Answering World Cup 2022 Concerns

This is something that really blows my mind. When I read articles about Qatar and why the country should lose the World Cup, I’m shocked at the amount of utter rubbish I read. It looks like journalists no longer find it necessary to back up their statements with facts or write with a bit of integrity. Let me also say that I am not a professional journalist, and I’m just a blogger sharing his opinions. I also don’t have any priveleged information, what I know is what’s been shared with the public.

What I read is a lot of hate based on stereotypes. The number of times I’ve read that we shouldn’t have the World Cup because we’re Arabs, Muslims, or Terrorists, is a sad reminder of the incredibly racist world we live in. Respond to one issue, and the topic is instantly changed. I for one can tell you that Qatar is NOT perfect. We’ve got loads of things that we need to work on, but you tell me ONE country that’s perfect. The nation is quite young and we’ve seen some incredible developments in the past 15 years. I guess that when people see the lights, skyscrapers, fancy restaurants, and beautiful projects, they forget that Qatar is a developing nation. 

The US and UK have had hundreds of years to go through to try and sort themselves out (spoiler alert, they still have issues), but the point is, they’ve had the opportunity to rectify problems such as sexism (which still exists), racism (which still exists), and elitism (which still exists).

You know what word you read most often in articles related to Qatar and the World Cup in papers such as the Sunday Times and The Guardian? Alleged. Let me define that for you, (of an incident or a person) said, without proof, to have taken place”. The key part in that definition is ‘without proof’. 

Let me give it a go. Someone, somewhere, who prefers to remain anonymous, has claimed that The Wednesday Guardian allegedly funds hate crimes. Does that make it true? No. During the time that the allegations are being investigated, and proven that they weren’t true though, guess what’s happened? The damage has been done. The idea has been planted. Is this in any way fair? Why is it that we always hear that every person is innocent until proven guilty, yet the roles have been reversed with Qatar? To many (not all), we were guilty until proven innocent.

I then read sensational articles which, to me, throws responsible journalism out of the window.
The Independent says “Qatar 2022: Fifa investigation into World Cup vote ‘ignoring the new evidence’, critics claim”.

Wait, what? According to Associated Press, Garcia told FIFA’s congress of 209 member countries that “The vast majority of that material has been available to us for some time.” So what I understand is that the ‘evidence’ is already in play, not being ignored.

I also read articles claiming that hundreds of workers could die with the construction projects related to the world cup. In fact, people commented on this before a single stadium or World Cup project started. It’s great to know that there are so many Nostradamus type people out there, but how do you know? In the US 4,628 people were killed on the job in 2012, 806 of them were in construction and a majority (around 35%) of the deaths were due to falls. In 2012, 35 deaths were due to falls in Qatar. Either way, I would hope that Qatar is doing everything in its power to ensure that injuries and casualties are kept to a minimum no matter where you’re from. One organization in Qatar that works towards training workers to stay safe is the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHO). I didn’t need to do much research but online I found that Lusail City (a huge new project) has it’s General Requirements for Construction Health and Safety, publicly published here. It mentions that OHSAS 18001 is a minimum for health and safety requirement management.

Workers rights is something that’s incredibly important. There are locals and expats who live here and want to see change. The state has been working on changing legislation, building special task forces to investigate rights abuses, and is working on ensuring people know what their rights are in the first place.

Here are some government enforced rules to make sure that laborers are protected.

1-     Taking someone’s passport is ILLEGAL. If someone takes your passport, you can report them to the government and the organization will be fined.

2-     Workers may NOT work during certain hours when the sun is at peak or above a certain temperature

3-     All work sites need to ensure that workers have access to water, safety equipment and that they follow Health and Safety Regulations

4-     All employees must be paid on time. Employees can report when they have not been paid.

5-     Laborers who work under the sun during summer should not exceed 5 hours in the morning shift and never beyond 11:30am. More info here

Don’t forget that Qatar cooperated with Amnesty International where in other countries in the region, they weren’t even allowed into the country. The way I see it, Qatar’s saying, help us identify the issues so we can fix them.

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I thought that I’d take the time to respond to some of the comments I read online.

Qatar’s so small!

