By Beatrice Thomas
She joins a chorus of Qatari officials defending its hosting of the event amid ongoing worldwide criticism
Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup bid was prepared by young people who were capable of innovation and creativity that surpassed the experiences of more senior competitors in Europe, renowned Qatari cultural commentator Dr Elham Al Bar has said, it was reported.
Speaking during a TV programme on Kuwaiti channel Al Youm, she said Qatar learnt from the unsuccessful attempts made by Arab countries such as Morocco (four attempts) and Egypt (one attempt) in preparing its bid.
“Though they were not successful, they were of great consequence in inspiring young people to do something great for the Arab world. Further, Qatar holds successful records in hosting several regional and international sport events,” Gulf Times quoted her as telling the TV station.
Al Bar said the efforts extended to technical innovation, which could be applied to other Arab nations.
“For instance, the cooling technology that will be environment-friendly can be applied to other areas and countries with similar climate patterns,” she said. “Some people ask what benefit the people would get by spending something like $200bn on a sport project that would be used for a short period. The answer is that the strategy adopted by the country goes beyond that.”
“Some of the stadiums and sport facilities will be turned into various service and commercial projects, such as social and sport clubs, hotels, shopping malls and others, which would certainly improve the lives of the residents.”
Al Bar joined other senior Qatar officials in rejecting reports that several hundred workers have died working on the World Cup projects.
She said these were fabricated as work on these projects had not commenced at the time of the articles. “Besides, Nepalese officials and diplomats in Qatar have denied such reports by presenting true stories from the workers themselves,” she reportedly said.
The head of Qatar’s World Cup delivery committee claimed in May “there has not been a single injury or death on the World Cup projects”, saying “it’s not possible to have 400 deaths when you are still digging a hole in the ground”.
Amnesty International has led calls for improved workers' conditions in Qatar after a report in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper in September found that dozens of Nepali construction workers had died and that labourers were not given enough food and water.
In February it emerged more than 450 Indians working in Qatar have died in the past two years, according to Indian government figures obtained by news wire AFP under right of information laws. The figures follow similar data revealed to AFP by the Nepalese embassy in Doha, showing 191 deaths recorded in 2013, with many of them from "unnatural" heart failure, compared with 169 the year before.
The International Trade Union Confederation has also criticised the treatment of migrant labourers in Qatar, fearing the problem could worsen with the extra construction work needed for the tournament.
Dr Elham Al Bar should use her wisdom to expose the way laborers, maids, taxi drivers and many others are systematically abused by the System in Qatar and in the other GCC countries, instead of trying to fool the world with unfounded and untruth excuses.
When Qatar and other GCC countries, impose by law, a minimum salary, a maximum number of working hours per week and 1 month paid anual leave to all human beings who work there, you may then have some ground to defend the credibility of your country.
Until then, you are also part of the problem.