QNA New York
HE the Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Hassan al-Thawadi says Qatar would welcome everyone to enjoy the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East in three years' time.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, HE the Secretary General said Qatar 2022 will be a tournament for everyone — whatever their background.
Al-Thawadi was speaking during the 2019 Concordia Summit, held on the sidelines of UNGA.
He was taking part in a question and answer session titled 'Sport's Transformational Power: The first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East'.
The session was hosted by NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin.
"Everyone will be welcome in Qatar — this will be an inclusive tournament," said al-Thawadi.
"It's the first World Cup in an Arab, Middle Eastern country and that's a great opportunity. We don't all necessarily share the same point of view but our differences should not separate us — we should appreciate our differences. Our humanity is the commonality between us.
"Throughout history people have constantly visited Qatar and felt safe. It is a welcoming nation and we will host a welcoming tournament."
Al-Thawadi said Qatar 2022 was already uniting the region — three years before the big kick-off and despite the ongoing political blockade.
"Politically, there are issues, and my country is currently subject to an illegal blockade. But if you look at it from the people's point of view, the region is together. People are supportive of the World Cup.
"We recently opened up a volunteering forum and over 200,000 people from the region expressed an interested in taking part, including many people from blockading states.
"We also launched the logo for our tournament a few weeks ago, which we projected onto iconic buildings in cities across the region. The support and reaction were just invigorating and a significant portion came from blockading nations. It confirms the vision we have — sport is a unifying platform and nothing is more powerful."
Al-Thawadi went on to say that Qatar is determined that its tournament will leave a lasting legacy well after the final whistle on December 18, 2022.
"For me, the measure of success will be in 2025 and 2026, when you look at young people and see that they have directly or indirectly benefitted from our hosting of the World Cup. Success will be finding individuals where this tournament has bettered their lives."
Another area being boosted by Qatar's hosting of the FIFA World Cup is social development, including reforms to Qatar's labor market, said al-Thawadi.
"Before 2010, Qatar committed to worker welfare reforms but when the spotlight came from the World Cup it served as a catalyst to accelerate those reforms. Since then, we have cooperated with international organizations and made extensive progress in areas such as health and safety and others.
"One area we are very proud of is the reimbursement of recruitment fees, which many migrant workers are forced to pay in order to move abroad to a job which will support their families. We coordinated with a number of our contractors and they have agreed to reimburse any worker who says they paid recruitment fees — irrespective of whether there is a paper trail. We are on track to reimburse around $20mn to workers by 2021 — including many who are not engaged directly on World Cup projects. That's an example of the legacy we want to leave."
In addition to his appearance at the Concordia Summit, al-Thawadi also held bilateral meetings with numerous figures and organizations from public, private and civil society, including Centre for Sports and Human Rights, Red Cross/Red Crescent, International Rescue Committee, World Economic Forum and Uber.
The Concordia Annual Summit, which launched in 2011, takes place on an annual basis in New York City on the sidelines of UNGA. It convenes the world's most prominent business, government and non-profit leaders to examine the world's most pressing challenges to identify avenues for collaboration, foster dialogue and enable effective partnerships for positive social impact.
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