Qatar cruising towards 2022 FIFA World Cup at lightning speed

Since Qatar was awarded hosting rights in December 2010, highways have been constructed, a swanky metro rail has come up, and two stadiums have been fully readied.

A general view of the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, after it was refurbished ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.   -  AFP

"42 months 02 days 18 hours," says a TV as you enter Doha's Al-Bidda Tower, the home of all bodies associated with Qatar football and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Those numbers indicate the countdown to the World Cup, and as it appears, Qatar is cruising towards it at lightning speed.

The Arab nation was awarded hosting rights in December 2010 and a wave of infrastructure development has followed. Highways have been constructed, a swanky metro rail connecting ends of the city with 3 lines and 37 stations has come up, and two stadiums have been fully readied, the most recent one being the Al Janoub Stadium that was inaugurated for the Amir Cup final last Thursday.

"I remember when I saw the sketches of the Al Janoub stadium at the very beginning and walking into the stadium for the Amir Cup final was really emotional. This stadium was built from scratch, so it was a very special moment," Nasser Al Khater, CEO of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, told select media on Saturday. 

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Qatar had a 'National Vision 2030' plan that aimed to "transform Qatar into an advanced society capable of achieving sustainable development" by 2030, and the arrival of the World Cup has largely helped speed up the rate of development.

"The importance of the World Cup is that it has accelerated vision 2030 when it comes to infrastructure and a lot of the environment programmes that have been put in place. It's good to have a vision and to be working towards it," he added.

The Al Janoub stadium, that was inaugurated for the Amir Cup final on Thursday.   -  Special Arrangement



The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be the first time an Arab nation is hosting the competition, the second time it is being held in Asia and the most compact World Cup, as all the stadiums are located within a 55km radius. In addition to this, it will also have the distinction of becoming the most environment-friendly World Cup as the proximity of stadiums eliminates the need for inter-city air travel. 

“We knew this World Cup can become the most environment-friendly one because you cut off air travel completely. We will be depending on the metro rail to a large extent and will also look at environment-friendly buses – maybe electrical or low emission buses – through the tournament,” said Al Khater.

Speaking of proximity, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will also be the closest World Cup to India. With close to 700,000 residents, Indians form the single largest community in Qatar and have been actively involved in activities leading to the World Cup. 

Qatar Rail, the state-owned company responsible for the metro, has said it hopes to wean people off cars and encourage them to use public transport.   -  afp

 

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“The Indian community in Qatar is going to have a huge part to play as they are the largest community here. Football's popularity in India is increasing at a breakneck pace. We are looking actively on how we can enhance the experience for the Indian fans. I believe there will be a lot of Indians fans coming to this World Cup, more than any other edition,” he said.

(The writer is in Qatar on an invitation by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy)

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