"I am a big supporter of the Egyptian team and also England," Ahmed told Sputnik. Residing and working in Dubai, Ahmed and four of his friend are actively organizing their journey to Russia.
"We started by booking the tickets first on November 16th, 2017 on the FIFA website. We made the second booking in March 2018. Then we applied for the FAN ID so we can go through the immigration border and we recently got it successfully in Dubai. Then we booked the flights and the hotel," he told Sputnik.
A FAN ID is a document that fans must have in order to get access to stadiums and attend the matches. The FAN ID grants a visa-free entry to Russia for the games' ticket holders June 4 to July 25 and also offers free public transport on game days.
"It took two weeks to get the fan ID, after I applied for it at the Russian embassy in Dubai. When it was ready, I got an SMS that the ID was ready to be collected. It only took ten minutes to collect it. People at the embassy were very nice and gave me some advice as well."
Many of Ahmed's contacts and friends from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arabic countries are planning to attend the World Cup.
An Adventure to Remember
During his two-week stay in Russia, Ahmed's group will visit four cities.
"I am going to attend the game Egypt v Russia on June 19 in St. Petersburg. We will travel to Moscow on June 21, where we will explore the capital for several days. We are going to Volgograd after that for the game of Egypt v Saudi Arabia. After that we are going to Kaliningrad to see England play against Belgium."
"Most of the flights and trains are fully booked now. My best option would be to drive with my friend."
Ahmed is flying with Aeroflot to Moscow and then catching another flight to St. Petersburg. In what he calls "an adventure" he plans to rent a 4-5-seater van and drive from Moscow to Volgograd.
Ahmed uses different applications to plan his trip, such as Skyscanner for booking flights and tutu.ru for train bookings inside Russia. After making all the bookings for himself and some for his friends, Ahmed created an Excel spreadsheet with the details of the trip "to make it more accurate."
"Anyone of us can add to it and update it with new bookings. We also have a common Whatsapp chat to share any inquiries about bookings, photographs and tips about the trip. It makes it much easier and is a lot of fun!" he told Sputnik.
World Cup Fashion
"Since I decided to go to the World Cup and made the first bookings, I created this hashtag #WorldCupshopping and I'm posting photos of the sportswear I'm planning to wear to the games. I have jackets with red, black and white colors for the Egyptian flag and also for England, as well as sports shoes to match. I'm trying to look my best for the games," Ahmed told Sputnik.
Group A of the 2018 World Cup includes Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. Ahmed predicts that Uruguay will qualify for the next round in the first place and hopes that Egypt will make it out of the group stage as well.
"The Uruguayan team have the best strikers Luis Suarez, who plays for Barcelona, and Edinson Cavani, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain. I have two predictions of the winner. Spain has a great team, they are amazing. Secondly, it is Brazil with players like Neymar, Coutinho and Marcelo. My third guess would be Germany."
Mo Salah, Amr Diab & the Red Square
Ahmed also shared his "non-football" plans, while visiting the Russian capital.
"My friends from London and Dubai will be in Russia and have already planned our free time, outside the football schedule. My hotel is located near the Kremlin and for sure I would like to see Red Square."
Being a keen photographer he plans to shoot the landscapes, palaces, and streets of St. Petersburg. Ahmed and his friends are also looking forward to attending the concert of the Egyptian singer Amr Diab, which will take place in St. Petersburg on June 18 in support of the Egyptian national football team in the championship.
Ahmed is hoping to photograph the Egyptian player Mo Salah, who has been named in 2018 the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.
"Mo Salah is training in Liverpool in England. He also won the Premier League Golden Boot award this year. Last year I flew all the way from Dubai to Rome to attend his game. We have big hopes for this guy. I am planning to have a chance to photograph him in Russia, as I am planning to meet him there."
Golden Boot? Come here to daddy 😂 pic.twitter.com/GasYbIerEm— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) May 13, 2018
Finally, Ahmed told Sputnik he is looking forward to trying Russian food during his visit. "It will be only Russian food for the whole trip," he said.
It's About the Game
Speaking about safety measures during his visit, Ahmed told Sputnik that FIFA wouldn't accept any bids to host the championship from a country that's not ready to do so.
"Russia is qualified for this a hundred percent. Every big country has its risks, but I hope it will be safe and it will be a nice trip. We haven't qualified for the World Cup since 1990, so we have been waiting for this moment for 28 years. We are very excited about this. This competition is the best one for football. It is not about violence or clashes between the fans — it is about the game."
When asked what his advice would be to the fans planning their journeys to Russia this summer, Ahmed said:
"Get your good friends and make this trip together. Don't go anywhere without a plan, so that you know where to go and what to see; and enjoy it to the maximum!"