"All the stadiums in Qatar will be ready by 2021"

Hassan Al Thawadi, general secretary of Qatar 2022, reviews in an interview at www.sc.qa the preparations for the World Cup when there are less than three years left.

-How are the preparations for Qatar 2022 going and when will all the stadiums be ready? -The preparations for Qatar 2022 are going very well. We already have two operational stages and at the end of the first half of next year, we will have three more completed and operational stages. By the end of 2021, our eight stadiums will have been inaugurated, tested and ready for the World Cup. All infrastructure work is being completed as planned. The metro system is being tested or in service and will be operational by the end of this year. The entire network will be ready in the first half of next year.

-Soon there are two tournaments: the Gulf Cup and the Club World Cup. How will these events contribute to the preparations for Qatar 2022? -The Gulf Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup are great opportunities that will serve as rehearsals for 2022. First, they are helping us in the management of visitors, the communication, the experience of the fans and the identification of the areas where we can improve. We want to welcome the fans and also communicate with them and get their comments about their experience. In addition, our infrastructure is being tested, on a smaller scale, in preparation for the World Cup event. Next year we have another Club World Cup, and in 2021 we are looking for another event in preparation for 2022.

-What can fans expect from Qatar to travel to these tournaments? -Fans can expect sun, beach, entertainment and hospitality. In November and December, we have good weather and visitors can enjoy cultural events, concerts, desert safaris and the beach.

- What do you think will be the legacy of Qatar 2022 for the country, the region and the world? First, we are looking to build bridges. Today there is no other platform in the world that brings people like football together, and in particular the World Cup, where people on a human level can build a very close relationship, they can get rid of stereotypes, they can appreciate the differences among us in terms of culture and origins, while they can meet as human beings and also as soccer fans. We are working hard to ensure that this tournament leaves an economic and social benefit in Qatar and the region. The World Cup has already contributed to the development of many industries in Qatar, some of them related to environmental sustainability and hospitality. For example, we are building an 800MW solar farm thanks to the World Cup. On a social level, there is the Amazing Generation, which uses football for the development of leadership, life and communication skills in people residing in disadvantaged areas, both in Qatar and in other countries. Of course, one of the most visible legacies are the reforms concerning the welfare of workers. The SC has achieved very important achievements in this area, in particular when it comes to the reimbursement of hiring fees.

-Do you think it is important for people to see Qatar for themselves? -I think the World Cup offers a unique opportunity for the country and the host region to receive people from different parts of the world and appreciate their culture. Thus they can break the stereotypes and ideas they had previously. Undoubtedly, people have a predetermined concept of the Middle East, the Arab world and Qatar. When in reality, as people, we are like everyone else. We have a great sense of humor, we are very hospitable and we are passionate about football. And once we discover what we have in common, I think we begin to appreciate that the differences are what enrich us as human beings. And that is what we want to invest in and what we want to exploit in 2022.

-What is your message for fans around the world who are already thinking of traveling to Qatar in 2022? -To the millions of fans who want to come to Qatar in 2022 I say: welcome to Qatar, welcome to the Middle East. We are delighted to welcome you, we are delighted to welcome you and that together we celebrate the best sport in the world in the biggest event in the world.

Photos from as.com
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