Doha – Sunday, November 21, marked the one-year countdown to the kick-off of the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022.
It will be the first time in the tournament’s history that the finals are staged in a Muslim country in the Gulf; under a modified schedule.
Usually, the event takes place in the summer but because of extreme heat at that time of year, it will be played during a November-December ‘winter’ slot, though temperatures will still reach about 25C.
There has been plenty of criticism over the decision to stage the tournament in Qatar because of concerns over the country’s human rights record.
Amnesty International – AI has, I the past, released a report – accusing the country of failing to implement its own laws designed to improve conditions for migrant workers.
But the Qatar government has since ‘rejected’ AI’s claims.
Equality campaign group – Kick It Out, meanwhile, has announced the formation of a working group to look at inclusivity issues in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Fatma Al-Nuaimi, communications executive director of Qatar’s supreme committee for organising the tournament, noted to the media: “It’s a tournament for everyone, a tournament of firsts, and a tournament where everyone will be welcome.”
There will be eight stadiums across five cities at the 2022 World Cup, all close to each other, with no need for internal flights. And in terms of ensuring fans have somewhere to stay, organisers believe they have been creative in the range of accommodation they are offering.
Al-Nuaimi added: “The Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 will bring with it the biggest influx of sports fans the region has ever seen – introducing them to Arab culture and traditions.
“It’s an unprecedented opportunity to project a true image of the Arab world as a welcoming, peaceful, and hospitable region.
“With one year to go, we have achieved a degree of readiness that no Fifa World Cup host country has reached this far out from the tournament kick-off date.”
An estimated 1.5 million fan base is expected attend the tournament, which takes place over 28 days, organisers said. There are, however, only around 175,000 rooms for visitors travelling to the country.
The total is made up of traditional two to five-star hotels and serviced apartments and villas that will be managed by 10,000 staff.
So here is the innovative bit.
Fans who wish to explore the best of the hot weather, will stay in one of the two tented villages that are expected to be built in the desert, while the concept of fan villages is still being finalised.
Fans can also stay in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates and catch the 70-minute flight from Dubai to Doha for games.
The consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Islam and is not part of local culture in Qatar, but during the 2019 World Club Championship, it was sold at designated zones as well high end hotels.