So what? I didn’t realize that having to travel a 1000 miles between stadiums was part of enjoying the match.

If size matters, then perhaps FIFA should add the geographic land size into their list of requirements. Oh but they can’t, because Qatar is part of the World and it’s called the WORLD Cup.

 

It’s hot!

How many countries in the world have a similar climate to Qatar? So is it fine to exclude all of them too? There are loads of people who actually live in this country already (2.2m in fact). I agree, it does indeed get hot. However most people aren’t hanging out during the mid day sun they’re indoors; or actually yesterday many were at the beaches when I went to Fuwairit (I recommend checking it out, that’s where the turtles lay their eggs too by the way).

Having said that, there are some awesome things happening here to make things more comfortable. Go to our traditional Souq Wagif and water mist is sprayed to keep you cool, the new Msheireb – Heart of Doha project is built in a way to block the sun and has automatic shades so people can enjoy walking around and shopping outside,   oh and the stadiums will have state of the art cooling technologies (some of which are already implemented since 2008). To take things a step further, the country’s also going to share the technology with other countries that need it.

Is it possible? Yes it is possible. Not only do stadiums in Qatar already have cooling, but I remember watching a video on YouTube about Stadiums in Texas that have cooling too. Go check it out.

 

Oh but I’ll have respect the country’s laws!

We all have to respect the laws of any country that we’re in right…? 

 

Qatar has a campaign to force people to cover up!

Wrong! A group of people in Qatar, put together a cause, to request people to dress modestly when it public. It’s not a campaign by the government or the state. It’s a group of Qataris, in Qatar, asking that people who visit Qatar, dress modestly. Nothing more. Do you have the right to ignore their request? You could. I for one like to respect the people in the country I’m visiting. You’re not planning to dress like Borat in his *cough* outfit right?

 

It’s a dry country, I want to drink!

You can drink! Qatar isn’t a dry country. Qatar does have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drink driving though. You can go to QDC and go buy a crate of beers if you want. You can go to a club or a hotel and enjoy your time. The only thing you can’t do is drink out on the streets. Having said that 1) There are special fan zones that will be much more lax with the rules and 2) are you here for  the football or not?

 

What are you going to do with all the stadiums? It’s a waste anyway.

Qatar’s said that stadiums will be dismantled and then rebuilt in other countries; in Africa for example. I think that’s pretty cool don’t you?

Qatar won’t let Israel be a part of the World Cup

The government has already stated that Israel would participate. In fact, Israeli athletes had competed previous in Qatar during the Tennish championships and the 2010 Indoor Championships.

But women have no rights in Qatar

Well I can’t speak for the whole of the Middle East, but here in Qatar, women absolutely have rights. A majority of Qataris who graduate from university are female. We have amazing female leaders such as Her Highness Sheikha Moza, Dr. Hessa Al Jaber the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Buthaina Al Ansari a leading business woman, Aisha al Mudhaihka the CEO of Injaz, an organization to encourage entrepreneurship and personal growth, and the list goes on.

 

But you guys have a population of only 2.2m

So what? Why can’t Qatar host the World Cup if we’ve only got 2.2m (as of today)? I don’t understand.

 

It’s not fair, Qatar’s rich, so they could campaign more.

Why is it not fair that the country can afford to campaign? Not many people knew about Qatar until we were bidding for the World Cup, it meant that we needed to share what our vision is, what we’re all about. The goal here is simple, to unite people under the banner of football. Why is it a bad thing that Qatar has more money? Doesn’t it mean that more will be spent on making sure that the event is amazing? Doesn’t it give confidence that Qatar can actually afford to turn all the promises made into reality?

 

Qatar lied, they said it would be done during summer, now they want to move it to winter.

No, Qatar didn’t ask for it to be moved to winter. Qatar said that IF FIFA wanted to move the World Cup date, they wouldn’t be against it.

 

Look let’s get this straight. Yes Qatar has issues. Yes they’re being worked on. Yes the people want Qatar to be a country the World can be proud of.

We read about some people demanding for a revote, but if the problem is that we have issues to resolve, then shouldn’t the demand be that we sort things out instead? Let’s all wait for the investigation report to be announced (with  the evidence of course) and until then, rather than slam Qatar, help Qatar become a better place for everyone.


