The range of services and facilities in place to ensure connectivity and mobility for specially-abled fans from across the world at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is winning praise for the country, especially for making the mega tournament an inclusive event.
“I am able to explore Qatar by enjoying the matches and tourist destinations. I can do things on my own. Qatar’s transport network is fully equipped to meet the requirements of fans like me,” Hassan Ameera, a football fan from Jordan told Gulf Times. He has so far attended five matches while using metro, buses and taxis to reach his destinations.
When Ameera was planning the trip to Doha, he was told that the most accessible World Cup edition awaits him in Qatar where all facilities are provided for specially-abled fans.
“My experience in Qatar testifies the claims by the organisers. The buses are accessibility-friendly while the metro is easily accessible with lifts everywhere. I faced no challenge while travelling and accessing the stadiums,” he said.
In an ideal atmosphere suitable for children with autism and neurobehavioural disorders, the World Cup stadiums are equipped with sensory rooms for people with intellectual disabilities. These help the children enjoy the matches in a safe space equipped with all advanced tools and devices.
The stadium lobby is equipped with the latest assistive technology and educational and rehabilitation equipment. Besides, the facilities help blind and partially sighted fans listen to audio descriptive commentary in Arabic at World Cup matches. The service is accessible through a mobile application and available at all eight stadiums.
Aasim Velimanna, a specially-abled football fan from India, narrated a similar tale of a great experience while attending the matches and travelling to the stadiums.
“Inside and outside the stadiums, we were assisted by trained volunteers. Also, we were given rides from the stadium to the metro station,” said Asim’s father Saeed Yamani, adding that toilets are accessible while the staff and volunteers helpful.
Parking was convenient and accessible, he had designated wheelchair seating with his son, and accessibility to the seat was also seamless. Mowasalat (Karwa) has provided a new fleet of wheelchair accessible taxis to expand the volume and availability of travel options for passengers with disabilities and limited mobility. These taxis have a dedicated drop-off point close to stadium entrances.
Doha Metro has level access boarding with dedicated seating for people with limited mobility and spaces for wheelchair users. The shuttle buses have accessibility features and Mowaslat has a fleet of low-floor buses with ramped access for wheelchair users and wheelchair space inside.