500 days to go: Qatar gears up to welcome one million fans at FIFA World Cup in 2022

The 500-day countdown to next year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar will begin on Friday.

Qatar's World Cup infrastructure projects have reached 95 per cent completion, with all eight stadiums set to be ready by the end of the year. (Representational photo)   -  REUTERS

The 500-day countdown to next year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar will begin on Friday.

This will be the first World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world - which will begin on November 21 and conclude on December 18 – Qatar National Day - next year.

The CEO of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, Nasser al-Khater, and young fans in the capital Doha, spoke on Thursday of their pride at hosting the biggest single-sport event in the world.

"Five hundred days to go means we're getting very close," said al-Khater.

"It brings the world together, it brings the Arab world together, it's a moment of pride in the history of this part of the world."

al-Khater went on to say he believes the compact tournament footprint is one of Qatar’s unique selling points for fans as they begin planning their trips to the country.

“The compact nature is probably the most positive aspect of this World Cup,” said al- Khater. “For fans, they won’t have to follow their team from city to city, which means there will be a significant cost saving and means they will have time to take in the ambiance and enjoy what Qatar has to offer.”

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Involving 16 teams from across the region, the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 will take place exactly a year before Qatar 2022. It will provide a vital opportunity to test infrastructure and operations while giving fans a taste of the region’s passion for the beautiful game.

“It’s an important event for us,” said al-Khater. “It will bring the Arab world together for an important tournament – held under the FIFA umbrella for the first time. It’s going to be a great opportunity to see the new stadiums in action and prepare ourselves for Qatar 2022.”

The SC’s Yasir Al Jamal, Vice Chairman, Technical Delivery Office, and Chairman, Operations Office, said Qatar’s FIFA World Cup infrastructure projects had reached 95% completion, with all the stadiums set to be ready by the end of the year.

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