All Qatar is asking for, is an opportunity to host an amazing World Cup event. All I’m saying is, give us a chance. 

 

 

  • Ali

    nicely done!!! respect bro,
    very logical remarks.
    Small size of Qatar is ideallllll for fans and people are making this an issue… i can imagine the frustration; sadly this is the world we live in, Qatar will be super crowdy; traffic jams n all but it will be epic here considering how much people love football.

  • hazim

    Actually, I’m not sure where you are read that the world cup should be moved because we are arab or muslim, Not once I have read this and I READ a lot. You spoil the rest of your arguments because you as well cannot make unbaised blogging.
    Qatar Like any country has the right to host the cup.. simple
    If irregularities are found and that is yet not the case then proceeding would take place.. again simple

    i highly suggest, you change the sites or God Knows where you get your information from. We are not victims, You are arguing things that no one is arguing about.

  • Aelfreda

    Hi Mr. Q,

    Great Blog and I totally agree. I just did a paper on the same topic and I also really think that Qatar is being discriminated against because it’s Arab and Muslim. Check out this distillation of all the racist attitudes held by the press: http://www.sportsgrid.com/soccer/6-reasons-the-time-has-come-to-strip-qatar-of-the-2022-world-cup/ Amongst all other irrational fears of the Arab world, the writer even invokes 9/11!!

    Given the yearly statistics, 7,816 Canadian workers will die on the job by 2022 (almost twice as many as that projected for Qatar) and nobody is accusing Canada of genocide or human rights violations!
    Claiming the weather as a problem is really discriminating against all Equatorial and Southern Hemisphere FIFA members. Football is no longer the possession of Europe and, however much America may want a chunk of the revenues. The game belonged to Africa, Asia and Latin America long before the Beckham family got relocated to LA.
    All countries have differences in dress code and Qatar really does not ask a lot out of foreigners. If European sunbathers can keep their tops on to respect of American laws in Hawaii, then I’m sure they can throw on a t-shirt and more-than-short-shorts to see a football game in a chilly air conditioned stadium. AND on that note, if anyone in the world can pull off a world class air conditioning system, it’s Qatar! You could make ice in Villagio Mall. Western observers need a little more respect, a little more trust and a little less jealousy!

  • Adam Simpson

    I agree completely with what Hazim wrote, and I’ll add another one: The number of workers that die on the job in a country of over 315 million people is not even remotely relevant to a country of just over 2 million people. The issue is the way (foreign) workers are treated in the 21st century. Certain standards are expected and they should be. The rules you mentioned don’t apply to anyone with even a tad bit of Wasta, and we both know what I’m talking about.

    Saying that the country “is improving” isn’t g0od enough, especially considering the nation’s income. One moment you’re saying “we’re still a developing country”, so take it easy on us; and, the next you’re agreeing that Qatar is a rich country and we deserve the right to campaign for the W.C. If the country is rich enough to win its bid based on a campaign where plenty of money is spent then its rich enough to enforce rules that respect the rights of foreign workers adequately. No one expects perfection. Brazil, South Africa, Germany, South Korea and the U.S. are not perfect, and although they are each unique, the problems these countries presented were considered reasonable. If they can manage to make enough people content with the WC being held in their country then so can Qatar; without all of the whining.

    Millions of westerners and easterners will expect to be given the freedom to enjoy themselves the way they could have in every single World Cup venue in the history of the cup, and the fact is Qatar will have to be even more flexible than you described. Yet, no one, yourself included has given any of us to feel confident, even a little, that the country is ready to deal with this burden.

    Lastly, the investigation was clearly stated to have dealt with hundreds of emails. The evidence looks bad, and you need to prepare yourself for the distinct possibility of the venue being changed. And yes, all countries with summer temperatures as hot and humid as Qatar should be eliminated from being considered. Life isn’t fair. Just as it isn’t fair that a nation of bedouin found themselves sitting on a bunch of oil, and nomads in other countries continue to live lives of destitution.

