By Ben Church, CNN
It’s been dubbed the ‘Arabian Riviera,’ where the streets are immaculate and are interspersed with luxury hotels offering shimmering views across the marina. Welcome to ‘The Pearl.’
Work on this artificial island — now one of Doha’s most exclusive areas — started in 2004 and was named after the traditional practice of pearl diving which was a dominant industry in the area before the discovery of oil.
People dressed in designer clothing walk their chi-chi dogs along the promenade while others relax on man-made beaches which sit near to a harbor resplendent with shining yachts.
Many of the boats have a permanent mooring in the area but some have arrived to provide luxurious accommodation to soccer fans looking for the ultimate World Cup experience
The Saluzi, notable for the striking graffiti style design adorning its side, is one such superyacht.
It arrived in Doha on November 24 and its army of 35 staff was busy getting ready for their first, confidential, booking of the tournament as CNN was invited on board for a tour.
A stay on the Saluzi costs nearly $500,000 per week and as soon as you step on board, you are enveloped by luxury.
Guests are invited to swap their shoes for white fluffy slippers and are greeted with a drink by the immaculately dressed staff who are on hand to tend to clients and ensure they’re happy.
From jacuzzis to self-playing pianos, this is a floating space with three floors to sleep, play and work across.
Many of the outdoor areas have hot tubs and guests can even play golf at the back of the boat — there is pitching green for keen golfers, which comes complete with decomposing balls that turn into fish food when they hit the water.
There are also diving instructors, swimming pools and poker tables — you’ll never be bored on the Saluzi.
“We can accommodate 32 guests but we are rarely full,” the Saluzi’s captain Asparuh Chorbadzhiev told CNN.
“When the people like privacy, they may only use one or two cabins, but they can also bring with them a lot of supporting staff.”
Chorbadzhiev, who has been working and living at sea for almost 40 years, won’t reveal who will be staying on the boat during Qatar 2022 but said his guests are often celebrities or very wealthy business people.
The captain is clearly proud of the ‘Saluzi’ and was keen to show off its many hidden secrets; from its novelty lamps which guests turn on and off with a remote control device, which is shaped like a gun, to the artwork which adorns the entrance walls.
The distinctive paintings inside the yacht match the imagery on the outside. All the designs are inspired by the yacht’s name, which is derived from the legendary Chinese war horse.
From golf to poker tables
A fully equipped gym sits opposite a luxury spa, complete with a massage bed which has the ability to drip wine on your body as you relax. This yacht even has a hair salon.
A total of 16 cabins are available on the Saluzi, with its VIP rooms equipped with a balcony. There is also a study, a cinema room and an area for gastronomic dining. The boat has also been known to host karaoke parties, according to Chorbadzhiev.
All the meals are prepared by the crew. The yacht is also spotlessly clean. You leave one room and a team of people suddenly appears to rearrange it back to its pristine condition.
“It’s a global yacht. It’s usually in the Mediterranean every summer,” Chorbadzhiev said.
“Then, in the winter, we can go to the Far East or places including the Seychelles, Maldives, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong or in the Gulf region like here.”
The yacht had recently been in Abu Dhabi for the Formula One grand prix, but was delayed in getting to Qatar due to reams of paperwork needed to obtain a visa to enter the country, according to Chorbadzhiev.
Superyachts vs. tents vs. portacabins
While moored in Abu Dhabi for the grand prix, the yacht played hosted people watching the race from its decks which looked over a portion of the track.
Now in Doha, guests can organize limousines ferrying them to World Cup stadiums for the tournament’s games. Guests can also request to take the yacht out of the marina to view the city from afar.
According to BOAT Pro’s Global Fleet Tracker, more than 20 superyachts have entered Qatari waters since the start of the tournament, including vessels such as Al Lusail and Alaiya, which are moored around Doha.
A superyacht World Cup stay offers something very different from some of the other accommodation available to guests in the city during the tournament.
From tents in the desert to portacabins on the edge of Doha, World Cup organizers have had to be innovative in providing accommodation options to fans with the influx of an estimated 1.5 million people staying in a nation smaller than Connecticut.
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