Qatar makes final preparations as 1.2 million fans arrive for the World Cup

Chloe Keedy reports on the anticipation gripping Qatar as it prepares to host the biggest sporting event in the world

With the England and Wales teams now both in Qatar, excitement about the tournament is building. 

There’s a sense of ‘calm before the storm’ in Doha. The construction work is almost finished (with less than a week to go, we came across one fanzone that was still being built), and the fans themselves are expected to start arriving in big numbers over the next few days. 

People that live here are getting in the spirit too. And they told us it’s not just the football they’re looking forward to, it’s welcoming the fans to their country and showing them their culture. 

Of course, not everyone does feel welcome here. Concerns over the country’s human rights record and the fact that same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar has meant many fans have decided to stay away. 

The build-up to this World Cup has been marred by controversy, but organisers insist Qatar is open, and they are ready to host the biggest sporting event in the world. 

That’s meant building huge fan zones to accommodate some of the 1.2 million visitors this tiny country is expecting to host. Fans will be able to watch the games on giant screens, as well as getting something to eat and drink. 

Qatari residents are preparing to welcome the world to Doha. Credit: PA

And drink has been a big talking point in the build-up to this World Cup. Qatar is a Muslim country and drinking in the street is illegal, but it’s not illegal altogether.

You’ll be able to buy a beer in those official fan zones, as well as in some bars and restaurants.

It won’t be cheap though - you can expect a pint to set you back somewhere in the region of £15. 

Rhodri Williams - a proud Welsh expat - runs a restaurant and bar in central Doha. He is preparing to welcome thousands of Welsh fans over the course of the next few weeks.

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As a resident, he’s allowed to buy alcohol at Doha’s only off licence.

He’s bought six tonnes of the stuff, which had to be delivered in six separate lorries. He told me he’s certain Welsh fans will feel that ‘Qatari warmth’ when they come to Qatar, and that they’ll feel a ‘different kind of warmth’ when they come to him. 

Warmth is a bit of an understatement for the weather here, and fans should be prepared for the unrelenting heat.

This promises to be a World Cup like no other.

It’s a tournament that has already shone a spotlight on Qatar, for many of the wrong reasons.

Now fans from all over the world are about to come here and judge for themselves.