What a bucket list experience!
In the summer, we were lucky enough to get hold of tickets to the England v USA world cup game in Qatar! I was in England at the time and managed to persuade my Dad to come along with us as well!
Roll on November and England beat Iran in their first game 6:2 and we were absolutely buzzing for our game the following week!
We were traveling over to Qatar with friends so we went over to their hotel to meet for lunch and then took a minibus down to Dubai World Central Airport. The main airport in Dubai is DXB, but as Dubai were running several “shuttle flights” daily over to Doha, they made use of DWC airport for this purpose. We flew with Qatar Airways for the 40 minute flight over to Doha.
Our flight left Dubai at 5pm and arrived in Doha at 5pm local time (factoring in the one hour time difference). Doha Airport had such a buzz about it. People from all over the world were there, playing music, wearing flags, dancing. It was an incredible thing to experience. We saw a couple of Mexican fans with their flags and sombreros and I went over to say hi and have a photo with them.
900 Park Fan Zone
We took a local taxi to the 900 Park Fan Zone which was attached to the Intercontinental Hotel. The fan zone atmosphere was incredible, people were dancing on the tables, offering face paint – and you could buy as much alcohol as you wanted (unlike how the Daily Mail had been reporting!)
We stayed in the fan zone for a few hours and watched the Denmark game on the big screen before getting an Uber over to the Al Bayt stadium.
Al Bayt Stadium
The drive to the stadium was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Our taxi driver was amazing and connected our phones up so we could play all of the England songs. We were all singing along getting so excited for the game. The taxi driver then drove down a side street to a small café and brought us all a cup of tea. It was so kind of him.
The traffic to enter the stadium had really built up so our taxi driver pulled over on the side of the road and we ran across the motorway to cut the queue! As we entered the grounds of the stadium, people were chanting and there were bands playing music with dancers.
Entering the stadium itself was a feeling I think I will remember forever. By the time we had arrived, the majority of fans were already there so there was a great atmosphere. We headed down to our seats – Row B – and as we sat down the camera panned to us and we could see ourselves up on the big screen!
My Dad had a flag made with our home town, Lowestoft, and a Leeds United badge (his team) and he was so excited that it made it up onto the big screen as well!
England v USA
The game itself was probably the most disappointing part of the trip! The score was 0.0 and honestly, not a lot happened during the match. We were surprised that the fans were mixed so we were sat amongst both England and USA fans for the game.
The Journey Home
I have to admit, leaving the stadium was a bit of a nightmare. We followed the queues to the taxi, which took about 45 minutes to walk, and once we arrived, there wasn’t a single taxi, Uber or Careem in sight. Everyone was piled in this car park, confused and not sure what to do. We ended up knocking on car windows asking for a lift to the airport and paid a local guy QAR400 to drive us there. It should have only been a 45 minute journey but took almost 2 hours in traffic. We arrived at the airport as our gate opened – luckily we had been provided with our return boarding passes on the outward journey and had no luggage so were straight through and boarded within no time. By this point it was 4am and we were all exhausted. I slept the entire flight back to Dubai.
Although we didn’t get the score we had hoped for, and didn’t see any goals, being able to watch England play in a World Cup game with my Dad is a memory I will treasure forever.