Interview: Hassan Al Thawadi

How will efforts to ensure environmental and economic sustainability shape the organisation, design and visitor experience of the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

HASSAN AL THAWADI: Building a sustainable legacy has always been a key component of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar; a legacy of human, economic and environmental development for Qatar and the region. To achieve this, all of our venues offer something to the communities around them to ensure their continued use, both sporting and non-sporting, long after the tournament concludes. In addition, our venues are accredited by the Global Sustainability Assessment System, and many are surrounded by multipurpose precincts offering schools, sporting facilities, green areas, markets, hotels, and office space. This helps ensure post-tournament use.

Similarly, our modular engineering concept will see over 170,000 seats from seven of our eight venues demounted and donated to developing countries in need of sporting infrastructure. This helps fulfil one of our key bid promises and ensures the venues are fit for purpose after the tournament. The Ras Abu Aboud Stadium will be completely deconstructed after it is used, and the stadium’s super-structure will either be used to build a 40,000-seat stadium in a different location, or several types of sporting and non-sporting venues. This will help create an important social legacy by widening access to cultural and sporting events.

In what ways is the committee coordinating with tourism and hospitality stakeholders to ensure adequate preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

AL THAWADI: The SC is working with various stakeholders to ensure a seamless fan experience in 2022. From two- and five-star hotels, to rooms on cruise ships and Bedouin-style tents, we are working with the National Tourism Council, Katara Hospitality and others to develop and implement a sustainable accommodation strategy that offers visitors unique experiences. In addition, Qatar is committed to delivering a safe and secure FIFA World Cup, offering fans and players a welcoming and family-friendly tournament. With that in mind, the country has established a security committee that works hand-in-hand with the SC. This committee works with the Council of Europe to develop security plans for the tournament and ensure standards meet best international practices.

Meanwhile, Qatar has accumulated a wealth of experience in hosting major successful sporting events, from the 1976 Gulf Cup of Nations to the 2019 IAAF World Championships event set to be held later this year. The tournament and other relevant sporting events between now and 2022 will optimise our plans for hosting the tournament, drive Qatar’s reputation as the region’s sporting hub, and highlight the sporting facilities and infrastructure that already exist.

What lessons can Qatar draw from the experience of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia?

AL THAWADI: Russia hosted a successful tournament in 2018 in accordance with the best standards. We sent over 180 personnel who are involved in organising the 2022 tournament, as well as a number of SC stakeholders, to take part in official observation programmes with FIFA and the local organising committee in Russia. While the 2018 FIFA World Cup is an ideal example, tournament logistics will vary from one country to another given the different tournament plans. For instance, the World Cup in Russia was held in 11 different cities, many of which required fans to fly between them. This meant that much of the country’s plans involved close-knit coordination with local airports in order to ensure smooth transport. The compact nature of Qatar’s tournament means that stadiums are in close proximity to each other. The longest distance between stadiums will be 55 km and the shortest 5 km. In addition, players will be able to remain in the same training camp for the whole tournament, which will allow them more time to rest and train between games.