  • Adam Simpson

    Nice try using statistics of a country with 17 times the population. No one ever said that a country should never experience worker deaths, and that a certain number of mistake related deaths isn’t considered reasonable. But, in a country with the resources that Qatar has, it should be an absolute embarrassment to have the number of foreign workers dying because of almost non-existent enforcement of laws protecting them. And yet you say with your next breath that Qatar is the one country that can “pull off a world class air conditioning system”. Which is it? They have the resources to deal with expensive technological challenges, and yet they can’t enforce their labor laws like countries with less resources?

    And for the dress codes, name one country who has ever hosted, or even considered for hosting it, has a dress code remotely as strict as Qatar. “Chilly air-conditioned stadium”? Please get serious before posting.

  • You seem to be under the FALSE impression that being rich means the country is developed.
    Is Qatar investing resources to develop and improve the country? Yes. Is Qatar changing at a rapid pace, you’ll need to come live here to witness that for yourself.

    In regards to workers deaths. A life is a life. You don’t measure a life as a percentage of the total population. To say that the US has a population of millions and so in the grand scheme of things it isn’t so bad is a very foolish thing to say. A life is a life. Simple as that. There shouldn’t be ANY lives lost in Qatar or ANY country if anybody can avoid it. To act like Qatar is the only country where people die on the job is ignorant in my opinion (and no I’m not saying that you are saying that, I’m just stating how I feel).

    As for enforcing laws, do you have first hand experience or are you going based on assumptions? Qatar absolutely fines, shuts down companies and even jails those who violate the law. Most, if not all, of the major companies who are working on the World Cup projects are European by the way.

    Finally, in regards to dress codes. Did you even bother to read what I wrote? 1- we don’t have a strict dress code (find the law that says otherwise) 2- saying that other countries have had different laws so Qatar shouldn’t enforce their own (if they exist) is a very arrogant thing to say.

    I’m interested to know. Do you want Qatar to improve or do you simply not want to give the country a chance?

  • Let me correct you, I am referring to people’s comments that I have read. These comments are typically on the bottom of articles on various websites.

    Find a person who is 100% unbiased. I am not sure how bias ruins an argument. I for one believe a valid argument, despite nationality or personal beliefs, is just that, a valid argument. It’s up to you to read that the purpose of this blog was to respond to some common misconceptions.

    Take care of yourself.

  • Adam Simpson

    Actually, I’m under no such impression. I’m pointing out the double standard that you’re treating the wealth of Qatar, and that the resources that exist in the country is more than ample to adequately enforce existing laws. You’ve misconstrued and misunderstood (on purpose? I don’t know) what I wrote.

    Same problem with worker death statistics. You (and another commenter on the same post) point out the number of deaths in other countries to prove a point, and when I point out a huge problem with the comparison you say “a life is a life”. True, but that evades the point completely. The number of building and construction projects going on at any one time in the US and Qatar are wildly different. The US (and Canada, since another commenter used them for her comparison) is a much, much larger country, and sometime work that is somewhat dangerous has to be done, and people get hurt, sometimes serious. This is true in all countries at all times. However, as countries have had the resources to put regulations in place to keep workers safer, not 100%, but within reasonable ranges. Qatar is still failing to do this, and much of the improvements were done because of outside pressure. This is a symptom of a larger problem.

    “Qatar absolutely fines, shuts down companies and even jails those who
    violate the law. Most, if not all, of the major companies who are
    working on the World Cup projects are European by the way.”

    So, you have first hand knowledge of enforcement of companies in Qatar? You have worked, and seen first hand, and on a daily basis, what life is like for those working on large-scale construction projects?

    As far as where I live, and have lived and worked in the past, you seem to have come to the conclusion that I don’t have first hand knowledge of life in Qatar, why is that? Unfortunately, you’re dead wrong. Also, I’ve been living in the Middle East for over a decade, speak Arabic, and know literally dozens of people, both Arab and non-Arab, that have worked, and many that still work now, on large-scale construction in Qatar. You accuse others of making assumptions, and then do the same yourself.

