January 28, 2021

The economic blockade on Qatar ends – 2022 World Cup truly an Arab World Cup!

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With the regional co-operation set to increase after the economic blockade on Qatar ended, what impact does it have on the 2022 World Cup?

Last week, a three-and-a-half-year economic blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia and three of its regional allies came to an end.

The end of the restrictions means that regional diplomatic and economic ties will be restored between Qatar and its neighbouring countries. And this development will have an impact on football as well, especially the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar, set to host the first-ever World Cup to be held in the Arab world, have been hard-at-work preparing for the event in earnest. They have already inaugurated four of the eight planned venues for the World Cup apart from related infrastructure projects including metro line extensions and more.

The stadiums feature cutting-edge technology like the Advanced Cooling Tech and more. Safe to say that from what has been seen, the impressive stadiums are set to offer the fans a very memorable World Cup experience.

The rest of the venues are also progressing on schedule, along with other related projects. The fact that Qatar has accomplished all this while being caught up in the middle of a global pandemic speaks volumes of its resilience.

With the added inconvenience of the economic blockade over, the Middle-East nation will be hopeful of stepping up its preparations for the 2022 World Cup in earnest.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organisation responsible for the delivery of the 2022 World Cup, has always maintained that the 2022 World Cup was a tournament that will unite the world, especially in a post-pandemic situation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected life all around the world with major events including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed. The 2022 World Cup was to be one of the biggest sporting events that would have given fans a cause to celebrate in a world that, hopefully by then, would have had access to the Covid-19 vaccine.

Hassan Al Thawadi, General Secretary of the SC, had earlier (during a conversation with James Worrall, Leaders CEO & Founder) said, “It may sound idealistic, but Covid-19 has made us realise we are all social creatures. The impact on our mental health, the uncertainty, social distancing, not being able to engage with each other – everyone misses human interaction. I’ve always dreamed big and said this is a World Cup to bring people together – and goodness knows, after Covid, we have to come back together. We need to get over this and celebrate collectively during Qatar 2022.”

Al Thawadi had also expressed hope back then that the economic blockade imposed on Qatar would end soon, helping them to celebrate Middle-East’s first World Cup in a truly befitting manner along with their neighbours.

“Support from the people of the region – notably blockading countries – is there. People are very excited about the tournament. I hope the blockading countries remove travel restrictions. There are no restrictions from Qatar. I hope they remove them for what is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people of our region.”

Now that the blockade has come to an end, it seems Al Thawadi’s wish is very well coming true.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino also stated after the blockade ended that football will bring the region together. “Football has shown throughout this crisis that it is a unique platform of exchange for people of the Gulf and I am sure the game will continue to unite the region in the near future,” the Swiss official said.

The co-operation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia has already started manifesting itself on the sporting stage. With both countries going head-to-head for the rights to host the 2030 Asian Games initially, they have recently decided to come to a compromise with Doha hosting the 2030 event and Riyadh to host the 2034 edition.

While Qatar continue to build a legacy with their stated aim of ‘Deliver Amazing’ for the 2022 World Cup, prospective co-operation from their neighbours will be a big boost to their World Cup work, with the event just less than two years away.