Interview: Hassan Al Thawadi
Have low oil prices and the economic blockade put pressure on infrastructure investments related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup?
HASSAN AL THAWADI: As a nation, Qatar has invested its income from oil and gas prudently, so fluctuations in global energy prices do not alarm us or affect our preparations. We know our plans are ambitious, but budgets for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and associated infrastructure projects are ring-fenced. As for the illegal blockade of our country, it’s business as usual on our projects. We opened our first venue, Khalifa International Stadium, five and a half years ahead of time when it hosted the Emir Cup final in May 2017. We also launched the Arab-inspired stadium design for Al Thumama, a launch which took place after the blockade started, and we are well on track to complete two more stadiums out of the eight we have proposed by the end of next year, with Al Bayt and Al Wakrah being finished.
As a people and as an organisation, we have found opportunities in the challenges posed by the blockade. We have activated the contingency plans that we had in place and begun sourcing materials via new supply lines with nations such as Oman, India and Pakistan. Diversifying supply chains in this way is just one of the ways we are strengthening our economy.
What is the most significant benefit that the World Cup will bring to the Qatari economy?
AL THAWADI: The physical legacy of the Middle East’s first World Cup will remain long after the tournament has finished, with construction under way on seven stadiums, all designed first and foremost with the local community’s needs in mind, and one stadium already finished. However, I think the most tangible benefit for the people of Qatar as a whole will be the social and economic legacy. When we made our bid we promised that this tournament would be a catalyst for positive change in the wider economy, and we stand by that commitment. From developing a regional sports and events industry through the Josoor Institute, to helping build a green economy by encouraging sustainable behaviour through our Generation Amazing programme, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will leave a legacy of economic and environmental development for Qatar and its people.
What role do you see international companies playing in the remaining preparations?
AL THAWADI: The main contractors for all of our proposed stadiums have been selected but we are very much open for business and with five years to go there is still a lot to be done. All the elements of what actually goes inside or outside our stadiums will be coordinated by our contractors, but the SC has the mandate to oversee and approve who contributes to our projects, and there remain many varied business opportunities. Over the coming years, we will begin offering contracts related to the precincts surrounding our stadiums and legacy facilities in order to ensure there are no white elephants after 2022. The legacy of 2022 has been central to our plans since 2010, and delivering that legacy will create many opportunities for international companies and investors.
How does the 2022 FIFA World Cup factor into Qatar’s national development goals?
AL THAWADI: We have always maintained that the tournament would accelerate Qatar’s national development plans, which are laid out in Qatar National Vision 2030, and that has been the case since we made our bid to hold the tournament in 2009. Whether that’s economic diversification driven by the region’s brightest minds coming forward with their biggest and best ideas via our regional innovation award and incubation programme, Challenge 22, or using the 2022 FIFA World Cup as a stepping stone on the path towards becoming the pre-eminent regional centre for sporting events, we are already reaping the benefits of the tournament a whole five years before a ball has even been kicked.
You have reached the limit of premium articles you can view for free.
Choose from the options below to purchase print or digital editions of our Reports. You can also purchase a website subscription giving you unlimited access to all of our Reports online for 12 months.
If you have already purchased this Report or have a website subscription, please login to continue.