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Hassan Al Thawadi on the 2022 Qatar World Cup - The 'Middle-East' experience will be a celebration of differences and similarities

01:27 GMT 21/11/2020
Al Thawadi has urged fans across the world to visit Qatar and experience the rich cultural heritage of the Arab region…

In exactly two years from now, the 2022 World Cup will kick-off at the Al Bayt Stadium with hosts Qatar in action. It’s been close to 10 years since the Middle East nation won the hosting rights of the 2022 World Cup by beating the likes of Australia, South Korea, Japan and the United States.

One of the key themes was to use the World Cup as a platform to improve or upgrade the understanding of the Middle-East a region. It was an opportunity to showcase their rich cultural heritage, the hospitality of the people and most importantly, improve relations between the Arabic region and the rest of the world which would in turn create innumerable opportunities for economic and social growth.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the Secretary-General of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy – the organization responsible for delivering the World Cup in 2022, stated that Qatar is leaving no stone unturned to extract the maximum benefit from hosting the greatest football extravaganza on earth.

“I think every day, it gains more significance in terms of meaning than the day before and it confirms what the World Cup always meant for us. It was first and foremost the embodiment of the passion for football and sports. Over the years it also shows how we are looking to extract the most amount of benefits from this tournament. This is not just a football tournament, this is one milestone for our country and region's story. We are trying to utilise it to the maximum benefit possible that should leave a lasting legacy beyond the tournament.

“It is an opportunity for us from which we are making the most. It is also a celebration of our culture, heritage and who we are. It is also an opportunity to celebrate our hospitality with the rest of the world. Now more than ever, with especially what Covid has done to the world, it is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate a common humanity.”

Al Thawadi highlighted the importance of human relationships and bonding and called for fans to shun the stereotypes they have been fed through the ages about people in the Middle East. Most importantly, he mentioned that the World Cup is a chance for the world to get to know the Arab region better and in the process, celebrate the differences and enjoy the similarities while watching their favourite sport.

“I hope the people who have participated here, the people who contributed to delivering the World Cup and the people of the region can look at it as a platform that would launch them into bigger and better things in their lives. Maybe, an entrepreneur looked at it as an opportunity that made his/her company grow into a great success. People who have participated here have created bonds and relationships forever.

“For the fans, it will be a moment of bonding and celebration. They should be able to look at these memories with great joy. They should experience the Middle East, who we are in our entirety, as people. Forgetting what they see in the news and the stereotypes that have unfortunately been embedded in people's minds. An opportunity for them to actually see us as a people. Very, very similar in many ways and different in other ways. But celebrate the differences and enjoy the similarities.”

With FIFA scrapping its plan for the Confederations Cup which acted as a precursor to the World Cup in a host nation, Qatar would instead host the Arab Cup towards the end of next year. Al Thawadi once again pointed that the 2022 World Cup is a moment of celebration for the entire Arab world as opposed to just a historical event for Qatar.

“This is a regional World Cup. If you look at the number of volunteers that have signed up and interested people in terms of attending events. By the end of 2021, we will be hosting the Arab Cup. All the Arab countries are participating. If you look at the Gulf Cup that we hosted last year and the Club World Cup, the amount of interest it generated amongst the fans and volunteers you can see that the people are yearning for the event. We continue to work to embrace the people of the region. The tournament is being held in Qatar, but it is first and foremost a regional tournament.”

Back in 2015, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), came up with a unique concept of ‘Challenge 22’ which is an innovation award challenging the creative and technological minds to find solutions in certain sectors which have been identified as ‘challenging’ by the organizers. The response has been encouraging and Al Thawadi believes that the World Cup will go a long way in showcasing the Arab world in positive light, a region with a lot of talent and capability.

“The most important aspect is showcasing the culture and heritage. Showcasing the capabilities and talent of the region in terms of delivering such an event at a global scale. We have launched a number of initiatives within the region like Challenge 22. There we tried to utilise entrepreneurs and businesses from within the region to deliver some services required in the World Cup and hopefully, again that would showcase the capabilities of the companies that are available within the region.

“I think ultimately it will show us as hospitable people, capable people, and people those who have set their minds on one thing can achieve it.”

Qatar has faced numerous challenges since they won the bid. From doubting the entire bidding process to workers welfare to climate issues to sustainability problems to footballing calendar and so on. However, it’s fair to state that the country has emerged for the better from each of these challenges and their resilience has been the quality which as shone the most.

“With 100 per cent certainty we can say that whatever challenge we face we can overcome it with resourcefulness, resilience. We will use that challenge as an opportunity as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. We have been waiting for 10 years, two more years to go and we are waiting eagerly to host you in Qatar. This is your World Cup, this is your time, this is your celebration, please come on over.”

The 2022 World Cup is set to be a 'one-of-a-kind' event, thanks to the awe-inspiring stadium designs and cutting edge technology being employed. Hassan Al Thawadi's confidence seems to be well placed and justifies the tagline of the event - 'Deliver Amazing'.