10 reasons the UAE should host Qatar’s 2022 World Cup
From stadiums to the World Expo, here’s why the emirates are better suited for FIFA 2022.Neil Churchill November 6, 2014
We all know the decision to award Qatar the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup was slightly controversial, to say the least. The news this week is that FIFA is eyeing a winter tournament in either November/December 2022 or 10 months earlier in January/February, to avoid the searing summer heat.
But while the seasonal move solves the climate problem, it fails to address the other controversies: lack of infrastructure, labour rights, alcohol ban, and of course whether Qatar’s success was due to bribes paid to voting members. Whatever the outcome on when the tournament will be held, the controversy will not fade away. Which is why we think that the UAE should instead be given the rights to host. Here’s why:
Qatar said it would build nine new stadiums for the World Cup and refurbish three. FIFA requires at least eight venues to be used. Currently, just two have had their formal designs released, with building due to begin next year – so there’s a long way to go still.
In contrast, the UAE already has at least 10 stadiums fit to hold football matches. That’s not including the number of venues that could host temporary stands, such as the Sevens and Meydan Racecourse, which would also avoid the white elephant scenario that will surely plague Qatar’s new nine.
One of the biggest construction projects for Qatar 2022 is the building of an underground train network. While that would regenerate the city for the foreseeable future, the UAE and Dubai in particular already has decent public transport in place. The two metro lines in Dubai have been running successfully for five years and the soon-to-be-opened tram will also offer support around the Marina area. There are upwards of 20,000 registered taxis in the UAE, compared to Qatar’s 3,000 and the UAE has several private taxi services in operation, which have been outlawed in Qatar. 3. Labour rights
It is a sensitive subject here in the Gulf, but it needs to be addressed. According to Humans Rights Watch, around 4,000 workers will die before the first ball is kicked at Qatar 2022 – a bloody cost from building nine new stadiums. Qatar itself admits there have already been almost 1,000 fatalities. Yes, much of the UAE’s construction work over the last decade has been thanks to labourers from countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal, but since 2008 workers’ rights have been more advanced in the emirates. Not only that, but with far less construction work required, the dangers will not be anything like those in Qatar.
Here it really isn’t a contest. Qatar currently has 10,000 hotel rooms – a shortfall of 50,000 that will be needed to host the estimated 300,000 football fans in 2022. Currently, Dubai alone has around 85,000 rooms, with an additional 30,000 to be completed by the end of 2016. Abu Dhabi has more than 22,000 hotels rooms currently, with a further 7,350 in the pipeline.
5. The Expo
Two years before the 2022 World Cup is the 2020 World Expo, and it was awarded last year to Dubai. It is the biggest non-sporting event in the world and is expected to attract 25 million visitors over the six-month period. Apart from Turkey, Dubai also beat off competition from Russia and Brazil. Now given that Brazil held this year’s FIFA World Cup, and Russia recently held the Winter Olympics and will hold the 2018 World Cup, surely by non-scientific logic that suggests the UAE is more than able to host in 2022. 6. Air connectivity
In a recent global study Dubai came top for air connectivity, which holds true of the emirate’s sell that ‘two-thirds of the world is within an eight hour flight’. Qatar does have the busy Hamad International Airport but Dubai International has been the fastest growing airport by footfall for the last few years, and recently overtook London’s Heathrow as the world’s busiest. What’s more, by 2022 Dubai International won’t even be the big fish anymore. Dubai World Central will then be fully operational and will be the biggest airport in the world. 7. It’s still a win for the Middle East
One of the real shames about the controversy surrounding Qatar’s winning bid is that it’s taken away from the region’s success. 2022 will be the first time the World Cup has been hosted in the Middle East, and if it leaves Qatar - depending on if proof is found that bribes were paid to voting members - every effort should be made to keep it within the region. Every country from the GCC to the Levant should celebrate an Arab country holding the FIFA World Cup for the first time.
8. Party atmosphere
One thing that surely can't be argued is that the UAE's nightlife is far better than Qatar's. With a huge selection of buzzing venues, including awesome rooftop bars and brilliant beach clubs, there really is no competition. It's no secret that in both countries, many of the best venues are located in hotels. So when you take into account the fact that Qatar currently has fewer hotels – around 700 fewer - simple maths then suggests it’s going to be much harder for football fans to find a place to party. And that doesn't even take into account the many huge special events that the UAE is capable of hosting, such as Sandance, where thousands of revellers descend onto The Palm's Nasimi Beach in pursuit of a good time.
9. It has had practice
One of the lesser talked about shocks behind Qatar’s winning bid is that the small nation doesn’t host a huge number of sports events currently. Its biggest events this year are the athletics Diamond League meeting, the men’s world handball championships, the FINA world swimming championships and the Qatar squash world open. It also holds the Qatar Open (tennis) and the Qatar Masters (golf). Not a bad roster of sporting events at all, but in terms of footfall and size, it’s fairly paltry compared to the UAE. The emirates hosts the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi GP, the Dubai 7s, three huge men’s golf tournaments, two big tennis championships, Pakistan’s home cricket matches, the Dubai World Cup – the richest event in horse racing – and even the Red Bull air race. Yes, none of these events are even close to being of the size and logistical framework that is required for a World Cup, but by the principle of not running before you can walk, the UAE is confidently strutting compared to Qatar’s crawl.
10. The UAE could hold it right now
Going back to the statistic that the UAE currently has around 700 more hotels than Qatar does, and also that its current infrastructure is better, and it has more existing stadiums, in summary the UAE would require a lot less development to be ready in time for 2022. In fact, if the tournament was dropped on the emirates tomorrow, it would make a pretty good job at hosting – certainly better than Qatar would. While redevelopment of Qatar and Doha in particular will be beneficial to future generations and the country’s growth, the UAE would require less projects, less danger, less money and overall less uncertainty if it was to be the host.