WEF panel
WEF panel


‘Qatar’s World Cup will help to achieve mutual understanding between different cultures’

Amir WEF

The Amir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said the country’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup™ will help to promote understanding between different people and cultures.

His Highness was speaking during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting on Monday prior to a panel session titled ‘Sport as a Unifying Force’.

His Highness said: “This tournament will be the first major sporting event with full attendance following the COVID-19 pandemic. I am happy that we will unite the world and bring people back together.”

“The impact [of the World Cup] is not limited to fun,” added His Highness. “It will help to achieve mutual understanding between different cultures and backgrounds. The people of Qatar and the region are excited to share our culture. The Qatar 2022 World Cup is a journey of hard work, determination and tireless effort. I am looking forward to welcoming all of you.”

During the panel session, a number of special guests were asked what football – and sport generally – can do to deepen its role as a unifying force.

H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, contributed to the discussion. He spoke about Qatar’s legacy projects in relation to hosting the FIFA World Cup™, which will take place from 21 November to 18 December.

“From the day we submitted our bid, we recognised the transformative power of sport and the World Cup,” said Al Thawadi. “We worked to ensure that the World Cup serves as a vehicle for the nation to achieve the goals set out in Qatar National Vision 2030. The metro system, new expressways and state-of-the-art communications systems were all part of the development – and the World Cup has helped to accelerate these initiatives.”

SG World Economic Forum

Al Thawadi spoke about the stadium infrastructure projects – in particular the legacy plans. Qatar has built eight stadiums for the tournament, with all of them located within an hour’s drive of central Doha, meaning Qatar will host the most compact edition of the FIFA World Cup™ in modern history.

“Every stadium has a unique story and legacy plan,” said Al Thawadi. “Lusail Stadium, which will host the final, will host botanical gardens and food security research programmes after the tournament. Another stadium, 974, is set up like a Lego set, utilising shipping containers so it can be disassembled after the tournament. We are currently in discussions with FIFA in relation to a very ambitious goal which could set the standard for how stadiums can be used beyond a tournament.”

Al Thawadi went on to outline the power of hosting the biggest sporting event in the world.

“When we hosted the FIFA Arab Cup in 2021, we welcomed people from different walks of life. It was a celebration and showcased what football means to us all. It showed we are hospitable and that we open our arms to people. The World Cup will help to break down stereotypes [about the Middle East and Arab world]. Many people will be visiting Qatar for the first time and I think it will be a life-changing opportunity.”

He added: “Every major tournament has a very powerful impact on society. If you utilise it in the right way, there can be an impact geographically and for many years to come – and that’s what we’re aiming to do.”

The panel session was moderated by Patrice Motsepe, President of the Confederation of African Football and Founder and Executive Chairman, African Rainbow Minerals. Other contributors included FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger, Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, two-time FIFA World Cup™ winner and the President of Real Valladolid CF, Jill Ellis, twice a winner of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ and President, San Diego Wave FC, and Chelsea and Senegal footballer Edouard Mendy.