Qatar has taken a leadership role in terms of workers' welfare reforms across the region, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) Hassan al-Thawadi has said.
Speaking during the FT Live: Future of Football 2018 conference in Doha, al-Thawadi said Qatar's legacy projects are already making a major impact - more than four years before the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off.
Taking part in a panel session alongside Alexey Sorokin, Chief Executive Officer of the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee, al-Thawadi said: "The way Qatar has taken leadership in terms of workers' welfare reforms across the region is a perfect example of how major sporting events can leave a legacy even before the event is held."
"In Qatar, we have utilised the World Cup to accelerate reforms. Even our most ardent critics are impressed at the progress being made. I'm personally very proud of the steps we have taken in relation to workers' rights, including the provision of standards, accommodation and health and safety. The World Cup has already started paying dividends for Qatar."
Al-Thawadi reiterated Qatar's commitment to hosting a tournament that will benefit the entire region - despite the ongoing political blockade.
"This World Cup has always been a Middle East and Arab World Cup," he continued. "To think there are people in the region who might not enjoy the first World Cup in the Middle East is very disappointing. We look forward to this matter being sorted out. Football is for the people - and we want this tournament to reach the people of the region."
Al-Thawadi also touched on Qatar's transportation and accommodation plans.
"We have developed significant transportation infrastructure, including the metro, expressways and walkways. The metro will be fully operational by 2019, which is very impressive in terms of the size of the project. I experienced my first ride yesterday, between Lusail and Al Wakrah, which took about 35 minutes."
Al-Thawadi continued: "Accommodation-wise, we are continuing to work with Qatar Tourism Authority. We are looking at various options, including hotel rooms, serviced apartments and cruise ships. We are carefully considering capacity as we don't want to introduce rooms which are not required beyond 2022."
The recent World Cup in Russia was a source of inspiration for Qatar, said al-Thawadi.
"Russia hosted a fantastic World Cup and set a high benchmark for us. We sent more than 100 people to Russia and gained valuable experience in a range of areas, including security, venue management, transportation and others."
As a result of its success during Russia 2018, al-Thawadi said Qatar was considering its own version of the FIFA Fan ID.
"Fan ID was a great success and its something we're looking to emulate in Qatar," said al-Thawadi. "We're looking forward to evolving the system and making it work for our tournament."
Sorokin said his main advice to Qatar was to ensure all the infrastructure projects are completed as early as possible.
"Build everything on time and as far out from the tournament as possible," he advised. "You need enough time to test the stadiums and facilities. Never underestimate the importance of test matches at new stadiums. The test matches helped us immensely."
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