Reality ends some Qatar dreams of World Cup rental bonanza

  • The agency says Qatar Hotel Group has requested new payments
  • Some prices reduced, but many properties are empty
  • Realtor says some landlords want unrealistic rents

DOHA, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Qatar has faced an unexpected spate of rooms in the busy group stage of the World Cup, with online portals showing rooms in at least 42 hotels and Airbnb offering hundreds of options for this weekend.

That’s a far cry from pre-tournament warnings from Qatari officials, including the CEO of Qatar Airways, and fan groups like Football Supporters Europe of a shortage that prompted organizers to seek additional accommodation in villas, apartments, cruise ships, makeshift cabins and even to arrange desert camps.

Doha landlords had expected a bonanza of 1.2 million visitors, with numbers expected to peak between November 24-28, but the excess has caused rents to collapse and will impact the broader property market, they said some real estate agents.

Two real estate agents, two housing companies and renters say some landlords in the small Gulf state have charged unrealistically high rents in the run-up to the event, which has left thousands of rooms vacant.

Many fans have opted to stay outside of Doha and fly in for the games, using up to 500 daily shuttle flights from nearby cities such as the tourist hub of Dubai, which the Qatar Airways boss said was partly in response to what he called referred to as “lack of accommodation” were used. .

“We were in touch with half the city, all the big real estate companies… They weren’t interested,” said a housing agent who has worked at several global sporting events and asked not to be identified for business reasons.

The agent gave the example of a two-bedroom apartment in Doha that was listed for $1,200 a night in early October. A week before the World Cup began on Nov. 20, the rate was $250 a night, the realtor said.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the organizer of the tournament, did not respond to Reuters’ request for an updated room availability or why the expected housing shortage has not materialized.

Organizers say a range of accommodation is on offer, from $80-a-night rooms on the desert fringes of Doha to luxury cabins on cruise ships, some costing thousands of dollars a day.

For the remaining peak nights, the official accommodation portal on Friday showed available rooms in 42 hotels, villas and apartments, while showed rooms in 73 properties and offered 503 “houses”.

Eleven days before kick-off, the organizers spoke of at least 25,000 rooms available for each World Cup night.


In a sign that pre-tournament concerns have raised expectations among some hoteliers and landlords, four cases of late rate increases have been reported to Reuters.

A group of 10 guests arriving in Qatar from Italy a week before the start of the World Cup have been embroiled in a dispute between their hotel and their travel company over a surcharge, their agent said.

Khaya Global told Reuters that it had received demands for payments of at least $550,000 in the two weeks leading up to the World Cup from each of the seven hotels it has exclusively contracted, in addition to the allegedly more than $10 million US dollars it’s prepaid. Reuters has seen bills for $550,000.

Reuters did not see the full original contract, but reviewed a copy of a handwritten bill for $40,000 that Khaya boss Volkhard Bauer said was from the Al Mansour Park Inn. Neither the hotel nor its owner have responded to a Reuters request for confirmation of the bill.

“I’ve never heard anything like that at any World Cup,” Bauer said of the last-minute allegations. His agency Khaya has booked accommodation at three previous World Cups and sold rooms to fans, FIFA sponsors and other officials.

Bauer’s weary guests were finally checked in after the agency transferred the requested amount, he told Reuters.

Another hotel, the Waterfront Hotel and Apartments, billed Reuters for $53,700 for guests scheduled to have extra beds in nine rooms during the tournament, increasing the surcharge from the agreed $90 to $250 per night .

Neither the hotel nor the owner of the pair responded to repeated requests for comment from Reuters.


It’s not just overseas visitors who are seeing costs soar.

While some landlords cut rates as the tournament approached, many were still trying to secure short-term deals at much higher rates, crowding out residents, the accommodation agent and real estate agents said.

Long-term rents in Qatar rose more than 30% in the third quarter, with some landlords requiring prospective tenants to sign two-year leases that tie them to current rates, real estate services firm Cushman and Wakefield said in a Sept. 30 report.

Reuters spoke to longtime residents of five apartment buildings and two condominiums in Doha who said landlords had refused to renew annual contracts in the months leading up to the tournament and were raising rents.

At The Pearl, an upscale neighborhood built on an artificial island, a 30-year-old Tunisian woman whose lease expired in October said her apartment owner told her he would not renew it until the World Cup was over.

He made this conditional on her leaving her furniture behind in order to be able to rent the apartment furnished, said the woman, who did not want to name her landlord.

“I basically felt compelled to agree to his offer,” she said, adding that she’s wary of committing to expensive long-term rates.

But she still had to rent a temporary apartment as her football-loving brothers bought tickets to the tournament.

Reporting and writing by Andrew Mills; Editing by Dominic Evans, Ghaida Ghantous and Alexander Smith

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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