First of all I have to say I'm really disappointed at how some people have been acting around here, I really thought you were better than that. There is a lot of prejudice and hate and I expected more from people, especially in a community where we have united against homophobia, sexism, racism...etc.
A lot of people here are Americans and I know you had high hopes for hosting the World Cup again, your bid was really great and so were the others but I suppose it was Qatar's turn to have the honor of hosting the competition. I want to give all the bidding countries kudos:
Belgium and the Netherlands
Portugal and Spain
The United States of America
and South Korea
The presentations were AWESOME! I also want to congratulate Russia on getting the 2018 bid, I can't wait until that happens, I have great admiration for the country and the people!So let's talk about Qatar!
First of all, I know a lot of you have no idea where Qatar lies on the map, just that we're floating somewhere in the Middle East:
Qatar is a peninsula sticking out of Saudi Arabia, there's Bahrain to our west and the UAE somewhere in the southeast.
Qatar, and especially its port cities, have always been an important stop for Arab travelers to the East and West in the 1300s and later European explorers to the East. Qatar's political system was basically made up of a collection of tribes with their individual tribe leaders that sometimes got together to discuss issues (sort of like a rudimentary parliament if you may!). Qatar has never been involved in any major wars with outside powers save for a battle with Portugal who tried to occupy the country in the 1500s and with Bahrain in al-Zubara in the 1800s (where a lot of my family died fighting) as well as the Gulf War in 1990 (but it wasn't fought on Qatari soil).
Qatar's economy was largely based on pearl diving and the industry flourished until the discovery of the Japanese cultured pearl. The cultured pearl was a huge blow to the pearl diving industry, most people lost their jobs and Qatar entered a deep recession with widespread famine which only ended with the discovery of oil and natural gas in the 1940s.
RULING FAMILY AND POLITICS
Qatar is a constitutional monarchy and the ruling family is the al-Thani family. The Emir (ruler/prince) is called Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani (Hamad son of Khalifa son of Hamad al-Thani). He is a genuinely nice guy! He isn't the type of ruler who locks himself away in an office never to be seen by the public. Sometimes you'll see him in the Baskin Robbins near his house buying ice-cream or driving his own car (he doesn't like to be driven) somewhere, or even with his wife Sheikha Moza bint Nasser having dinner at a restaurant! And he absolutely loves children! I don't know why I've always found that to be very endearing about him.
Qatar is a rentier state which means that the government makes enough money out of oil and gas revenues to not need to tax the populace. So we have free housing (when we need it), free education, free healthcare and no taxes (so far)!
I think you're all interested to know about the chairman of the Qatar bidding committee and Sheikh Hamad's son, Mohammed bin Hamad al-Thani *wink wink* the first thing you need to know is how humble and down to earth the man is, it just melts your heart! He is only 22, graduated early from Georgetown University in Qatar and speaks fluent Arabic, English and French. This is him lighting the Asian Games 2006 torch on horseback:
Qatar got it's independence in 1973 after the withdrawal of British forces from the region, it experienced rapid development after that which slowed down in the 80's and 90's due to a drop in oil prices and weak leadership. Sheikh Hamad took control of the country in 1995 and after that it was like the FWD button had been pushed and rapid development made up for the stagnant years.
ISSUES PEOPLE HAVE REGARDING QATAR 2022:
QATAR DOESN'T HAVE A LEAGUE SYSTEM OR A NATIONAL TEAM
I know a lot of you have never been to Qatar or even heard about it before so it's very hard to understand how deep football runs in our veins. Some people have said that Qatar doesn't have a national team or even a league. We do, we have both actually! Our national team hasn't had much luck in the international arena since the 80's but things are looking up. The Qatar Stars League, which is the first division league and the most watched, has 12 teams the oldest being formed in 1938 (waaaayy before Qatar was even an independent state!).
This is Mansour Muftah, a Qatari player that played for al-Rayyan club and the national team in the 1980s. He was pretty awesome.
QATAR HATES JEWS AND ISRAEL AND THEY WILL BURN THEM
Good god! WE HAVE NOTHING AGAINST THE JEWISH FAITH! Absolutely nothing! Actually, Islam and Judaism are very similar and muslims believe in the Torah (and the Gospel too btw). Qataris are educated people, even though we might have our issues with the Israeli state, we know how to differentiate between a nation's foreign policies and a nation's football team!
HOMOSEXUALITY IS ILLEGAL IN QATAR. HOMOSEXUALS WILL BE IN DANGER IF THEY GO THERE.
This is something that is a bit hard to comment on. First of all, it is impossible to enforce a law banning homosexuality, if you believe people are born homosexual there is nothing the law can do to change that. The thing with homosexuality and Qatar is that Qatar is a Muslim country, not a secular one and homosexuality is not something Islam believes is right. Are there homosexuals in Qatar? Yes, there are a lot and none of them are in jail. Some of them are accepted by their families and some are not. Again, Qataris are [mostly] educated and open-minded people and we are not wont to shove our beliefs down anyone's throat, so if you are a gay man or a lesbian and you want to come down to Qatar and experience the World Cup in 12 years time no one will say no to that! Whatever religious belief we have about the issue it does not apply to you if you do not adhere to that religion! Homosexuals will not be in danger if they come to Qatar, they will be treated (they ARE treated) like any other visitor to the country. I hope I've made this point clear, it's very hard to explain to people who don't live here :(
AHHH IT IS SO HOT I AM GOING TO DIE AND ALL OUR PLAYERS WILL SUFFER HEATSTROKE!
