By Onochie Anibeze in Doha

Shipping containers are a menace to Lagos residents. It is different, here in Qatar.  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 75 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 where fans will be able to visit two venues and watch two matches in one day.

It is  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. Some had argued that the World Cup be taken away from Qatar because of the weather. Summer is considered too hot for football in Qatar but the people developed the cooling technology which may no longer be necessary since the World Cup will take place  in November, the time of the year that is winter in Europe, the Americas and some other places.

Although Qatar installed cooling technology in their stadiums and was ready to host at anytime of the year there was good reason to move it to the conducive period of November and December which will just be about 28 degrees celsius, the weather condition Lothar Matthaus says will be ‘lovely for football.’

Hassan Al Thawadi

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. 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 Qatar.

The 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 and 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. This helped him in football administration. He has served in many organisations and it  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 2005 to strengthen national economy. His Highness Amir Sheikh Tamin bin Hmmad Al Thani  in 2020 appointed him into the board of Qatar Investment Authority. Al Thawadi is on the boards of  National Tourism Council, at Katara Hospitality, Qatar International Islamic Bank and Msheireb properties. He is a Joint Advisory Board member at Northwestern University, Qatar and Council member at Hamad bin Khalifa University (College of Humanities and Social Sciences) and Qatar University (College of Business and Economics). He read law at University of Sheffield in UK. Al Thawadi 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. He is running a great race.

When issues were raised about labour conditions in Qatar, Hassan Al Thawadi was in the vanguard of advocacy for reforms that have improved the lot of workers. The Supreme Committee aligns with Qatar’s  Vision 2030  and the World Cup is helping to fast-track the economic development 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 it. 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, road expansions, healthcare?

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. 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 –  organisation as seen with Fifa; business, hospitality, and even humanities as seen in many bodies he has served and continues to serve. He is driving the World Cup amazingly. Everybody is counting the remaining days. The moment is almost here and the world cannot wait to experience the Amazing World Cup Hassan Al Thawadi, his team and the Qatari have promised.

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