Entry rules for fans going to the Fifa World Cup in Qatar were changed on Thursday.
World Cup fans without tickets will be allowed to enter Qatar from December 2, the country has announced.
Previously, those without tickets would not be able to enter Qatar unless they were travelling with a Hayya card holder, who could invite up to three non-ticketed fans for a 500 riyal ($140) fee.
The new rules mean fans without tickets can enjoy all the football fever of the knockout stages.
A tweet from Road to 2022 confirmed the rule change.
We are delighted to announce that fans without tickets can enter the State of Qatar after the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group Stage – starting from 2 Dec 2022 – to enjoy the unique atmosphere here with teams and fans in the country. pic.twitter.com/cIoNdO767T— Road to 2022 (@roadto2022en) November 3, 2022
All ticket holders still need to apply for a Hayya card.
Those without tickets entering Qatar from December 2 also need to apply for a Hayya card.
And until December 23, international fans passing through the Abu Samra border crossing must have a vehicle entry permit.
Fans driving across the border will have to pay a charge.
The charge does not apply to citizens, residents and GCC nationals who have a Qatari ID card and are driving a vehicle with Qatari number plates.
Increased visitor numbers
Qatar is expecting around 1.2 million international visitors to the country for the month-long tournament, with ticket sales approaching three million for the 64 games.
The rule change will be likely to boost visitors at a time when the number of teams left in the tournament will be reduced from 32 to 16, with the final four group matches played on December 2.
The demand on Qatar’s limited stock of accommodation — which includes hotels, apartments, hired cruise ships and campsites — will be lowered somewhat.
Fans have been looking to neighbouring cities, such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat, for accommodation and booking shuttle flights to Doha.
The round of 16 matches starts on December 3, with the final set to be played on December 18 at the Lusail Stadium in Doha.
Hayya card benefits
The Hayya card gives fans free metro and bus travel in Doha, as well as access to events, discounts, a free sim card from local operator Ooredoo and emergency medical treatment.
It allows for multiple entries to Qatar from November 1 to December 23.
Hayya cardholders can apply online for a multiple-entry tourist visa to the UAE.
The visa, which costs Dh100, is valid for 90 days from the date it is issued and can be extended for another 90 days.
Hayya cardholders are not required to have travelled to Qatar before visiting the UAE.
Organisers said applications for international fans should take five calendar days for preliminary approval, subject to photo and passport copy quality compliance, and up to an additional 24 hours for accommodation confirmation, depending on accommodation type.
They will also be able to apply for a free e-visa for Saudi Arabia, which will allow fans to stay in the kingdom for up to 60 days.
Cardholders can also get a free 60-day visa for Oman. Visa holders can bring a first-degree relative with them to enjoy their stay in the sultanate.