November’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar – a first in the Middle East – will provide Iran with “an economic opportunity”, according to American business magazine Forbes.
Iran will be among the 32 national teams participating at the showdown – which vies with the Olympics for the title of the world’s biggest sporting event – looking to progress beyond the group stage at the sixth time of asking.
Around 1.5 million people are expected to descend on the small Persian Gulf state, the magazine wrote in an article published on Friday, adding: “Iran is hoping that some of these fans will either use nearby Iranian islands as a base or add a side trip to Iran while they’re in the region.”
Forbes wrote Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi has set up a group to oversee cooperation among government bodies trying to make the most of the opportunity and has said “Iran is ready to provide Qatar with whatever assistance and help it needs.”
“We are now planning to create the grounds for foreign fans and tourists to travel to Iran during their leisure times to visit our country’s attractions as well,” Forbes quoted Iranian Roads Minister Rostam Qassemi as saying in April.
Forbes added that a passenger ship has been bought from France, ready to ferry up to 1,700 passengers at a time between Qatar and Iran.
“One area hoping for more visitors is the island of Kish, which lies just 40 minutes from Qatar by plane, or six hours by boat,” Forbes wrote.
“Iran has also talked about offering free visas on arrival to anyone visiting Qatar for the World Cup who adds on a trip to the Islamic Republic,” added the magazine.
Iran has been pitted in Group B of the World Cup, alongside England, USA, and one of Wales, Scotland, or Ukraine, which will battle it out for the final slot in June.
Iran will kick off its campaign in Qatar against England at Al Rayyan’s Khalifa International Stadium on November 21.
Iran will have to wait until June to learn which European opponent it will face on November 25 when the winner of the match between Scotland and Ukraine plays Wales in Cardiff.
Dragan Skocic’s men will then take on USA on November 29.