guests can also book a trip using the Karwa Bus app.

The Qatari government has already expanded its road network to provide more space for vehicles during the tournament.

Taxis and Ridesharing Services

Mowasalat also operates more than 7,000 taxis in different Qatari cities and municipalities.

This means that a person arriving at the Hamad International Airport can hail a taxi via the Karwa Taxi app or physically. The same also applies to the guests who will be residing in hotels.

A taxi parked at a facility. Taxis are a convenient way to move around Qatar. {Image Source: WelcomeQatar}
A taxi parked at a facility. Taxis are a convenient way to move around Qatar. {Image Source: WelcomeQatar}

Uber and Careem are other digital taxi companies that operate in Qatar that guests can opt for.

Guests should note that the minimum fare for taxis is QR4 (USD1.10) within Doha and QR25 (USD6.87) at the Hamad International Airport.

Doha Metro

As noted by the statement by the Sports Press Committee Qatar, a ride via the Doha Metro from the Hamad International Airport to any of the eight World Cup Venues will not take more than 30 minutes.

The metro network covers all the areas that will host the 65 matches.

The Doha Metro is fully automated meaning that it is built to function without a driver.

The Doha Metro. The train is automated and operates driverless. {Image Source: Myholidays}
The Doha Metro. The train is automated and operates driverless. {Image Source: Myholidays}

Phase one of the Doha Metro became operational in 2019. It was specifically fast-tracked to be ready for the World Cup.

It consists of three lines and 36 stations.

  • The Red Line: Stretches from the Coastal city of Al Wakrah in the south to the futuristic Lusail City in the north. The fourty-kilometre line covers 18 stations including Legtaifiya Station that enables passengers to transition to the Lusail Tram Services  
  • The Green Line: The 22-kilometre line runs from Al Riffa to Al Masoura.It covers some 11 stations including Qatar National Library, Education City, Hamad Hospital and Msheireb.
  • The Gold Line: Links Al Aziziya and Ras Abu Aboud. The line covers 11 stations.

Tram Transport

Unlike the other modes of public transport, trams are available in some of the host cities.

Travellers can enjoy the tram experience, although this will be a secondary mode of transport after buses, taxis, and the Doha Metro.

Lusail Tram

The final of the Qatar World Cup will be played at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, a city situated north of Doha.

Phase one of the line was opened in November 2020. It is served by 16 stations, of which one interchanges with the metro system.

The Lusail Tram.  One of its lines interchanges with the metro system. {Image Source: Railway Technology}
The Lusail Tram. One of its lines interchanges with the metro system. {Image Source: Railway Technology}

The city’s tram network has four lines (Red, Green, Yellow, and Purple) with the capacity to ferry 1250 passengers simultaneously per line every hour in each direction.

The Lusail Tram will be an option for fans travelling to and from the Lusail Stadium.

Education City Tram

Five group matches, one round of 16 matches, and one quarter-final will be played at the Education City Stadium.

The tram will be an option for the fans making a trip to watch these matches.

Education City is a 12 square kilometre campus developed by the Qatari Foundation that hosts various educational institutions and satellite campuses of eight international institutions.

The Education City Tram. The line serves the entire campus which hosts educational institutions. {Image Source: Urban Transport Magazine}
The Education City Tram. The line serves the entire campus which hosts educational institutions. {Image Source: Urban Transport Magazine}

The first phase of the Education City Tram in Doha was opened in December 2019. The 2.4-kilometre blue line makes seven stops and serves the entire campus.

Shall the Games Begin?

Which brand of football do you prefer?

Do you like the tiki-taka style adored by the Spaniards or are you a fan of counter-attacking football deployed by teams looking to hit the opposition on the break?

Well, it is likely that when the context is international football, patriotism takes hold.

Whichever team you support, getting to the stadium to cheer the players on will not be a problem.

Billions have been invested to make sure that public transport meets the requirements.

The only thing left is for the games to begin and the exciting players to keep us at the edge of our seats.

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