The State of Qatar is hosting the world’s biggest football event–FIFA World Cup 2022–starting from November 20. The first ever Muslim and Arabian country to host the biggest footballing event, Qatar has projected the mega event as an opportunity for a real investment in promoting mutual understanding, peace, stability, and prosperity and as a major driver of positive changes in the field of human rights and sports. However, there have also been criticisms over the treatment of foreign migrant workers. In this context, Nepal Live Today reached out to Yousuf bin Mohammed Al-Hail, the ambassador of the State of Qatar to Nepal, to discuss the preparations and various other concerns related to the FIFA World Cup 2022. Excerpts:
Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022 in November. What are the preparations?
Right after Qatar was awarded the right to host the 2022 tournament in December 2010, Qatar started to make preparations for this global event. In 2011, Qatar established the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy to deliver the required infrastructure and planning, and operations for Qatar to host the historic 2022 FIFA World Cup. This would accelerate progress towards achieving national development goals and create a lasting legacy for Qatar, the Middle East, Asia, and the world. Qatar has left no stone unturned to ensure that we have the best infrastructures for the world cup events. We ensured that enough resources were mobilized to make this possible.
‘Qatar has left no stone unturned to ensure that we have the best infrastructures for the world cup events.’
As a result, as the day for hosting the much-awaited event is nearing, we have all the infrastructure in place. We have eight new stadiums, equipped with all facilities and other vital infrastructure such as underground metro, strengthened road network around stadiums and thousands of hospitality capacities as well as expansions of Hamad International Airport which will be able to serve 50 million travelers per year in 2022. These infrastructures will be the center of attraction as much as the world cup itself.
How does Qatar want to project itself by hosting the first ever international sports event in the Arab world? What is the message it wants to send to the world?
First of all, it’s a historic opportunity for the people in the Middle East and Asia to enjoy the championship. Our people are deeply connected to football passion. As the Highness Amir said in Davos Forum 2022‘the impact of the World Cup is not limited to fun, it will help to achieve mutual understanding between different cultures and backgrounds.’ We believe in sports as a way to ultimately achieve tolerance, coexistence and global peace. This is precisely the message that we want to send to the world.
Millions of people are expected to visit Qatar during the world cup. How will it help Qatar’s international image?
Qatar is waiting to welcome everyone to come to participate, watch and enjoy the football games. We are more than happy to be hosting the event. We have made all the efforts and detailed preparations precisely for the world cup fans, guests and viewers.
We are keen to organize a distinguished championship that all of Asia will be proud of. Our dedication, sincere efforts and commitments are reflected in the achievements of the preparations. All the stadiums are of high standards. The infrastructure, hosting and hospitality environment that Qatar will offer for a championship will be remembered and cherished by all who come to watch the games.
Nepali migrant workers contributed to building the stadiums for the FIFA 2022. How does Qatar value the role of Nepali workers?
Qatar has always appreciated the hard work and dedication of Nepali workers. Qatar will forever respect their contribution. To ensure the wellbeing and dignity of workers, Qatar has abolished the Kafala system and changed the Labor law. Unlike in the past, according to the new law, workers now can change employers, can keep their passports with themselves, can travel abroad and return, have their salaries on time by law, have specific minimum wage, guarantee of health insurance and there are special fast procedures for resolving court cases.
‘Qatar has always appreciated the hard work and dedication of Nepali workers. Qatar will forever respect their contribution.’
Like I said, Nepali workers are particularly appreciated in Qatar for their dedication, honesty and professionalism. I consider the bilateral labor cooperation between our two countries as very successful. We will continue to strengthen this cooperation in the days to come.
Meanwhile, there were reports about the deaths of Nepali workers while constructing football stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. There are voices that Qatar should pay compensation to the families of those who died or suffered injuries during the stadium construction process. What is the official view of the Qatari government on this?
Our laws and regulations prohibit the employers and companies from making the workers work in open air in summer. Also, we have strict provisions to ensure annual health checks for workers to ensure their safety and well-being while on the job. Besides, there is a mandatory risk assessment by companies. Any case of death or injury of workers is a matter of great concern for us. If the death certificate proves that the death occurred due to occupational reasons and due to failure to ensure health care, the families of the workers will be compensated and the companies responsible for it will be sanctioned.
Nepal is a country of football fans. How can Nepali football fans go to Qatar to watch football?
We would welcome you with warmth and hospitality. Regarding the cost of flight tickets, the farther the countries the higher the cost. Nepal is not very far from Qatar. So the cost will be reasonable for Nepali people.We have four daily regular flights with Qatar Airways and one more by Nepal Airlines.
Thus the World Cup can be a good opportunity for Nepali football fans to travel to Qatar. This can also be an opportunity for Nepal and Qatar to deepen people-to-people relations.
The State of Qatar hopes and wishes that the World Cup will be an opportunity for football fans in our region to come enjoy and watch. There are various types of accommodation available to everyone.