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.
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
|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|
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)
|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|
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]