2022 World Cup challenge
World Cup can eradicate misconceptions about Arab world; Qatar likely to make concessions on alcohol consumption; Solar-powered technology to cool stadiums.
December 16, 2010 9:52 by Reuters
“The international and media interest in Qatar will now be tremendous. Rather than focusing on the political troubles in the region, the win is an opportunity to talk about what a country can achieve if it uses its resources in the right way.”
“With the world watching, Qatar will want to send a clear message: we deserved this, we’re going to make the most out of it, and we’re going to show everyone a different side of the Arab world,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at Brookings Doha Center, the Qatar branch of the Washington think tank.
To this end, Qatar’s bid committee put a woman, Sheikha Mozah, at the heart of the final presentation, a move which some analysts believe impressed the committee. The only other bid to do that was Russia, winner of the 2018 tournament.
Bid CEO Hassan Al-Thawadi also promised that Israel would be welcomed to compete. FIFA would not have entertained a bid from Qatar if there was any suggestion that Israel, shunned by most of the Arab world, would not be allowed to compete if it qualified.
A SHARED CUP?
FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently suggested that Qatar could host the event with neighbouring Gulf countries. But observers in the region say that it is unlikely the Gulf state will share the glory.
“Obtaining the World Cup is the apogee of Qatar’s policies in the past decade, where they have shown a single-minded determination to publicise themselves as much as possible, primarily to boost Qatar’s soft power,” Roberts said.
“The Gulf is a competitive place. Hosting the World Cup, the publicity it will bring, the contacts that will be made, the money on offer, the kudos and respect that hosting a successful event will bring, may prove a massive competitive advantage.”
(By Regan E. Doherty. Additional reporting by Jason Benham in Dubai and Ben Klayman in New York; Editing by Simon Robinson)