Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari: Qatar 2022 could return a sense of confidence to the Arab world
Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, a Minister of the State of Qatar and President of the Qatar National Library, downplays the "risks" some claim Qatar is running by hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022, with regards to the possible negative social and cultural effects holding the event could have.
In conversation with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication, he says that Qatar has achieved huge success in its preparations for the success of the global event.
Qatar 2022: A springboard to future developments
Kawari described Qatari society as a confident, Arab, Muslim society which is capable of preserving itself and its cultural heritage from any possible negative impacts. He believes there should be no fear within a culture which believes in its own achievements and treats others as equals.
"Organising the World Cup 2022 in Qatar doesn't represent the endpoint of Qatar's dreams, rather it is one important step on the path of development and progress, and it will give Qatar vital experience in being able to achieve other goals"
He is adamant that organising the World Cup 2022 in Qatar doesn't represent the endpoint of Qatar's dreams, rather it is one important step on the path of development and progress, and it will give Qatar vital experience in being able to achieve other goals, some growth-related, and some social and cultural.
Kawari spoke about the ways Qatar and the region would benefit from hosting the World Cup for the first time, both culturally and in terms of gaining experience which would be invaluable to the country in the future.
Boosting the spirit of the Arab region
He said that Qatar is not representing itself alone, but all the Arabs, and expressed the hope it will return a sense of confidence to many in the region, and that with much of the Arab world going through such difficult times the Arab nations needed something like this to raise their spirits.
Despite the difficulties, which they were aware of, Kawari says the Qataris were confident that they would be able to meet all challenges, and that they had amazed themselves and the world with just how much had been achieved.
He said that one of the major challenges was the huge number of fans from all over the world who would gather for the event.
A "win" for the Global South
"At least three million people will gather for the first time in a country the size of a major city," he said, adding that if the coexistence of millions of entirely different backgrounds was handled well, as expected, this would be a "big win" for Qatar.
He sees Qatar's success as one for not only the country and region but for the Global South.
He touched on criticisms Qatar had met from human rights organisations and media outlets, saying that when tournaments were held in the Global North none of the same criticisms came up – but he added that Qatar had listened and acted on these comments where possible and "has changed a lot of its laws".
Kawari also emphasised that every Qatari should be aware that every post on social media and interaction with those of other cultures would be under scrutiny and they should act responsibly and feel like a "permanent ambassador for their country."
This article is based on an interview published in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication. To read the full interview in Arabic click here.