Qatar is preparing for the official start of the 2022 World Cup on Sunday masses of fans and residents are feeling the excitement.
From Doha’s Souq Waqif to the bustling waterfront and colorful displays in the city streets, the country is abuzz with the football premiere event, which is expected to draw more than 1.2 million visitors to Qatar.
Qatar has undergone profound transformations since winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup more than a decade ago. The tournament will be played in eight stadiums and some fans will be staying on cruise ships and desert venues, with at least three floating hotels docking in Doha.
Anticipation was heightened Thursday night as fans, many dressed in the jerseys of their favorite teams, flocked to tourist spots in Doha and Lusail.
World Cup organizers have advised fans to plan ahead when attending matches as the Doha Metro was expected to be much busier than usual amid the huge international influx.
Mutaz Barshim, an Olympic high jump champion and FIFA World Cup ambassador, says the event offers a unique opportunity to unite people through football. “The World Cup will have a positive impact on our society by bringing our culture to the world’s attention and helping people forge friendships and build networks,” he told Qatar’s organizing committee.