Many fans wrongly believe Qatar has the same draconian social restrictions of Saudi Arabia, or the violence that plagues Afghanistan and Iraq.
Still, this country of 1.6 million is no Paris or Rio or even neighboring Dubai - and Qataris seem to want to keep it that way.
Drinking and dancing is limited to the handful of raucous bars and nightclubs in four- and five-star hotels, public affection is usually tolerated but occasionally punished, while bikini-clad swimmers only began appearing on beaches two years ago. Most understand, though, that the country will have to open up further with the World Cup coming and find a balance between the modern and traditional. Organizers, for example, have already promised to allow drinking in designated fan zones.
Ruled by the Al Thani family with no opposition, Qatar will definitely make good on its commitment to spend $42.9 billion on infrastructure upgrades and $4 billion to build nine stadiums and renovate three others.