Nearly 20,000 Israelis expected in Qatar for World Cup

Israeli soccer fans able to obtain entry visas upon presentation of proof of a ticket purchase

Nearly 30,000 Israelis are expected to travel to Qatar to attend matches at the hotly anticipated World Cup, taking place from November 20 to December 18.

The two countries do not have diplomatic relations, but Israel – which did not qualify for the tournament – announced in June an agreement allowing its citizens, like other foreigners, to obtain an entry visa to Qatar upon presentation of proof of tournament ticket purchase.

Qatar does not recognize Israel and supports Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group in power in the Gaza Strip.

Israelis have already purchased 20,000 tickets, with another 10,000 expected to be sold at the last minute as the competition begins in two weeks.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has also not published a warning for this destination to date.

On Sunday, Cypriot airline Tus Airways announced that it received permission from Doha to operate flights between Israel and Qatar during the World Cup. 

Flights from Tel Aviv will include a ‘diplomatic stopover’ in Larnaca, as Israel has no official relations with the Gulf state, making a direct flight from the Jewish state unfeasible, the airline said. 

The second leg of the flight will take place in the same aircraft with the same crew. Return flights will be under the same conditions. 

However, Israelis have other options for getting to Qatar. 

Emirates and Etihad from the United Arab Emirates, the Bahraini Gulf Air, Royal Jordanian flying out of Aman and Turkish Airlines are all viable options, and are considered the most practical in terms of duration of flight, number of flights, choice of seats and waiting time at the airport. 

Some 1.2 million visitors are expected during the World Cup in Qatar, a country of 2.8 million people, which is preparing to host the biggest event in its history.

Arab Observer

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