PHEW! Finally, we’ve weathered the storm. Come Friday, December 2, it’ll be six years since we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. We were under attack from day one, mainly by the western media which hurled all sorts of accusations, mostly unsubstantiated, and allegations without a shred of evidence. But we always believed that when the dust settled, the whole world would be with us.
The past six years have been a great learning experience in more ways than one for the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL). It had a huge task on hand, firstly convincing the world that Qatar deserved to host football’s ultimate showpiece event and, secondly, proving it is capable of delivering what could be an amazing tournament.
I’m happy that, slowly but steadily, it succeeded in its mission. Recent developments, particularly during this month, have been quite reassuring. Following SCDL Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi’s unequivocal statement that the World Cup would indeed go ahead in Qatar as planned, came the visit of FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura, who returned thoroughly impressed by the host country’s preparations, praising its level of commitment.
On the infrastructure front, the SCDL’s Technical Delivery Office, under the chairmanship of Hilal Al Kuwari, has been able to make huge strides, with work on all eight stadiums in progress.
The main contractor for the iconic 80,000-seater stadium in Losail, venue for the opening and final matches, was announced last Monday and the project is expected to be completed in 2020.
The expansion work of the Khalifa International Stadium is almost complete while contracts for the Al Rayyan and Qatar Foundation venues were awarded earlier this year.
Construction is in full swing at Al Khor and Al Wakrah sites while the preliminary work for the remaining two — Al Thumama and Ras Abu Aboud — have begun, with the latter expected to be built on Public-Private-Partnership model, something unique for the region.
There’ve been a lot of positive developments on the workers’ welfare front as well and more such measures are expected to be in place when the new labour law comes into effect next month.
So far so good, but we must always be on our toes. In six years, around this time, we’ll be into the second week of World Cup. I hope we’ll be able to deliver an amazing tournament.