Saudi fans catch football travel fever for Russia World Cup


DUBAI — Saudi football fans are gearing up to support their team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, according to top-ranked travel search website and mobile app Wego.

In the first month following the announcement of the World Cup 2018 opener between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, searches on Wego ( for flights from Saudi Arabia to Moscow jumped 185 percent on the region’s leading travel comparison site.

Fares to three Russian cities led the Saudi search numbers for December 2017, in keeping with the FIFA group stage schedule: Saudi Arabia will play hosts Russia in Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, on June 14; Uruguay on June 20 at Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don; and Egypt on June 25 at Volgograd Arena in the city of Volgograd. The four countries comprise Group A for this year’s World Cup finals.

Not only did most airfare searches from Saudi residents using Wego center on these Russian cities; website analytics showed a 400 percent jump for hotel searches in Moscow for the period around the World Cup opener.

Mamoun Hmedan, Wego managing director for MENA and India, said the uptick in interest is not surprising given the Saudi love for football and the nation’s first appearance in the FIFA World Cup finals since 2006.

“The world's greatest sporting event is the ideal time to visit the vast and fascinating host countries while they are in celebration mode,” he said. “Russia promises to be a unique continuation of this World Cup tradition, with an outstanding organization and a great atmosphere in the stadiums. The matches will be played in some superb cities, and Saudi football fans can watch games and sightsee based on packages provided by Wego partners”.

“My tip to all fans is to hurry up and book flights and accommodations now, as all stages been announced. We predict a hike in prices the closer we get to the date,” he added.

The Saudi-based fans and Wego users will have every opportunity to enjoy amazing offers and packages from various Wego partners online.

“There are already exceptional World Cup travel packages, lodging accommodations and hospitality to tournament destinations, especially St. Petersburg and Moscow. All travel packages can be customized to suit your travel dates and budget. However, fans will have to get ‘fan ID’ status first to enjoy these packages, a very easy step when match tickets are purchased,” Hmedan said.