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Doha: The first match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador have started.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 started in Qatar today (Sunday) which is happening in the Middle East for the first time.
The opening ceremony kicked off in a tent-shaped stadium ahead of the first match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador.
The Qatari state media said the UN secretary-general António Guterres and Algeria’s president arrived on Saturday.
Onstage, the South Korean singer Jungkook, of K-pop boy band BTS performed a new official tournament song called Dreamers alongside Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi.
The smallest nation to hold soccer’s biggest global event, Qatar, a wealthy gas producer, aims to bolster its credentials as a global player, and display strength to rivals in the region.
As some visitors savoured their first sips of beer at the launch of the FIFA Fan Festival on Saturday in central Doha, hundreds of workers, all men, gathered in a sports arena in an industrial zone on the city’s edges where no alcohol was being served. They will be able to watch matches there.
Crowd control will be key with some 1.2 million visitors expected to visit, more than a third of Qatar’s population, a majority of whom are foreign workers.
Labourers were putting final touches on outdoor gardens and sidewalks on Saturday and carting construction material to a site near the National Museum, where dozens of people, including fans in Argentina jerseys, milled about.
Qatar has seen a construction frenzy fueled by the gas wealth that has changed the face of Doha in the run-up to the tournament, the most expensive World Cup in history organised at a cost of $220 billion.
In the renovated Msheireb area, now home to high-end shops, some not yet open, and hipster coffee shops, clusters of men in thobes, the Qatari national dress, walked by singing and chanting.
As there is a limited number of hotels within Qatar, fans will also be flying in on daily shuttle flights from neighbouring cities like Dubai.
“When we came in it was like a bit of a work site,” England fan Neil Gahan said in an area in Doha housing fan portacabins.
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