Give us some credit here, please. We're hosting the world freaking cup, we're not going to throw you in a tent in the desert and leave you to the mercy of the elements! The heat is an issue, I admit, but I have been to Al-Sadd Stadium to watch the Al-Rayyan v Al-Sadd derby and while it was about 30-something degrees celsius outside it was a cool 19 degrees in the stadium. The training facilities will also be air conditioned so you won't have to worry about the players! As for the fans, I'm not sure what the plans are yet but we've managed to live very comfortably in the desert for millennia, I'm sure we'll find a way to make it comfortable for everyone else as well :) (Google Qatar 2022 stadia - you'll be amazed!)
WOMEN ARE OPPRESSED.
Now this really hurt me personally, as a Qatari woman. I don't know how else to put it other than to say that women are absolutely not oppressed. You saw Sheikha Moza bnt Nasser al-Missned on TV I suppose, and her daughter Hind. Do those women look like they're oppressed? There is this very strange misconception that just because a woman wears a head scarf or a burka she is oppressed. What you see are the head scarves an burkas, I know the women behind them and they are every bit as outgoing and strong-minded as any woman in the West. Qatari women are educated (I'm studying International Affairs at Qatar University), we drive, we work and we go wherever we please (we do not need a man with us! Where did that come from?!). We have different traditions that some people might find surprising but that is what makes Qatar different from, say, America or France or India! And you can dress in whatever you like, walk around in a speedo for all I care! Women: you do not have to be covered up from head to toe, you can wear the same things you wear to matches at home. Same goes for men but please leave the floral print short-shorts at home! *shudders*
Qatar Businesswomen of the Year Awards
ALCOHOL IS ILLEGAL! I NEED MY BOOZE FIX!
This is pretty funny because I've been to my fair share of hotels around the country and you can find walls of expensive wine bottles stacked one atop of the other! No one minds, the more conservative people who do just don't frequent those places. Alcohol is not illegal in Qatar, but it is illegal to sell it without a license (which is the same worldwide I assume). Anyone can buy alcohol though, Qatari or non-Qatari and Muslim or non-Muslim. So yeah. They'll probably open up a couple of bars here and there to satisfy our English brethren when the time comes (;
BRINGING THE WORLD CUP TO A COUNTRY THAT HAS CONTRIBUTED NOTHING TO FOOTBALL OR WON ANY WORLD CUP IS A JOKE. And WHAT WILL THE WORLD CUP DO TO QATAR AND QATARI FOOTBALL?
First of all, I wasn't aware that you had to win a world cup to be able to host a world cup! Secondly, Qatar has done quite a lot, especially when it comes to youth football through it Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence which sponsors children from across the region and from countries in Africa.
You've asked what would bringing the World Cup do to Qatar and to Qatari football. I can't begin to imagine! You should have seen when the Argentinian and Brazilian teams came here! It was INSANE! When Messi walked onto the pitch I felt my eardrums burst! When the Gulf Cup came to Qatar a few years ago it was magical! True, it was only a small competition between the states of the Arabian (Persian?) Gulf but it had a huge impact on us! I was in middle-school and just feeling the camaraderie and closeness that the game brought was... indescribable! It was the first big event that Qatar hosted and we were so proud. The Asian games came in 2006 and we had to change a lot of things, build new hotels, roads, malls... etc. and we did it and it was another beautiful experience! Being exposed to so many cultures and having our culture exposed in a medium where there would be no judgement, where all predispositions were left behind was an entirely new feeling for us. Football is something we love, we do not have the organization or tactics of European football or that beautiful rhythm of South American football but we have the same passion, and that ought to count for something.
Hosting the Asian Games in 2006
BLASPHEMY! NAKED WOMAN! COVER HER IN A BURKA!! Err... no. Haha!!
QATAR IS TOO SMALL TO HOST THE WORLD CUP!
Qatar's size is actually a good thing, it means people can get around more easily and there will be less travel time which means you can actually attend three matches in one day! It's geographical location is also ideal because the matches will be played at a time suitable for virtually every country in the world (Qatar Standard Time GMT +3).
The allegations of bribery through petrodollars is offensive as well. It is as if to say that our oil rent is our only merit. The bidding committee worked tirelessly for years to make this happen with the help of the Emir and they have proven that Qatar has the capabilities to host a completely unique world cup like it's unique hosting of the Asian Games and hopefully the Asian Cup in January. It's a typical insult that I expected to be slung about by the less refined, less educated people to whom I have nothing further to say.
I think I've said all I set out to say. I really hope you can show a little bit more respect, I know tempers run high when people are passionate but it would be really nice if we could all be civil and remember that, at the end of the day, all our countries entered the bidding contest because of their love for the game, let's keep that spirit in mind. I am confident that, come 2022 (I'll be 32! God!) Qatar will leave you amazed :D
If you have any questions I'll be more than happy to answer them!
[edit: I deleted what I said about Obama because I felt it wasn't very well thought through :)]