Browsing 'world cup 2022' News

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Qatar’s World Cup organizers are pressing ahead with plans to house some of its football fans in temporary villages in the middle of the desert.

The Supreme Committee of Delivery & Legacy (SCDL) issued a tender for the construction of a trial version of the proposed lodgings in local newspapers this week.

A committee official confirmed to Doha News that the tender was for a “pilot fan village” for visitors, who will be able to stay in Arabian tents.

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Vedran Strelar

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The test camp, which will be near Sealine beach resort next to Al Wakrah, aims to give tourists “an immersive cultural experience” and will be designed with the theme of sand dunes and the sea.

There will be 350 temporary tents and 300 permanent tents which will house a total of 2,000 fans on the 300,000 sq meter site.

The SCDL said it is in talks with other authorities for some of the sites to stay up after the World Cup. It has not yet given an opening date for this pilot camp.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s World Cup organizers are looking at five possible sites across Qatar for establishing these fan villages during the football tournament.

They will have different themes based on the local area, such as heritage; culture; history of Qatar and the Middle East; and sand, dunes and the sea, SCDL said in a statement to Doha News.

Additionally, the fan villages will have on-site entertainment including large screens to show the matches, shops and health centers.

Announcing a tender to build the pilot fan village, Abdulaziz Ali Al-Mawlawi, SC technical manager, said:

“This type of accommodation is a great way to experience Qatar and the Middle East, giving fans the option of a tournament experience which will showcase the best of the culture, traditions and unique landmarks of our country.”

There will be different types of camp to suit all budgets, he added.

Rooms shortage

Tournament organizers first publicly discussed the idea of a desert camp site for fans in March this year.

World Cup governing body FIFA requires 60,000 rooms to be ready for traveling fans and officials during the event in late 2022.

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Chantelle D'mello

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Currently, Qatar has around 20,000 hotel rooms and apartments, mostly in five-star facilities.

But even with a building boom well underway, experts have predicted that the number of available rooms will not exceed 46,000.

In addition to tents, cruise ships are also being floated as an option. They may provide an additional 6,000 guest rooms for 12,000 fans.

Affordable experience

David Goodger, a UK-based director in Oxford Economics’ tourism, previously described the idea of desert camps as a cost-effective way to accommodate fans who were unable or unwilling to pay for five-star hotels.

He also suggested constructing fan zones in the camps to enhance the experience for spectators.

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“It’s great weather for camping and it’s an option that I could see working really well,” he told Doha News earlier this year.

A number of established, local tour operators already offer desert camping experiences, typically in large, Bedouin-style tents.

Some, such as Regency’s site at Sealine, cater to those who prefer “glamping” more than roughing it.

Facilities can include luxury, en suite tents fitted air conditioning, king-size beds and even fluffy robes and slippers.


Jose Daniel Carreno


Jose Daniel Carreno

Qatar has reportedly sacked José Daniel Carreño as its national football team coach amid flailing hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

According to AFP, Carreño may be replaced by fellow Uruguayan Jorge Fossati, the current coach of Al Rayyan.

The newswire quoted him as saying this week:

“Qatar is a special country for me and I cannot refuse an offer (to coach the team) if it is made to me.”

He had previously worked as coach of the national team a decade ago.

Proving itself

As host of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar will automatically be allowed to play in those games.

But it hopes to qualify to compete in 2018 to prove its football mettle to the world.

However, whether this will happen is now in doubt. The team has suffered two back-to-back losses in recent weeks.

To make it to Russia, AFP says Qatar will need to gain the maximum points during its next three matches.

Qatar is scheduled to play South Korea on Oct. 10, Syria on Oct. 11 and China in November. It will also have rematches with Iran and Uzbekistan in 2017.


Qatar National Day 2013

Jaimee Haddad

Residents turned away from National Day celebrations in 2013

After working as a lawyer in Qatar since 2013, entrepreneur Kristen Jarvis Johnson left the country earlier this year. Here, she admits regretting staying silent about rights violations during her time here, and urges other expats to do more to challenge the status quo.

I have always been a strong human rights advocate. Yet while in Qatar, I felt unable to speak out about the problems I witnessed there.

Six months after leaving, I am still haunted by the thousands of people working under harsh conditions to prepare for the 2022 World Cup and to build the country’s infrastructure.

