Qatar have been pulling out all stops as they gear up for the 2022 World Cup. Be it cutting edge technology incorporated into stadiums, world-class infrastructure, stadiums that are more of architectural marvels - the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) are in overdrive.
Keeping in line with their tagline for the tournament, Deliver Amazing, Qatar have been fine-tuning their preparations at every possible juncture. The Asian champions just hosted the 2019 Club World Cup that Liverpool won and the Arabian Gulf Cup. Secretary General of the SC, Hassan Al Thawadi, feels that hosting these competitions has helped Qatar prepare for the sport's greatest spectacle in terms of the challenges in ticketing, security, travel, accommodation & more.
"Both tournaments showed we are on the right track to delivering an outstanding World Cup in 2022. We learned a lot across every functional area, whether it be ticketing, security, communications, travel, accommodation, protocol and others. Both events were invaluable – and we expect the Club World Cup in 2020, plus the event we host in 2021, will be exactly the same. They are all vital learning experiences," he said.
"Despite the successes, we know we still have a long way to go in order to deliver the best possible tournament for fans, players and officials in 2022. We are still learning and there remain plenty of challenges. However, we are proud of both tournaments and pleased with the feedback we have received so far. We will carefully assess the constructive criticism and apply the lessons learned in 2020 and beyond," he added.
Mr. Thawadi also touched upon the hospitality that was extended to the first-time visitors to the country during the Club World Cup. He feels that the visitors got a feel of the Qatari culture and Arab hospitality.
"It was a key test – and as we've been saying would be the case for many years, those fans were welcomed with open arms. We have always said that we want to showcase Qatari and Arab hospitality – and that's exactly what we did during the Club World Cup. The fans discovered a very friendly country which was prepared to go the extra mile in order to deliver a memorable fan experience.
"We know, however, that there are areas where we can improve the fan experience."
The Doha Metro is likely to play a key role during the 2022 World Cup to help fans get from one venue to the other. The Red, Green and Gold lines of the Metro was operational during the Club World Cup and Gulf Cup and Al Thawadi says SC will study how the Metro will help ease the fans' travel.
"One of our biggest challenges in 2022 will be getting groups of people from A to B. Shuttling fans, players and officials between their hotels, training sites, stadiums and fan zones will require careful planning. Having the metro operational during the two recent tournaments was a huge advantage. It is very convenient for everyone. It is also the cheapest and quickest way of getting around Qatar. Huge credit must go to Qatar Rail for providing such an exceptional experience.
"One of our tasks now is to look carefully at the entire journey the fans take. Did they find it easy to get to a metro station? Did they take advantage of the free travel on match days? What about the journey on foot from the metro station to the stadium? Then once they arrived at the stadium, how quickly did they come through security and get to their seats? These are all questions we need to assess and review over the coming months."
He also added that four stadiums are in the final stages of delivery - Education City Stadium, Al Bayt Stadium, Al Rayyan Stadium and Al Thumama Stadium.