DOHA, Nov 1 (Reuters) – A gleaming white World Cup stadium looms at the end of a road in the quiet suburban neighborhood of Al Thumama.
Over three weeks, thousands of soccer fans will pass through the neat villas, mosques and shops that line the stadium as eight matches are held during the tournament.
On Tuesday, the quarter was gearing up for the Nov. 20 kickoff of the World Cup: crowd control barriers on sidewalks, portable toilets next to homes and increased home security.
“We have to be careful. We have to secure our homes… All year round we keep our doors open. So a month from now, well, we’ll close them,” resident Ahmed Al Kuwari said.
Qataris, used to living in one of the world’s safest states, are increasingly concerned about potential vandalism, theft and unruly behavior as some 1.2 million visitors flock to the small nation of 3 million.
“Curiosity could rise and people might wander into the villa…anything could happen,” said Sara Al Ansari, a Qatari lecturer whose family and friends have installed security cameras, worried about their valuables.
Other changes were seen in the capital Doha on Tuesday when temporary measures for the World Cup came into effect that altered the flow of traffic in and around the city.
A major thoroughfare along the seafront corniche is closed and will remain closed until the end of the competition on December 18. Workers are converting it into a 6km (3.73 mi) long fan zone.
Traffic flow will be particularly critical during the group stage of the event, when four matches will be played each day in stadiums around Doha. The organisers, in keeping with the promise of an unprecedented World Cup, fans can take in multiple games on the same day.
The government ordered 80% of its employees to start working from home from Tuesday in an effort to reduce cars on the roads. Schools will cut hours for the next two weeks before shutting down the entire tournament, much to the chagrin of working parents.
“The kids would just be having a party and driving us crazy,” said a Qatar-based parenting blogger.
“It’s definitely going to be challenging, especially for families with both parents working,” added the blogger, opting to remain anonymous to avoid any risk of spreading frustration.
Reporting and writing by Andrew Mills, editing by Ed Osmond
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