“We are delivering the World Cup; future generations can do anything”
With only weeks to go before the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Middle East and Arab world, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), in close collaboration with FIFA, is wrapping up preparations for the tournament.
In this new series, Making History, we are focusing on the work of Qatari employees who have played a key role in the SC’s journey.
Today, we speak to Khaled Al Suwaidi, Stakeholder Relations Director. He joined the SC in August 2022 after previously working for the Ministry of Finance. Khaled holds a degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University at Qatar and a Master’s degree in strategic business unit management from HEC Paris.
Why did you join the SC?
Joining the SC was an easy decision for me. Growing up, football shaped my childhood. All I ever did was play football in the neighbourhood with my friends. When the opportunity came to join this project, it felt right. This is the biggest sporting event in the world – I had to be a part of it. I wanted to give back to my beloved country. This is a nation’s dream so it’s only right that we fulfill our national duty and contribute to making it happen.
What do you remember about the day Qatar won the bid to host the FIFA World Cup™?
I remember I had just arrived in Houston, Texas, as part of my first work assignment abroad with ExxonMobil. I was surrounded by my Qatari friends when the announcement was made. I felt goosebumps knowing that Qatar will make its footprint everywhere when it hosts the biggest football event. It feels like it was just yesterday.
Did you ever dream you would get the chance to work on this mega-event?
At the time, I was mostly focused on engineering as a career. However, over the years, my interests changed and I switched career paths. Thankfully everything worked out.
Tell us about your role at the SC and how you’re helping to deliver the tournament.
I am currently leading the Community Engagement division at the SC. Through my role, I oversee the SC’s relationship with local stakeholders, as well as our community engagement efforts. I also manage the cultural experience element of the tournament, including activations.
Everyone has a role to play in the success of this tournament. Our role involves overseeing our communication with key stakeholders and ensuring a seamless working relationship because they are the core of this mega project.
What are some accomplishments you are proud of?
The Community Engagement division has had various accomplishments during each milestone which significantly enhanced the fan experience.
It satisfies us to see fans enjoying the matches and activations, and this leaves us with a sense of accomplishment. The trophy tour that took place during Eid was a great example of our community engagement efforts, which created buzz and excitement ahead of the World Cup.
The closest milestone to my heart is the inauguration of Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, because it was the first match post-pandemic and it was great seeing all the fans come back together. It was also the first milestone I worked on after joining the SC, which makes it special.
How would you describe the team dynamic at the SC?
At the SC, we’re truly a family. I am beyond lucky to have a team like mine. The team is energetic, positive, happy and passionate. No matter the pressure and challenges, the team is always ready to deliver amazing, and to the best of their abilities.
What does a typical day at the SC look like?
I don’t think a typical day exists at the SC. Every day brings new surprises and challenges. I would say the typical day begins in the morning and ends the following morning.
What are some challenges you encounter?
I love challenges. They bring out an innovative side to all of us. The biggest challenge we’re facing is time, or the lack of it. We are only days away from hosting the first World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world. Preparations started more than a decade ago, and we are now applying the final touches. In many ways, the final touches are just as important as the groundwork.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the SC?
Being a part of this event means being a part of history. It means giving back to our beloved country. Qatar has done so much for us. This is the least that it deserves and we should all give back to the country. This event will leave everyone proud, including future generations.
What will you cherish the most from this experience?
The memories I created with my team and our daily encounters and human interactions is what I’ll cherish the most.
What is your favourite memory at the SC?
My favourite memory is last October during the inauguration of Al Thumama Stadium. The amount of work and effort put into this inauguration was more than any other opening. When the final whistle went we all felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction seeing our work pay off. It was a beautiful moment.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind for future generations?
Personally, I want to tell future generations that ambition knows no limitation. Nothing is impossible. We are delivering the World Cup; future generations can do anything.