By Onochie Anibeze in Doha

Shipping containers are among the things denying Lagos its claim as City of Excellence.

Trucks conveying them block roads, many are abandoned in areas that ordinarily should look descent. And these days when Lagos State government approve erection of truck yards in purely residential areas containers have become a huge menace to the lives of Lagos residents. With authorities losing focus in the management of shipping lines, containers now flood everywhere in Lagos. They constitute such terrible sights especially now that touts stop them on roads to collect tolls. The traffic this causes hurts.

Shipping containers have turned a nightmare to Lagos residents especially those in Amuwo Odofin and Apapa areas. Here, in Qatar, it is different, Stadium 974 is a sight to behold. It is one of the stadiums that will host the 2022 World Cup starting here in less than 71 days from now.

Stadium 974 was built with 974 containers. They were beaten to shape to produce one of the spectacles of the 2022 World Cup. The same containers that make a mess of Nigerian roads add to the beauty of Qatar, the 2022 World Cup and the history that will be told and retold to generations to come. It is the first World Cup in the Middle East. 

It is the first compact World Cup, the first in November and so the first that truly captures the context of the word ‘world’ and it’s meaning to the Mundial. If the World Cup is hosted by a few countries we may begin to redefine the word ‘world’ that actually underscores its global character. It will be wrong to deny any part of the world hosting rights because of their religion, time difference, weather or any natural disposition. And that’s one of the reasons the world will be here in Qatar from November 20 for the World Cup. Initially, some people wanted the World Cup taken away from Qatar because of the weather. Summer is considered too hot for football in Qatar. But they installed cooling technology in their stadiums and were ready to host at anytime of the year. However, there was good reason to move it to the conducive period of November and December which will just be about 28 degrees celsius, which Lothar Matthaus says will be ‘lovely for football.’

The ingenuity of cooling atmosphere, building a stadium with shipping containers are just tips of the iceberg that will behold visitors at 2022 World Cup that Qatar will present in the coming days. They are also the first in recent history to get their facilities ready even two years before the games. And these are facilities football legends like Ruud Gullit, Lotha Mattaus, Bora Milutinovic, Samuel Eto’o etc have described as the best they have seen for the World Cup. The facilities speak for themselves. Qatar 2022 World Cup is already turning a success even before the games. 

All eyes are on Hassan Al Thawadi to finish strongly the amazing work he started more than 10 years ago. He is the Secretary General, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy who was Chief Executive Officer in Qatar’s Bid Committee where he worked closely with Bid Chairman, His Excellency Sheikh Mojammed bin Hamad Al Thani. They presented a bid world football governing body, FIFA, could not ignore. Having succeeded in winning the hosting right announced in 2010, Hassan Al Thawadi was in March 2011 appointed Secretary General of the Supreme Committee to deliver the amazing World Cup they told the world to dream about when they were still bidding for it. Al Thawadi wormed himself into FIFA family to master the workings of the organisation and football administration. He has served in many organisations that have prepared him for the onerous task of delivering the most prestigious competition in the world. 

In 2013 he was appointed into FIFA’s World Cup Organsing Committee as Special Advisor and this is in addition to his position as chairman of 2022 FIFA World Cup LLC, the joint venture between FIFA and the Supreme Committee. Al Thawadi once served as General Counsel for Qatar Investment Authority(QIA) and Qatar Holding, bodies founded by State of Qatar in 2025 to strengthen national economy. He is on the board of Qatar Investment Authority and holds board positions in National Tourism Council, at Katara Hospitality, Qatar International Islamic Bank and Msheireb properties.  He is a lawyer(graduate of law from University of Sheffield in UK) who speaks English, Spanish and French. His is simply the case of ‘who the cap fits, let him wear it.’ Hassan Al Thawadi has ‘lived’ the Qatar World Cup in the past 11 years. His life revolves around it. And he is flying with the times as far as the 2022 World Cup is concerned. He sits at the head of a committee that is out to present the best World Cup ever to the world. 

When issues were raised about labour conditions in Qatar, Hassan Al Thawadi was at the centre of reforms that have improved the lot of workers. The World Cup ialigns with  Vision 2030 of Qatar which is expected to make Qatar a bigger player in Middle East and the world in general. Hospitality business will never be the same in Qatar after the World Cup. Tourism will soar, trade and industry will benefit from the games. Qatar is already better for it as the transformation the country has passed through since 2010 has been tremendous. What with high rising structures, metro system, healthcare etc.

Many marvel at the cooling technology at the stadiums, the beauty that is Al Bayt Stadium that will host the opening match, the masterpiece at Lusail and the ingenuity at Stadium 974. Nigeria can learn something from the Stadium 974 and put to better use the containers that making life miserable to their people.  

Qatar has a history of trade and Stadium 974 pays tribute to that with 974 containers which were used to ship things to the Middle East country. Interestingly 974 is the international dialing code of Qatar. Creativity has been their hallmark at the Supreme Committee. 

The hospitality suits at some of the stadiums wow visitors. Al Thawadi has garnered experience from many sectors – administration and organisation as seen with his functions in Fifa; business, hospitality, and even humanities as reflected in many bodies he has served and continues to serve. He is driving the World Cup amazingly. Everybody is counting the remaining days and banking on him. his team and the Qatari people.  The moment is almost here and the world cannot wait to experience the Amazing World Cup Hassan Al Thawadi and his team have promised.

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