A billion people around the globe will watch the Fifa World Cup 2014, which runs from 12 June – 13 July. If you’re one of the millions of people in the UAE trying to compare the highly confusing TV package costs so you can watch  the World Cup at home, or want to know the best venues in Dubai or Abu Dhabi to watch your team play – whether with or without shisha, iftar or suhour – and how much you’ll need to fork out for that, you’re in the right place. Read on to find out how to get your share of World Cup action.

FIFA World Cup 2014

You can watch the World Cup either through your current TV provider (Du/ Etisalat) or directly through beIN Sports, which owns the broadcasting rights for the Middle East and Africa. We compared the costs to help you decide which one is best for you.

Table 1: UAE World Cup TV packages

Provider Best for…? Cost Description Contact
Du – FIFA World Cup 2014 Existing customers AED 440 One-time charge (for World Cup channels only) on top of your current package. Channels disappear at end of World Cup du or 043905555
Etisalat – eLife TV Existing customers AED 450 One-time charge (for World Cup channels only) on top of your current package. Channels disappear at end of World Cup Etisalat or 800101
Etisalat – eLife Sports/ Premium New customers AED 499/ 999 Subscribe to eLife Sports or eLife Premium for 12 months and get the World Cup channels. Monthly cost for eLife Sports is AED 499 and AED 999 for eLife Premium. Penalty for early cancellation Etisalat or 800101
beIN Sports OSN subscribers and dish owners AED 570/ 1,018 The 12-month package costs AED 1,018 and three-month package AED 570. You have to buy a set-top box for the TV at an additional cost, which varies depending on the place of purchase. Existing customer charges will be calculated based on the remaining period of their subscription beIN Sports

Sources: Etisalat, Du, beIN Sports

Keep in mind:

  • If you have a satellite dish, or are in an area where you are allowed to get one (such as a villa) you can subscribe to beIN Sports at a minimum cost of AED 570 for three months – and you’ll get to keep all 15 sports channels after the World Cup is over
  • If you’re in an area where you cannot have a dish (such as a freezone apartment block) and must subscribe to the telecom provider for your area, the minimum charge is AED 440 – 450 for the duration of the World Cup only and for five (Du) or seven (Etisalat) World Cup channels only.
  • Etisalat also has a deal to get you subscribing to all of its sports channels for 12 months, including the World Cup channels.
  • Du, Etisalat and BeIN Sports all have four languages – English, Arabic, French and Spanish.

UAE residents can also watch the games at a variety of venues, specially set up for the Fifa World Cup. We’ve picked out the top places to go in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for you while enjoying shisha, food and drinks, including iftar and suhour, with a comparison of entry fees and minimum spend required.

Table 2a: Venues to watch the World Cup (costs, no. screens/ seats)

Venue Description Min spend/ entry per person (AED) No. screens How many seats? Emirate
Majlis, Dubai World Trade Centre Multiple screens, serves traditional Arabic cuisine, iftar, suhour, shisha 140 Unknown 1,000+ Dubai
World Cup Theatre, Emirates Golf Club Variety of games, competitions and PlayStation tournament, food and drink 75 Two large screens, 21 TVs N/A Dubai
Zero Gravity, Skydive Dubai Drop Zone Decorated to represent the host country, Brazil. Food, drink, shisha, iftar 100 One HD, multiple TVs N/A Dubai
Qube, Meydan Sports bar with billiards and Brazilian food. Licensed, serves iftar and suhour but no shisha 100 Four large screens, 16 TVs 200+ Dubai
Barasti Beach Stadium, Le meridien mina seyah Air-conditioned stadium with food but no iftar or suhour. Free One large 12x6m screen 1200
Du Forum, Yas Island Arena with separate area for ladies and families Free One large LED, multiple TVs 500+ Abu Dhabi
World Cup Tent, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Air-conditioned tent with competitions, shisha, suhour 100/ 1,500 (5+) One big screen, 12 TVs 600+ Abu Dhabi
Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri Air-conditioned tent with shisha, competitions. Food but not iftar or suhour 85 Two large screens, multiple TVs 200+ Abu Dhabi

Table 2b: Venues to watch the World Cup (food and drink)

Venue Licensed Shisha Food Iftar Suhour 21+ Contact
Majlis, Dubai World Trade Centre No Yes Yes Yes Yes No 04 308 6322
World Cup Theatre, Emirates Golf Club Yes No Yes No No No 04-4179999
Zero Gravity, Skydive Dubai Drop Zone Yes Yes Yes Yes No unknown 04 399 0009
Qube, Meydan Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 04 381 3780
Barasti Beach Stadium, Le meridien mina seyah Yes No Yes No No Yes 04 399 3333
Du Forum Yas Island No Yes Yes Yes Yes No 050 905 5580
World Cup Tent, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Yes Yes Yes No Yes No 02 654 3238
Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri Yes Yes Yes No No Yes 02 509 8888

Sources: Time Out, Gulf NewsAbu Dhabi Week

Things to watch out for:

  • Iftar and suhour: If you are fasting during Ramadan, look for places with iftar and suhour options – we list them above
  • Screens: The number of screens and where they are is important. You don’t want to be stuck in corners of huge venues with multiple small TVs and not enough big ones. So keep an eye out for the size of the venue, number of seats and number of screens, both big and small
  • Minimum spend: Minimum spend can end up being cheaper if you share the cost with other people by booking tables
  • Vouchers: Even though they can be costly as an initial outlay, with vouchers you have the option of using leftovers next time – but of course, there has to be a next time. You could even swap them with other people going to the same place another time
  • Age limit: Certain venues such as Barasti and Qube won’t allow people who are under the age of 21 – they’re listed above

Planning on staying at home and watching the games? Get in to the spirit of the Fifa World Cup by investing in to some decorations for your living room. Buy football-themed bean bags from Ace Hardware, printed with flags of your favorite team, or head down to Mr Ben’s for football costumes and props. Petrol stations across the UAE have also stocked up on various football accessories, such as sunglasses decorated with different national flags.

[Also read: Football credit cards for die-hard UAE fans]