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HomeEconomyQatar FIFA World Cup Organizer MPNRC
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Qatar FIFA World Cup Organizer MPNRC

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Nearly 1.2 million tickets have been sold for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, organizers said on Wednesday, putting a figure on sales for the first time.

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Chief organizer Hassan al-Thawadi said there were “record-breaking” demands for the November-December World Cup, which was held in the Middle East for the first time.

“I think about 1.2 million tickets have already been bought,” he told the Qatar Economic Forum.

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“So people are really buying and people are excited to be there. There’s no doubt about it.”

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The figure was confirmed by the organizing committee officials, who said there were about 40 million requests in the two phases of online sales.

A total of two million tickets will be sold, with one million reserved for world body FIFA and sponsors.

Qatar’s capital, Doha, which has a population of about 2.4 million, is preparing itself for a massive influx of visitors, with hotel accommodations extremely scarce.

The 32-team tournament will take place in eight stadiums in and around the capital, which will put a huge strain on the infrastructure.

Qatar says hotels, apartments, cruise ships and desert camps will have 130,000 rooms, with 1,000 traditional tents. It has promised shared rooms for as little as $85 a night.

To limit the number of fans, only people with match tickets will be allowed to enter the small, gas-rich country during the World Cup, officials announced last month.

More than 160 round-trip shuttle flights a day will bring fans from neighboring countries, easing pressure on accommodation, while capacity has been doubled at Doha’s two international airports.

But al-Thawadi acknowledged it was “difficult” to rein in housing prices, which are rising in line with demand.

“(We want to) avoid raising prices,” he said. “Obviously market forces always mean that as long as there is a lot of demand, prices skyrocket.

“We’re trying to create an environment where the business community benefits, but at the same time, it’s affordable and accessible to fans as well.”

Al-Thawadi also downplayed the possibility of protests in Qatar, following persistent criticism over the treatment of foreign workers in a country with the world’s highest GDP per capita.

He did not say whether protests would be allowed in Qatar, where demonstrations are rare, or whether fans could wave a rainbow flag representing the LGBTQ community.

“Welcome everyone. But we have a very rich culture, appreciating where you’re coming from. We ask people to respect our culture.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and authorities are struggling to convince gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer fans that they will be safe.

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