Interview: Nasser Al Khater
What legacy is Qatar looking to build from hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar?
NASSER AL KHATER: The 2022 FIFA World Cup represents a chance to drive positive and sustainable change beyond the tournament, both in Qatar and the wider region. From the outset, we have been committed to upskilling the local community to foster a knowledge-based economy that can drive diversification. We have also been committed to leaving a positive social legacy related to workers’ welfare.
Transformational labour reforms have been introduced to make Qatar a benchmark for the region when it comes to migrant workers’ rights, and we are committed to sustainable progress in this area. One of the successes in relation to workers’ welfare is the way we tackled the repayment of illegal recruitment fees, which workers are charged by unscrupulous agencies before travelling to Qatar. We have worked with 266 contractors who have voluntarily agreed to repay QR104m ($28.5m) to workers. As of March 2022 more than QR83m ($22.8m) had been reimbursed, and there is room for further improvement.
On an economic level the World Cup has been an important catalyst for a number of national projects that were planned long before Qatar bid to host the tournament, including the Doha Metro, the Hamad International Airport expansion project and the continuous development of road infrastructure.
To what extent will the 2022 FIFA World Cup catalyse development in the sporting industry?
AL KHATER: Each of our World Cup venues has been built with the intention of year-round use by future generations. They were designed to become vibrant centres for the communities in which they are located. Our stadia feature demountable seating systems, meaning that the upper tier in each venue can be swapped out for community facilities such as cafes, restaurants, schools, hospitals or shops. Al Bayt Stadium, which will host the opening match, will be converted to a boutique hotel once the tournament concludes. Importantly, we equipped our stadia with bespoke cooling technology, allowing them to be used regardless of the outdoor temperature.
The venues have already hosted various sporting events such as the World Athletics in 2019; the 24th edition of the Gulf Cup; the 2019 and 2020 FIFA Club World Cup; and the AFC Champions League East and West matches. After the World Cup, Qatar will turn its attention to preparing for the 2030 Asian Games, which will benefit from the newly developed facilities and precincts from the World Cup. At the same time, Qatar is bidding to host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup and has expressed interest in bidding to host the 2032 Olympic Games. In addition, we will host the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix for 10 years, starting in 2023.
How is the tournament harnessing innovative technology for event management, and what can other markets learn from Qatar’s example?
AL KHATER: The 2022 FIFA World Cup is an innovative tournament on all fronts. The demountability of our stadia – a World Cup first – should inspire other countries to host future tournaments without the fear of leaving behind unusable infrastructure.
A prime example of this is the design of Stadium 974 – the first fully demountable FIFA World Cup venue. The design and construction of this stadium has the potential to herald a new era of sustainable tournament infrastructure that can broaden the range of countries able to host mega-events.
The knowledge gained in producing cooling technology within our stadia can be shared with future host nations of the World Cup that have similar climates. It can also be used for agriculture. This collection of ideas, knowledge, expertise, planning and data will be made freely available to the public through a partnership with Qatar National Library.