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Once they got here, a Qatar World Cup was unthinkable. Now it’s right here | Qatar World Cup 2022 Information

Doha, Qatar – Shehar Bano Rizvi moved from the effervescent, ever-expanding metropolis of Karachi to a calmer Doha quickly after her marriage in 2004.

The then-23-year-old Pakistani expat was not impressed when she arrived within the Qatari capital, considering she had landed in the course of a desert in additional methods than one. The streets had been empty and the purchasing choices scarce. A solitary five-star lodge, a primary mall and a smattering of workplace buildings stood in West Bay.

“My husband had a really primary driving rule for me: in case you get misplaced, comply with the instructions to the Corniche [waterfront promenade] and it is possible for you to to navigate your method residence,” Rizvi mentioned, recalling her first experiences getting round Doha at a time when apps had been exceptional.

Quick-forward 18 years and West Bay is buzzing. It’s Doha’s prime enterprise district and residential to an ever-busier skyline populated by increasingly skyscrapers. Shiny new buildings alongside the shores of the Gulf bask within the solar all day and placed on a glittering mild present at evening.

Doha’s metamorphosis extends past right here although, with new districts, cultural hubs and state-of-the-art venues having remodeled the cityscape.

Human rights organisations and media reviews have mentioned Qatar’s improvement has come at the price of labour rights. Considerations about low wages, poor dwelling circumstances and employee security have been persistently raised by rights teams and critics of the Gulf nation internet hosting the World Cup.

Hitting again, Qatari officers level to latest reforms to labour legal guidelines, together with a common minimal wage and an easing of restrictions on overseas employees who wish to change employers. Officers have additionally criticised Western media for what they name biased and inaccurate protection of Qatar and its preparations for the event.

Qatar, an energy-rich nation that declared independence solely 5 many years in the past, received the suitable to host the World Cup in 2010. Its transformation has additionally coincided with a speedy enhance in its inhabitants – at the moment, practically three million individuals – the overwhelming majority of whom are migrant employees, principally from South Asian nations.

“Qatar’s independence was in 1971, so we ha[d] sure insurance policies that don’t match now,” Faisal al-Mudakha, editor-in-chief of the Gulf Occasions, advised Al Jazeera.

“Now we’ve the World Cup,” he mentioned. “We’re speaking about 12 years of reform of coverage … [that is being] carried out due to the World Cup  -but it [has been] fast-forwarded. And I feel after the World Cup, it’ll additionally proceed primarily based on wants and to fulfill worldwide regulation.”

Concentrate on sport

Six-lane highways, a sparkly-clean metro prepare system and commuter buses that now type Qatar’s transport hub had been a distant dream within the early 2000s, when the considered a tiny nation like Qatar internet hosting a soccer World Cup was past imagining.

Shehar Bano Rizvi and her family outside the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor before the opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Shehar Bano Rizvi and her household exterior Al Bayt Stadium earlier than the opening sport of the World Cup [Courtesy Shehar Bano Rizvi]

“I keep in mind attending the opening ceremony of the 2006 Asian Video games in disbelief {that a} nation of Qatar’s dimension might host such a giant occasion,” mentioned Rizvi, a photographer and an creator of a e book on Pakistani delicacies.

“On that chilly, wet December evening on the model new Khalifa Worldwide Stadium, it grew to become clear that Qatar was shifting its focus in direction of sports activities, tradition and training.”

The nation formalised that change within the following years beneath its Nationwide Imaginative and prescient 2030, an bold improvement plan geared toward diversifying its economic system, slashing its carbon footprint and attaining social progress.

Sports activities are a key pillar of that imaginative and prescient. Since 2012, Qatar has celebrated an annual sports activities day each February. The event is marked as a public vacation, permitting residents to take part in sports activities and fitness-related actions.

Again then, in keeping with Rizvi, the variety of ladies and women in sports activities was negligible.

“My daughter took up soccer as a baby however left it after some time as a result of there have been no all-girls groups,” she mentioned. “However now, as a young person, she performs in an academy that has introduced her worldwide publicity and given her an opportunity to fulfill her soccer idols.

“And it’s not simply her, so many Qatari feminine youngsters flip as much as follow periods and video games with their fathers, who appear genuinely proud and may be seen cheering them on from the sidelines.”

Nonetheless, there was lackadaisical progress in ladies’s soccer on the larger stage. The Qatari ladies’s soccer workforce has not performed a aggressive match in just a few years and has dropped out from FIFA’s rankings, whereas many youngsters and younger ladies cease enjoying as they become old.

‘It wasn’t nearly Qatar’

Regardless of the gradual progress on the soccer pitch, ladies have been on the forefront of instructional and cultural progress within the nation.

Sheikh Moza bint Nasser, the second spouse of former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, was pivotal in establishing Qatar’s Training Metropolis in 2003, the place a number of famend worldwide universities have arrange native campuses.

Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad, the present emir’s sister, heads the humanities and tradition scene within the type of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA).

The organisation has established a number of museums throughout the nation that concentrate on Arab and Islamic artwork, Qatar’s nationwide historical past, sports activities and an interactive youngsters’s museum which is ready to open quickly.

Eeman Abed (second from left), has seen Qatar's entertainment scene grow from a handful of parks in the early 2000s to a thriving hub of arts and culture
Eeman Abed, second from left, has seen Qatar’s leisure scene develop from a handful of parks within the early 2000s to a thriving hub of arts and tradition [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]

The cultural centres have turn into a well-liked leisure possibility for a lot of who, for years, had few leisure alternate options.

“It was very primary,” Eeman Abed, a Palestinian who has been dwelling in Qatar for greater than 20 years, mentioned. “Go to the park, have a stroll on the Corniche or eat out on the weekend,” she added with a shrug.

However because the nation moved ahead and Doha grew to a thriving hub of arts and tradition, Abed added, it took lots of its expats alongside.

“We used to stay in a small home in outdated Doha and after transferring throughout town over time, we’ve now settled in The Pearl,” she mentioned, referring to the upmarket synthetic island with Mediterranean-inspired housing and seashores.

That’s the place Rizvi lived together with her husband, who works for Qatar Inventory Trade, when the nation received World Cup internet hosting rights.

Rizvi remembers a festive evening as individuals got here out with their maroon and white Qatari flags and nationwide songs thundered out of automobiles.

“It wasn’t nearly Qatar,” she says. “It was about an Arab Muslim nation internet hosting the world’s largest occasion and that’s precisely what the West is unable to fathom,” she provides, referring to the continued criticism that Qatar has confronted since that evening in December 2010.

However with the occasion now beneath method, each a part of Doha’s vacationer hotspots has been stuffed up by worldwide followers – from the West and past. They’re making an attempt on native meals and vogue, indulging in banter with native followers, and bringing their festivities to the Gulf shores.



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