Middle of nowhere: Desert complex makes World Cup affordable for some

AL WAKRAH, Qatar, Nov 29 (Reuters) - For tens of thousands of World Cup fans, home base in Qatar is a concrete complex on the edge of the desert, next to a slaughterhouse and a set of high-voltage electrical wires.

Barwa Barahat al Janoub, a two-hour metro and bus journey from the farthest stadiums, lies in stark contrast to the glitzy opening ceremony put on by the wealthy Gulf state but, at $84 a night, it's the most affordable accommodation in Qatar.

The new complex, which features 1,404 clusters of three-storey buildings laid out in a grid of narrow streets, was designed to house some 67,000 low-income workers - a group that makes up the majority of Qatar's 3 million population - who are expected to move in some time after the World Cup.

"You get what you pay (for) and we pay very little," Emiliano Carrascal from Argentina said as he sat on the sidewalk tucking into a plate of biryani from a restaurant newly-opened to cater for the influx of visitors.

Carrascal and his neighbours opted to stay "in the middle of nowhere" to be able to support their teams in person given sky-high prices in Qatar, the first Middle East nation to host soccer's biggest global event.

Prefabricated cabins closer to Doha go for $200 per night while rooms in a shared apartment are advertised on Airbnb (ABNB.O) for $500 and some cruise ship cabins cost several thousand dollars.

Rooms at Barwa Barahat are basic - steel bed frames, metal lockers, fluorescent lights, bare walls and tile floors.

Soccer-themed murals decorate some walls and a patch of astroturf lies beside a temporary supermarket where residents gather to watch matches on a big screen.

"I made many sacrifices to come here. I was saving money since like the last two years," said Sandipan Bhowmick from India, who is attending his first World Cup.

Splitting the nightly fee with a roommate from Britain, Bhowmich said he can afford to stay for 18 nights. They share a small kitchenette with Spanish fans.

Sombrero-toting Mexicans, flag-draped Moroccans and a group of Brazilians singing "Ole, Ole, Ole" emerge from buses and taxis.

Fans say the atmosphere is cordial even among those from rival countries but that the party scene is muted given the closest venue serving alcohol is 40 minutes away by bus.

"Technically, you cannot bring (alcohol) in from the outside but a lot of people (are) doing that," said Agustin from Buenos Aires, who said he had no idea how they were doing so.

Reporting by Andrew Mills and Charlotte Bruneau; Writing by Andrew Mills; Editing by Conor Humphries

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