    Unfortunately, life may be changing rapidly in Qatar, depending ones subjective (and in your case, heavily biased) opinion and perspective. But, that doesn’t mean it should have been awarded the W.C. I personally believe it shouldn’t have, for some of the reasons already mentioned by others, although certainly not all of them. But enough of them are accurate to eliminate Qatar from being an appropriate place for the W.C. Sorry, but it just isn’t a suitable place, too many problems. Everywhere has issues, but Qatar’s issues make unsuitable. And you’re criticisms are often just as unfair as those you accuse of the same. In English we call that hypocrisy.

  • Aelfreda

    Hi Adam,

    I love how some people never believe anything I say about the Arab world unless it’s negative.

    I was totally serious before posting and I think you should visit before accusing Qatar of having non-existent law enforcement. I know you have never visited or you’d never mock the strength of Qatari air conditioning! I also assume you haven’t visited because apparently you have confused Qatar with Saudi Arabia. I see shorts and sleeveless tops every time I go to Villagio mall and the nightclubs and 5-star hotels are as liberal as those in any European country. And YES there are night clubs and YES they serve alcohol. Turn off CNN, buy a ticket and travel a little.

    Nobody is saying that labour problems doesn’t exist in Qatar. Labour abuse exists worldwide. I know of very few countries where it is fun to be poor. YES we should all improve and Qatar has been trying really hard (but once again you’d have to visit to see it). Most Westerners (myself included) depend heavily on products made in shockingly inhumane conditions. Where do you think all those $5 t-shirts and $10 shrimp trays in Walmart come from? Nike factories in Indonesia still only pay $21 a week even after all the scandals and bad press.
    The poorest paid worker I met in Qatar (Indonesian maid) made about $100 a week with room, board, medical and a return ticket. It is not a fantastic salary and the work is hard, but unless you are living off the grid and abstaining from consumerism than you are just as guilty of exploitation in the West.

  • Adam Simpson

    Hello Aelfreda,

    I actually live, and have been living in the Middle East (including Qatar another Gulf country) for over a decade. So, I’m not talking as someone reading the NYT and telling you what life is like here.

    You seem to have misunderstood almost everything I said. I didn’t mock the strength of the air conditioning; instead, I was speaking strictly about the ability of a country with the resources to produce something technologically advance (as only a wealthy country can) and still doesn’t enforce labor laws that just about all of the other top 20-30 wealthiest countries seem to have much less problems with. And this is a huge drawback to the Qatar’s bid, in my, and many other people’s opinion. To say, “oh, they’re trying” or “they’re changing, give them time”, I say, when they’re ready then they can apply.

    I’m completely aware of what Villagio Mall’s social scene looks like. But does that represent everywhere the half-million tourists will be visiting? Will they be able to drink the way the way they have in every single other WC location, without exception? Will Qatari officials allow people to kiss and dance in public, like every other single location has? These are valid concerns that need to be addressed far more seriously. There are others, but I’ll leave it at that. The rest of your response had little to nothing to do with the points I made, since the countries you’re describing aren’t applying to host the WC. The standards are, and should be, different.

  • Aelfreda

    Hi Adam,

    I love how some people never believe anything I say about the Arab world unless it’s negative.

    I was totally serious before posting and I think you should visit before accusing Qatar of having non-existent law enforcement. I know you have never visited or you’d never mock the strength of Qatari air conditioning! I also assume you haven’t visited because apparently you have confused Qatar with Saudi Arabia. I see shorts and sleeveless tops every time I go to Villagio mall and the nightclubs and 5-star hotels are as liberal as those in any European country. And YES there are night clubs and YES they serve alcohol. Turn off CNN, buy a ticket and travel a little.

    Nobody is saying that labour problems doesn’t exist in Qatar. Labour abuse exists worldwide. I know of very few countries where it is fun to be poor. YES we should all improve and Qatar has been trying really hard (but once again you’d have to visit to see it). Most Westerners (myself included) depend heavily on products made in shockingly inhumane conditions. Where do you think all those $5 t-shirts and $10 shrimp trays in Walmart come from? Nike factories in Indonesia still only pay $21 a week even after all the scandals and bad press. In contrast, the poorest paid worker I met in Qatar (Indonesian maid) made about $100 a week with room, board, medical and a return ticket. It is not a fantastic salary and the work is hard, but unless you are living off the grid and abstaining from consumerism than you are just as guilty of exploitation in the West.

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.