Adam Gonn / The Media Line
“Welcome to the brand new and fully air-conditioned Al-Shamal Stadium in
Doha, Qatar, for the opening game of the 2022 World Cup in soccer,”
calls out the loud speaker.
While the announcement is still 12 years away, authorities in the small
but natural-gas rich Gulf kingdom of Qatar are doing all they can to
make the dream come true.
A total of five new stadiums are to be built, all capable of
withstanding the scorching summer heat of the Gulf, which can reach up
to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. This is all with the goal in mind of
convincing the global governing body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de
Football Association) that Qatar is ready ahead of FIFA’s Executive
Committee meeting in December 2010, where they will vote on the winning
bid for the World Cup.
The World Cup in soccer is the world’s largest sporting event dedicated
to one single sport, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and
billions of TV viewers. Since the first game in 1930, and taking place
every four years since, it has been hosted outside South America and
Europe on only three occasions.
But that rotation system introduced in 1988 by FIFA means that the event
will rotate between the five continents, giving Qatar hope.
During a visit to Doha in April 2010. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was
quoted as saying the Arab world deserves to stage a World Cup.
Blatter also praised Qatar’s infrastructure, saying that the
government’s successful hosting of the 2006 Asian Games showed it was
capable of organizing big international events.
Shadi Hamid, deputy director of Brookings Doha Center in Qatar told The
Media Line that “Hosting the World Cup fits quite well within Qatar’s
ongoing strategy to become a regional hub for political and economic
activity.” Adding, “Sports is an important part of that.”
“To be sure, Qatar is already on the map,” he said, “but hosting the
World Cup in Doha would gain it unprecedented interest and attention and
have the effect of boosting its regional and international role even
“There are still some people who haven’t heard of Qatar. If it hosts the
World Cup, those people will largely cease to exist,” Hamid said.
“Another way of looking at it is that Qatar sees itself as a neutral
space where peoples, cultures, and nations can come together and the
World Cup is a very appropriate expression of that,” said Hamid.
But Doha is not the only city in the Gulf region that is hoping to host
a major sporting event.
Despite being hit severely by the effects of the global financial crisis
in 2008, the will of Dubai to host the 2020 Olympic summer games is
Sheikh Muhammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President of the United Arab
Emirates and Ruler of Dubai was recently quoted in local media as
saying, “The Olympics are a dream for us.” Adding that, “It would be a
great pleasure and dream for us to have the Games here.”
As with Doha, the weather will be a major factor for Dubai. One of the
main reasons believed to be behind Doha’s failed bid to hold the 2016
Olympics was the proposal to move the games to mid-October instead of
the traditional summer months.
“We are concerned about the climate,” Maktoum was quoted as saying. “On
the other hand, nothing will stop us. But still, priority is the
Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, chairman of Young Arab Leaders – United Arab
Emirates chapter told The Media Line that, “Although Dubai’s bid seems
farfetched, the fact that the city is attempting to host such a global
event speaks volumes about its ambitions.”
“As a result of this bid, and even if it weren’t successful, Dubai will
upgrade its already state of the art infrastructure, will enhance
physical education in schools and do what it does best, which is to
challenge what is acceptable for a Middle Eastern state to dream of
achieving,” which Qassemi said is “that itself will be worth the Olympic
Source: The Media Line , May 18, 2010