The Business Year

Hassan Al Thawadi

QATAR - Health & Education

Supremely Confident

Secretary General, Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee


Hassan Al Thawadi, 34, currently serves as Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the organization responsible for coordinating the delivery of infrastructure and development projects for a successful 2022 FIFA World Cup. He was directly involved in promoting Qatar’s bid to host the event. Thawadi has been named in Sport Business’ Top 20 Innovators in Sport, Gulf Business’ Top 100 World’s Most Influential Arabs, and Power 500 World’s Most Influential Arabs. He also serves on the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Qatar Holding (QH), and holds board positions in Hassad Food Company, Kara Hospitality, and Qatar Rail.

How is the Qatar National Vision 2030 shaping the 2022 World Cup project, and how are you working to ensure that it is a sustainable undertaking? The four pillars of […]

How is the Qatar National Vision 2030 shaping the 2022 World Cup project, and how are you working to ensure that it is a sustainable undertaking?

The four pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030 underpin the projects that the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee and our stakeholders will deliver for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the post-tournament legacy. All projects will realize tangible and substantial human, economic, and social benefits. A lasting legacy of new sporting infrastructure for schools and communities, with combined sports development, education, and health benefits will be created. To be able to fulfil the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s potential to stimulate growth, though, it is our responsibility to engage with the people of the region to ensure they benefit from these varied opportunities. A nation-building project of this scale requires the best talent. This talent needs to be identified and then continuously developed. One of our main initiatives in this regard is the establishment of a center of excellence, hosted in Qatar. The objective is to focus on developing promising young local and regional talent. The center of excellence will have an initial focus on skills relating to the sport industry, in tourism and hospitality. Our idea is to ensure that people from all over the Middle East are represented at the center of excellence. We are also looking into volunteering schemes that will ensure that the young people of Qatar and the region play a visible front-line role in hosting the FIFA World Cup. They will be our most important ambassadors for the region in 2022.

How will Qatar and the region benefit from the tournament, and why is football important here?

The Middle East is an untapped market of enormous potential for FIFA and global football. I believe that the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will act as a catalyst for positive change in a whole number of domains. This is a region with a young and vibrant population, which has a real passion for football. Also, Middle Eastern and Asian football is on the rise. Three out of the eight teams in the quarterfinals of the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup in Turkey were from the Middle East or Asia: Iraq, Uzbekistan, and South Korea. Our FIFA World Cup will be the first time that a sporting event of such magnitude is hosted in the Middle East, and we are convinced that it will result in a long-term positive impact on the region as a whole. The sport industry is growing rapidly and according to a 2011 AT Kearney study is valued at an approximately $625 billion, with the bulk of growth coming from new and developing markets. These developing markets—including the Middle East and North Africa—have an expected annual growth of 7%. Moreover, according to a study commissioned by the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee and undertaken by Grant Thornton, the value of the hospitality and tourism sectors in Middle Eastern countries alone is approximately $655 billion and contributes 8.6% of GDP—this is set to grow to around $2 trillion­—increasing the contribution to as much as 10%. The FIFA World Cup provides this region with the opportunity to take on responsibility and leadership in these growing industries. It provides a platform for using the power of football to foster knowledge and understanding toward the region and to break down social barriers and misconceptions, thus opening up international opportunities and dialogue. Through football we can foster mutual cooperation and build lasting partnerships. And because of the emphasis we have placed on innovation in our hosting concept, greater economic diversification is to be expected as a result of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The period between now and 2022 will incorporate extensive preparation and intense economic activity and development that will result in a boost for the entire region, and especially for the region’s people. We can contribute to a better social, cultural, and economic future for our people, for Qatar, and for the region.

How will infrastructure and organization avert unnecessary problems during the tournament, and how will Qatari society directly benefit?

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will bring people together, united by a shared love of football. The tournament will be hosted by Qatar, but will very much showcase the best of the Middle East and North Africa to the rest of the world, providing visitors the opportunity to appreciate the region’s unique mix of cultures. This will be the world’s most compact FIFA World Cup. All matches will be held within 60 kilometres of central Doha, with easy commutes between attractions. The whole FIFA Delegation (delegates, officials and the Local Organising Committee) will work and reside in a single, dedicated FIFA cluster for the duration of the tournament. Advanced transit systems will reduce travel times, lower travel costs, and allow fans to see two matches in one day. Fans will be able to participate in more events, socialize, interact with sponsors, and experience local culture. In addition, teams will stay in one Team Base Camp, or in high-quality hotels within easy reach of venues, for the duration of the tournament.

What efforts are being made to reduce the negative environmental impact of the World Cup?

Throughout the process of design and construction, focus will be given to the promotion of environmentally sustainable development and to comprehensively reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the tournament. Proposals are being developed for a visible post-tournament legacy, based on passive, integrated design and onsite renewable energy generation. We are committed to delivering a carbon -neutral tournament, inclusive of international air travel emissions. We committed considerable resources during the bidding process to prove that the cooling technology (which will cool open-air stadiums, training grounds, and outdoor fan areas) works. The technology has already been in use since 2008 at Al Sadd Stadium. During the bid, we demonstrated that this technology could be powered by renewable energy. Our commitment to forging ahead with implementing and developing these technologies is grounded in the legacy it will offer to Qatar and countries with similar climates. It will enable sports to be played 12 months of the year. The application of this technology is not limited to stadiums or sports venues. It can be applied in public spaces, so outdoor life can be enjoyed by countries near the equator all year round, regardless of climate.

“ The Middle East is an untapped market of enormous potential for FIFA and global football. “

Is there a strong tradition of football in Qatar?

Qatar is a young country, but we have a football tradition, which we are proud of and aim to build on in the coming years. Our past successes include finishing runner-up in the 1981 FIFA U-20 World Cup, beating England and Brazil in the quarter and semi-finals respectively, before losing to a strong West German side in the final. We then also reached the semi-finals of the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championships in Italy (in the U17 category), before translating that success to the grand stage during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Our golden generation of players, including legendary striker Mubarak Mustafa, led Qatar to the quarterfinals in Barcelona, and a regional Gulf Cup triumph later the same year. We then hosted the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1995, and continued with our regional successes in 2004 and 2006 by winning the Gulf Cup and the Doha Asian Games. Our country is currently making giant strides in the world of football for a country of its size. Al Sadd, a Qatari club, won the AFC Champions League in 2011 and finished in third place in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in the same year. We already have an excellent array of sporting infrastructure in place, and we are placing an emphasis on youth development to ensure that the next generation of Qatari players can compete at the highest level in 2018 and in 2022.



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