A fleet of luxury yachts bobbing in the harbor are among the five-star options as Dubai pulls out all the stops for wealthy football fans who want to watch Globalism cup in style.
Those without tickets but with thousands of dollars can watch the games on a big screen from the deck of the $20,000-a-night yacht, against the backdrop of the Gulf’s financial hub skyline.
With more than a hint of Dubai branding, the three-deck, 140-foot (43-meter) ship has a big screen jacuzzi, bar, and luxurious lounge with L-shaped sofas and a sparkling crystal tiger statue.
The United Arab Emirates city, an hour’s flight from World Cup host Qatar, is among the Gulf destinations expected to benefit from an influx of fans looking for more accommodation options and easy access to alcohol.
“That’s $20,000 for an overnight rental,” Jenny Thacker, director of marketing for Exclusive Yachting, told AFP, noting the boat’s features.
“We have a chef on board serving delicacies from around the world,” Thacker added, as well as “free-flowing champagne.”
The boat, which seats up to 125 people, is among a number of immaculate white yachts in Dubai’s Marina Harbour, docked and ready for a flood of crowds once the tournament gets underway on Sunday.
In one of his rooms, a large dining table is surrounded by upholstered chairs, bouquets of white roses decorated with glass plates, and silver cutlery.
An outdoor jacuzzi provides uninterrupted views from the rear. And for anyone wishing to sail to Qatar during the World Cup, the same company is offering a separate package for US$100,000 for a voyage of about six days.
Thacker said her company has received more than 15 reservations each night so far, mostly for groups of two to three people.
“The people who book with us are definitely the real VIPs…and you know the supercar owners, some of whom are really cream (de la cream) fans,” she said.
On the beach, Dubai prepares fan areas in parks, beaches and in the financial center, while hotels offer special packages.
Entrance to the Dubai Harbor Fan Zone, with 330 square meters of screens, costs $21 to stand.
But a lounge table for eight costs more than $920, while a premium suite that seats 15 retails for $3,676, including unlimited alcoholic beverages.
The upscale offering reinforces Dubai’s long-established reputation as a luxury destination, an image polished by a series of reality TV shows including Netflix’s ‘Dubai Bling’, which has become a global hit.
The show, which follows a cast described as multi-millionaires, has topped viewing lists for the platform across the Middle East, though some take issue with its depiction of a city that is also home to swathes of low-skilled migrant workers.
To impress World Cup fans, the UAE is offering multiple-entry visas for a nominal fee of 100 dirhams ($27) for visiting fans.
The budget carrier flydubai will operate no less than 30 round-trip flights a day to Doha, part of a daily airlift of 160 shuttle services from Gulf cities dedicated to the World Cup.
“The luxury goods market in Dubai and to some extent in Abu Dhabi is probably the best among the other Gulf economies, with the exception of Qatar, to benefit from the World Cup,” said James Swanston of Capital Economics.
He added, “The more liberal atmosphere compared to its Gulf counterparts… makes it conducive for tourists to visit.”
One hotel in Dubai, on the man-made Palm Island in the shape of a frond, will be given over entirely to football fans.
But not every football is radiated to the fans in Dubai. As the global inflation crisis drives up prices, many residents say they will skip World Cup celebrations to save costs.
“I will be watching (the World Cup matches on TV) … and watching them at home,” said Tony, 36, a Lebanese father of one daughter.
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