Today we sent Brian and Dan out into the centre of Doha to find out exactly what there is to do….judge for yourself whether you could cope with a week here? Brave lads.
Everywhere you look in Doha, there is construction work going on. A quick scan of the city skyline shows at least a dozen cranes working on ever growing buildings. It’s a hive of activity, and given the progress of them, these have been going on for some time.
It would be more than a touch arrogant in a way to assume that this is all for the arrival of the World’s biggest single sporting event in 11 years time. Most of the buildings look like they are for more office space, so I can’t imagine that many fans will be heading for these to find somewhere to stay.
There is some construction work going on a lot closer to the hotel where we are staying, and while our hotel has several floors, it is now in the process of being dwarfed by the buildings going up next door. One word of caution though; rooms are going to be very expensive if you venture out here, and it can be argued that this is just one more way in which the ordinary fan is being priced out of the modern game.
The building work is going on everywhere. Out here, there are hotels going up, and there are also several going up in the city centre. The city isn’t the most pedestrian friendly place anyway, with many private roads in the city, which look as though they contain government buildings, as well as private dwellings. Those that are finished are quite impressive, and cast a fair amount of shadow over the wide roads that cut across central Doha. One even looks like the UEFA Cup, although we are yet to find one that looks like any other trophy.
Many pavements have been shut off because of the building work going on, which means that it can get a bit on the hairy side trying to cross over a road to use the pedestrian walkway. Everyone seems to drive out here, and from our experience, the indicator appears to be an optional extra that you either chose to have or not. This means that it can be difficult to judge whether you should be able to cross the road or not, as drivers look as though they change lane at the last minute. What is fitted to each car as standard is the car horn.
While the building work would appear to show an economy doing reasonably well, extra office space isn’t something that is going to be useful for those travelling out here for the World Cup in 2022. There is plenty of land that is currently undeveloped, so perhaps that is going to be used to create the necessary accommodation for the tournament. But it will be expensive as mentioned earlier. Most of the hotels out here at the moment seem to be either 4 or 5 star, which are expensive enough as it is, but will only get dearer for a tournament where a place to stay will be at a premium. My advice is to start saving now.
We’ve already covered the transport network, but interesting news reached us today, that there are plans for a monorail system to be built in time for the competition. The details are not yet out there, but if this is to happen, then it would certainly help moving supporters around. Walking doesn’t appear to be a big thing out here (probably due to the heat during the summer months), so any improvements in pavements would help, and if the shuttle bus scheme can be improved, then perhaps the additional of a new rail network may help. We have seen no evidence of a rail network out here so far, so the inevitable questions will be if anyone will use it if everyone drives, and where will it go? Is it just going to link the city centre with the stadiums? Or is it going to provide the citizens of Doha with a new way to get around town, instead of relying on a car? Only time will tell.
Tuesday 11th January – Group D, DPR Korea 0 UAE 0, Qatar Sports Club
Thankfully transport is not an issue for this one, so a brisk walk out to the stadium in the sunshine got us to the ground before 3pm. When we booked the tickets for this one, we didn’t anticipate much of a crowd, and I am happy to report that we were not disappointed. Just over three and a half thousand showed up for this one, and what a game they had to endure.
I’ll go through the game as quickly as I can. The game started, North Korea missed a fifth minute penalty, then there was just over eighty minutes of almost total boredom, it got a bit cold, and then the referee blew the whistle for full time. There were a couple of quarter chances towards the end (these were not full chances and I would be stretching it if I said half chances), but while the Korean goalkeeper made a couple of good saves from these efforts, it was one of those games that 0-0 written all over it as soon as the penalty hit the post.
After entering the area around the stadium, we waited around for about a quarter of an hour, and saw a dozen people go past us. Many of these were Korean, although given that their supports at last year’s World Cup were actually Chinese, we can not be sure which nationality they were. What wasn’t in doubt though was that you could spot their fans in the stadium, as they didn’t venture away from the group, and were the only ones in the ground clad in shirts and ties. They were led by a middle aged cheerleader, resplendent in his own shirt and tie, with a megaphone which on closer inspection turned out to be a rolled up piece of paper. Their flag waving was exceptional, as was their version of the wave; not just from side to side, but front to back as well. It was all very inspiring, it really was.
There was also the excited yelping when the ball went forward, although several of these seemed to be in the wrong place. You must know what I mean by this; there are times in the game when the crowd almost instinctively oohs or aahs, but today was just a bit, well, out of place. Still, we must give them and their UAE counterparts credit for trying to make it interesting, as the game was lacking in anything. For those England fans reading this, the only game I can compare this to in recent times was Macedonia at Old Trafford in October 2006. It was really that poor.
More pictures from Brian and Dan’s adventures can be found here.