‘Time to shine’: Qatar to host World Cup | Qatar World Cup 2022 news

Doha, Qatar – When Qatar was announced to host the 2022 World Cup 12 years ago, Aisha Al Ali and her husband had recently married and started building their new home in Rawdat Al Hamama, a village adjacent to Lusail, Qatar’s second largest city. .

Her husband had some doubts, as he said the location was too far away, but she assured him that with the tournament approaching, “I’m sure Qatar will change.”

She was right. In just over a decade, roads, highways, and bridges have been constructed, easily connecting the entire country.

Since being awarded hosting rights in 2010, Qatar has spent more than $200 billion on developing and improving infrastructure, including building seven new football stadiums.

“We only had 12 years to build the infrastructure, build these highways, be sure of that [Qatar] “Public transportation and roads are available for easy access to all the stadiums,” says Al-Ali, a mother of three in her forties.

“Going from my new home to my in-laws or my parents, at that time it took me half an hour, now it takes me 15 minutes,” she says, referring to the highways and roads built over time.

“We are very proud of hosting the World Cup and the achievements Qatar has achieved,” says Al-Ali, adding that the event itself is a “moment” she has been waiting for since 2010.

Al-Ali said it was the first time that an Arab and Muslim country in the Middle East had hosted “a big event like the World Cup… It’s time to shine.”

“It is time to show the world that we are part of you, we are as good as you to host it. Sport unites all nations together.

Not only Qatar is hosting the World Cup, but the entire region is hosting it.

“An event for the world to enjoy”

Sheikh Suhaim Al Thani, 31, a director at the Qatar Free Zones Authority, which assists foreign companies wishing to operate in the country, told Al Jazeera that the sporting event is not only a Qatari achievement, but an achievement “for all Arabs, Muslims and anyone else who truly enjoys football.” “.

“Qatar is the smallest country capable of meeting the needs of such a tournament,” Al Thani said.

The entire country has an area of ​​just 11,586 square kilometers (4,473 square miles), which makes it smaller than the Australian city of Sydney. It is a 200 km (124 miles) drive to reach the northernmost point of Qatar from the southernmost point of the peninsula.

Al Thani will watch eight matches in the stadiums, but he has planned fun evenings with his friends for other games in his majlis, a traditional room in Qatari homes where friends, family and members of the community gather to socialize.

Sheikh Suhaim al-Thani
Sheikh Suhaim Al Thani said, “Qatar is the smallest country capable of meeting the needs of such a tournament.” [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

The scent of Arabian incense, popularly known as incense He fills the air in his majlis, which is an extended part of his home on the outskirts of the Qatari capital, Doha.

Al Thani believes that the event can show Western skeptics how an Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern country can pull off such a major event.

He said he felt the overall narrative in the Western media about Qatar hosting the cup was negative and unbalanced.

“these [media] The accounts do not describe the scale of the transformations that have taken place in Qatar over the years.

“Qatar has transformed beyond recognition in the past few years, we are greener, there is a lot of innovation and digital transformation going on. It all came together just in time for the World Cup. This is the time to celebrate,” he said.

shifts in society

For Maha Kafoud, 21, a student who was studying psychology in Melbourne, Australia, it’s not just the country’s infrastructure that has seen significant change over the years.

Since she returned to Qatar for another visit in January 2020, she has begun to notice shifts within Qatari society.

“Before, if a Qatari woman didn’t wear an abaya, everyone would freak out, look at her and judge her. But since I came back, I’ve been wearing hoodies and walking around Doha to all the new places and things, and no one really cares,” Kafoud said.

“I was seeing [Qatari] Men and women together and no one cares when they see it either.

Since returning earlier this month to watch the World Cup, Kafud said the country is feeling “more progressive and welcome…all while still sticking to our culture and traditions”.

View “Our Culture”

Kafoud attended the opening ceremony on Sunday with her father, an ardent football fan who played the sport for 20 years when he started his local team in Qatar by the name Al Matar Al Qadeem.

“This was a historic event that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Cavud said.

“We really showed our culture to the whole world…knowing that millions of people saw the way we danced, heard our songs, heard the Qur’an played; it was just such a beautiful thing.”

Sword dancers at the opening ceremony
Sword dancers at the opening ceremony at Al Bayt Stadium in Doha, Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

The opening segment is narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, who tells viewers, “We are all gathered here in one big tribe.”

Presented alongside Freeman Ghanem Al-Muftah, a 20-year-old Qatari man born with a rare condition that impedes the development of the lower spine. He read a verse from the Holy Quran calling for global unity.

“O humanity! He recited: We have created you from male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.

For the opening match in which Qatar played with Ecuador, about 60,000 fans crowded into Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, whose exterior was designed to resemble a traditional Bedouin tent.

Fireworks, singing and dancing featured the opening ceremony, with performances blending themes of Qatari traditions with other cultures.

“It was a proud moment for me and I think for all Qataris too, even foreigners…we were all left in tears,” said Kafod.

“I don’t think this has happened before, where we are [Qataris] She was able to show a part of our Arab and Islamic heritage to the whole world.”

[Al Jazeera]
About 60,000 fans packed Al Bayt Stadium, whose exterior was designed to resemble a traditional Bedouin tent [Katya Bohdan/Al Jazeera]

Hope for more change

Even after the World Cup is over, Cavud said she is “looking forward to seeing the change” she hopes will follow.

“I hope these 28 days make an impact [Qatari] That society becomes more open and more welcoming to foreigners in general. Although there are a lot of foreigners here – there are more foreigners than Qataris – but there is a gap and a separation, and I hope that after the World Cup, the federation will be even more united.

The Al-Ali family and their three children are excited to watch football matches for themselves, and have bought tickets for six different matches in various stadiums to get the “full experience”.

Their home, which they worried was too isolated, is now located near one of the stadiums that host tournaments in Lusail including matches with Portugal and Argentina, and the family will cheer on from the stands.

“We are fans [Argentina’s Lionel] miss you [Portugal’s Cristiano] “Ronaldo and I both understand that this is the last World Cup… so it’s good for us to come and see,” Al-Ali said.

“I attended the Arab Cup, I attended the Asian Cup, so it’s exciting to be attending the World Cup now… Qatar brought the World Cup to us, so we have to take advantage of it, come and experience it.”

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