x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

An open goal for Emirates' hotels

With inquiries coming in already, hotels in the UAE seem set to benefit from the World Cup in Qatar.

Amid the uproar, the joy and the recriminations from the defeated parties, one aspect of Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup has been overlooked. The biggest winner, apart from the makers of computer animations, the designers of football stadiums and FIFA itself, must be the Dubai hotelier.

It may not be the most carbon-efficient way of watching the tournament but many people will choose to stay in Dubai and fly in for the games, just a short hour's flight away. Doha's infrastructure is not yet ready to cope with the influx of fans, nor does it have the amenities that Dubai - and Abu Dhabi - can offer.

Football fans can enjoy the UAE's water parks, golf courses, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, top-quality restaurants, bars and nightclubs. They can even experience all the fun of the air-conditioned malls before heading to the games.

Hardly surprising, then, that a few canny fans have already been making inquiries about rates and even cannier hoteliers are holding off on taking bookings. Obviously one's team needs to qualify and you will need to be able to withstand the heat of the summer - but these are trifles.

One of the curious elements of this year's World Cup in South Africa was that there were fewer tourists than normal, a statistic that might have put off bids from potential hosts. According to Thandiwe Sylvia January-Mclean, the chief executive of South African Tourism, the average of 11,000 rand (Dh5,870) per person spent during the World Cup was "fairly high" and beneficial for the country's economy. She blamed the recession for the poor turnout of visitors.

Besides, there were compensations. "The nation-building that happened in South Africa was our biggest win," said Ms January-Mclean.

That may be an expensive way to build a nation but common sense is seldom in short supply with such an event and, in any case, South Africa will be claiming that it scored a major success in its "brand" awareness. I'm not quite sure when countries or cities became brands but even if it isn't one, Dubai's proximity to Doha will pay dividends. No wonder, then, that hoteliers are rubbing their hands together in glee. And the country's airlines must also be pretty pleased.

 

rwright@thenational.ae