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‘An oasis of stability in turbulent times’ – Qatar emerges as a sporting hub in between a challenging pandemic

The Middle-East nation inaugurated their fourth 2022 World Cup stadium on Friday…

On December 18, exactly two years before they are set to hold the final of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar unveiled the fourth stadium for the marquee event – the Ahmad Bin Ali stadium in Al Rayyan. 

Also the Qatar National Day, December 18 marked yet another milestone in the Arab nation’s preparations for the world’s biggest footballing festival. They have now inaugurated four out of the eight planned venues for the World Cup. And in the process, they have proved their steely resolve and commitment to the beautiful game even in between what can only be called a challenging period for the sport all over the globe. 

And the commitment goes beyond just delivering the 2022 World Cup projects on time. Qatar are proclaiming to the continent and the world at large that they can be counted upon to support the game of football, nevermind the obstacles. 

The country has faced several challenges, from an economic blockade to Covid-19. However, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has put in concerted efforts to ensure the projects have not suffered. 

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Now, they have gone a step further. 

The entire world has been affected by the turbulence that has been set off by a pandemic that has had an unprecedented impact across all areas, not just sport. Economic growth has stagnated across the globe, with countries slowly recovering now. 

Sporting calendars were thrown into dustbins and projects were shelved. But Qatar has offered a stable presence in the midst of all this. 

To take an example, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had been in a predicament, having had to cancel their entire international schedule in 2020 and were not in a position to hold their marquee club competitions as well – the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup

While the AFC Cup was shelved by the AFC due to the restrictions thrown up by the pandemic, doing the same with the AFC Champions League would have resulted in huge financial losses for the continental body. It was Qatar who offered a helping hand to the AFC and hosted the West Zone and East Zone tournament after implementing a bio-bubble and Covid-19 protocols. 

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The tournaments were conducted without incidents and the grand final is set to take place on Saturday with Iran‘s Persepolis taking on South Korea‘s Ulsan Hyundai. For clubs, players and fans, what would otherwise have been a year of disappointment, Qatar offered a chance to return to a measure of normalcy, at least on the pitch. 

And that is not all. The Middle-East nation will also host an Arab Cup in 2021 as they prepare for the 2022 World Cup. Qatar’s emergence as a sporting hub in Asia cannot be ignored. Doha was selected as the hosts for the 2030 Asian Games earlier this week as well.  

The Amir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, perfectly encapsulated Qatar’s rise in profile when he stated, “On the National Day of our country, I congratulate our people on this occasion, which comes in a year of challenges, but is a testament to the process of giving and the achievements that have been achieved over generations and at all levels, and has made Qatar an oasis of stability, development and prosperity.”

An oasis in the middle of turbulence, indeed!

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