Qatar World Cup 2022: Everything You Need to Know About Qatar
Let’s meet the 2022 hosts. Qatar, a lower Michigan-resembling peninsula in the Persian Gulf, was a quiet corner of the British Empire until independence in 1971. The time difference between Qatar, Europe and America is favorable. The Al-Thani family has held sway over the peninsula for several hundred years. It is one of the nine modern emirates. Its wealth is extraordinary; and because this bounty is spread amongst so few citizens, Qataris enjoy the second highest per-capita income in the world. Much has been made about the Arab world hosting its first World Cup, but it should be noted that Qatar has only a 40% Arab population; there are almost as many Indians and Pakistanis in the country. While Qatar has a population of only 1.7 million, the World Cup has been held in small countries such as Uruguay and Sweden before.
Twelve ambitious and audacious stadia are planned; of which 6 would be in Doha, the capitol.. One of the host cities, Lusail, barely exists as more than lines across the desert. As this well-viewed video shows, the proposed stadia, if built, may make returning fans echo Rutger Hauer’s closing line in Blade Runner, “I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe.” And while average temps in the summer are in the high 90s, it’s not as if prior World Cups haven’t been played in fiery furnaces before. Just ask Jack Charlton how much he enjoyed Orlando in the summer of 1994.
While the physical climate may not be ideal, what of the cultural climate? Is this conservative emirate ready to welcome the world? “We are looking at 2022 to be an event mainly for families to attend – on the other hand alcohol will be available,” proclaimed Hassan Abdulla Al Thawadi, chief executive of Qatar 2022. Not exactly encouraging for the world’s biggest unified celebration, it’s hard to imagine celebrity fans such as Mick Jagger and Bill Clinton enjoying the games and festivities with nothing stronger than mint tea. More serious concerns than partying exist. The U.K. Foreign Office offers some strong warnings on travel to the country, stating;
The importation of narcotics, alcohol, pornography, pork products and religious books and material into Qatar is illegal. All passenger luggage is scanned for contents at Doha Airport Arrivals Hall. DVDs and videos may be subject to scrutiny and may be censored. In particular, the penalties for possession of or trade in drugs are severe, often resulting in prison sentences.
It is a punishable offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. Offenders may incur a prison sentence or deportation. Alcohol is, however, available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system. You should not carry alcohol with you, including in your car (except to take it on the day of collection from the warehouse to your home).
You should dress modestly when in public, including whilst driving. Women should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts. You should behave courteously at all times. Any intimacy in public between men and women (including between teenagers) can lead to arrest. Homosexual behaviour is illegal in Qatar.
While Qatar is experiencing rapid growth, that growth may be being built on modern slave labor. The C.I.A. has this to say on the issue; “Qatar is a destination country for men and women from South and Southeast Asia who migrate willingly, but are subsequently trafficked into involuntary servitude as domestic workers and laborers, and, to a lesser extent, commercial sexual exploitation; the most common offense was forcing workers to accept worse contract terms than those under which they were recruited; other conditions include bonded labor, withholding of pay, restrictions on movement, arbitrary detention, and physical, mental, and sexual abuse…[T]he Qatari government has yet to take significant action to investigate, prosecute, and punish trafficking offenses; the government continues to lack formal victim identification procedures and, as a result, victims of trafficking are likely punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.” The U.K. Foreign Office adds, “[p]otential job seekers should also be aware that under Qatari Labour Law the employer’s permission (an Exit Permit) to leave Qatar is required on every occasion.”
Much can change between now and 2022. Much can change because of 2022. For all the suspicion, sleaze and corruption in FIFA, there is a sincere idealistic quality to Sepp Blatter’s proclamation that “for 2018 and 2022 we go to new lands, because the FIFA World Cup has never been in eastern Europe or the Middle East. So, I’m a happy president when we speak of the development of football.” Of course, Australia, with growing love for football and with their long history of widespread sports participation and spectating, would have been fertile new soil for the Cup as well, but as we all know, if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.