The high-ranking Qatari official has played a major role in Qatar being on course to be operational-ready for the 2022 World Cup….
In many ways, overcoming challenges is nothing new for Qatar and it’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organisation responsible for delivering the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
From the moment they won the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup, there have been difficulties that they have had to wade through to get his far. While one could categorize most of them as foreseen challenges, an unforeseen one came in the form a pandemic in 2020.
It was no small obstacle, with the entire world grinding down to a semi-halt in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, sporting calendars gone for a toss and sporting events cancelled or postponed. But Qatar showed resilience to navigate a crippling pandemic and be on course meet deadlines for the 2022 World Cup. They have already unveiled four of the eight venues for the global showpiece and most of the work is completed on the rest. The remaining venues are set to be presented to the world towards the end of this year and early next year.
And the infrastructural readiness have already been put to test with tournaments such as the Club World Cup, AFC Champions League and more. In November and December, Qatar will host a 16-team tournament, the Arab Cup, as a pre-cursor to the 2022 World Cup. It will feature six venues and will be a test of Qatar’s readiness for the global event a year later.
Qatar are counting down milestones for the 2022 World Cup and the SC leadership have driven the country’s efforts towards the same. One pioneering figure who has played a big part in driving the SC’s endeavours is Fatma Al Nuaimi, the Executive Communications Director of the organisation. She has been a key figure around the World Cup projects and Qatar’s efforts to cater for fans from all over the world.
Al Nuaimi explained how Qatar improvised during the pandemic to ensure the World Cup projects did not suffer. Interestingly, Qatar unveiled a World Cup venue – the Education City stadium – during the pandemic with the ceremony converted into a digital one where they paid tribute to frontline health workers during the pandemic.
“Despite the world being hit by Covid-19, in the beginning, just like any other businesses, it took us by surprise. But we have actually managed to be on track for the World Cup. The inauguration of Education City stadium, we transformed it into a digital inauguration and we have actually attributed the stadium to the frontline workers around the world for the work they have done,” she told Goal.
“We are also going to have the ‘one year to go’ milestone on November 21 where we are going to be celebrating some of the upcoming promotional milestones down the line. During this period, we have learnt a lot when it comes to hosting football matches during a pandemic. Qatar hosted the AFC Champions League (the East and the West zone matches) to assure that football can continue.”
Football can continue, with fans, is definitely the message Qatar are sending out and the inaugural 16-team Arab Cup, set to be held later this year is very important. Al Nuaimi explains how the Arab Cup, replacing the traditional eight-team Confederations Cup, will give a taste of the World Cup to many teams and fans across the world. And more importantly for Al Nuaimi and the SC, it will be an early proof of the work they have put in over the years towards ‘delivering amazing’ for the 2022 World Cup.
“There are upcoming milestones that we are having. We have the Arab Cup which we call it as the test event. Looking at the magnitude of it, it is actually replacing the Confederation Cup. There will be 16 teams and all the Arab nations are very excited and want to be a part of this. The first Arab compeition that is being recognised by FIFA and also this is the first World Cup in the Middle-East.”
While there is excitement over the Arab Cup in the region, an inclusive feeling among all their regional neighbours is something Al Nuaimi and the SC want to inculcate.
“It is giving an opportunity to a lot of Arab nations to come and get the experience of a World Cup. Even if some nations did not qualify for the World Cup, at least they get a chance to play in a World Cup environment and get the whole experience. It also shows our infrastructural progression. We already have 90 per cent of readiness. By the end of this year, we are going to have three new World Cup stadiums inaugurated and they will be tested at the Arab Cup.”
And it’s not just regional inclusivity that Al Nuaimi has on her agenda. The high-ranking SC official wants to make sure that the Qatari hospitality extends to each and every fan who wants to experience the World Cup, including from countries like India, China etc that tradiitonally do not qualify for the World Cup. Qatar, which has good flight connectivity to almost all corners of the globe is the perfect destination for football fans to come and enjoy a World Cup, she feels.
“The geographical location of Qatar is favourable. We can tap into millions of people. Qatar Airways is a FIFA partner and they have direct flights to a lot of destinations. I think this will facilitate a lot of fans even if their nation don’t qualify.
“Qatar is a part of Asia and Qatar Airways is operating in a lot of destinations, I am confident that there might be even new markets from fans will come. For example, India and China and Turkey, North Africa etc. We have counted that in our plans and we hope to excite them to plan their trips to Qatar.”
Given that the 2022 World Cup might be one of the very first global event to be held in the presence of fans since the pandemic began, the interest in it could be huge and proportionally challenging for the organisers. But with resourceful leaders, it is a challenge that the SC will take head on.