All of these workers are employed under the kafala (sponsorship) system, one that many people in Qatar are quick to criticize behind closed doors.

But many expats remain publicly silent about these issues while living in the country.

This could be because we initially find ourselves excited about a new job, lifestyle and networking prospects.

And we may not have first realized the nature or extent of the kafala problem.

But once the dark realization sets in that we are supporting modern day slavery, we feel that we risk our reputation and livelihood if we speak out.

Legal threat

The country’s cybercrime law makes criticism online even more risky.

While in Qatar, I researched this law thoroughly, and even consulted with local experts on its intent and interpretation.

The bottom line is that what everyone fears is true: The consequences of contrarian speech are drastic and create huge risk for those who wish to voice an opinion.

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Nick Olejniczak/Flickr

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The law is incredibly broad and leaves room for law enforcement to arrest any person whose published speech violates “social values.”

So most expats wait to speak up, if at all, until after they have completed their stay in Qatar. This leads to criticism about people living large while in the country who only publish scathing commentaries after they leave.

It’s more complex than this, but it is true. Most do wait until they are outside the jurisdiction of Qatar to speak up. I know I did.

Barred exit

I practiced law in Qatar for the past several years.

To me, one of the most shocking things was that although it’s the richest country in the world and is developing at light speed, Qatar’s employment and labor sectors were sorely under-developed.

They also failed when it came to respecting the most basic human rights standards.

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Reem Saad / Doha News

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While there, I observed the contrast between those free to leave and those laboring under the sun.

It was clear that the human toll is great. Laborers in Qatar cannot simply quit their jobs and go home, and they have no true recourse to challenge abhorrent working conditions.

Under the current law, a person who is not a citizen of Qatar may be held indefinitely within the country despite pleas to leave.

Without an exit permit, an employee who leaves his job can be detained at any port of exit, and jailed or returned to his/her employer.

Even the reforms to kafala, which are due to come into force in December, do not change this basic and severely fundamental problem in the law.

The obvious reason the system has not changed is because convenience and cost savings in Qatar have won over human rights.

Ignoring the human cost

Many attempts have been made to paint a beautiful picture of the upcoming World Cup to obscure the human cost.

Some journalists have been thwarted from publishing investigative pieces to downplay the severity of the problem.

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Sean Knoflick / Flickr

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Meanwhile, even powerful imagery of slavery-themed advertisements has not stopped most corporate sponsorship of the games.

The funny thing is, I cannot think of a single Qatari person I met who did not appear caring and thoughtful about humanity and the country.

Generally speaking, Qataris are wonderful people. And if you asked one whether they support slavery, they would almost certainly denounce the practice as wrong.

But individuals’ opinions stand in stark contrast to the true state of the kafala system.

There’s no doubt it fosters abuse, and we continue to hear of workers yearning to leave, workers who endure horrific working and living conditions and workers who feel trapped.

Over and over again.

Speaking out

This is why we, the international community, must continue to stand up for the rights of those slaving away on Qatar’s World Cup preparations.

We can implore the leaders of Qatar to scrutinize their legal system, to get rid of laws that violate basic human rights and to protect the workers building the nation’s infrastructure.

Ramadan iftar

Reem Saad / Doha News

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We can challenge those supporting this system to think hard about their choice to do so.

On the business end, corporate sponsors should also outline the minimum standards required to preserve their sponsorship.

And even when we feel powerless, we can invoke the power of education by teaching those around us through our everyday interactions how prioritizing dignity and human rights leads to a happier workforce, loyalty, quality and contentment.

Prioritizing these values is what will make Qatar far greater than its beautiful buildings and sporting events.

Shared responsibility

Whether you are like me, an expat who benefited in many ways from the wealth and growth of the country, or you are someone new to Qatar who is thinking about attending the 2022 World Cup, we all indirectly contribute to the plight of enslaved workers.

It’s an enormous moral morass.

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2015 Handball/Facebook

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Many great people live and work in Qatar and disapprove of the system. But even so, we all end up sharing responsibility for the problem through complacency or silence.

The World Cup is just around the corner. At that time, the world will join together in Qatar to celebrate and compete in a most beloved sport.

Let’s join together now to stand up for those helping to build the infrastructure and venues. Please, Qatar, let every person be free.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this Opinion article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Doha News’ editorial policy.