FIFA 2022 winter dates in doubt after floods expose Qatar’s poor infrastructure

Motorists drive through a flooded tunnel in the Qatari capital Doha, following heavy rainfall. (AFP)

Despite the stunning pictures that Qatar is sending to the world regarding its FIFA 2022 preparations, the reality on the ground looked different on Monday after a year’s worth of rain showers exposed Doha’s poor constructions and infrastructure.

Critics’ doubts on the feasibility of the 2022 tournament – already surrounded by suspicions of corruption and human rights violations – took another turn when Qatar announced a strange plan to accommodate the tens of thousands of fans expected to show up in four years’ time.

The proposed plan reveals a difficult Qatari predicament caused by the fact that the country is small and lacking in preparations, with many doubting whether Doha could accommodate the large number of fans between Nov. 21 and Dec. 18, 2022.

The company of Katara, the largest hotel owner in Qatar, announced on Sunday that it will equip about 20,000 hotel rooms on cruise ships in the Gulf to host tens of thousands of visitors.

The company’s CEO, Hamad Abdullah Al Mulla, said the plan would include building a number of ships in the coming years to be readied before the World Cup.

But what’s worse is that the plan also includes the construction of tents in the desert areas close to the stadiums hosting the World Cup.

Qatari sources said earlier that the small country hopes to host one and a half million visitors during the month of the World Cup, mostly in the capital, which will cause a heavy burden on the infrastructure of Doha and its environs.

The rain that hit Qatar on Saturday exposed the state of the infrastructure of the country and the lack of readiness for such sudden events, knowing that it could rain during the world cup especially since it will be held in the fall.

Logistical headaches

Qatar was hit by widespread flash flooding on Saturday as the desert state received almost a year's worth of rainfall in one day. Roads became impassable, air traffic was disrupted and homes were flooded, while shops and universities closed.

Qatar Airways was forced to divert some flights with some Qatar-bound flights being forced to divert to Kuwait and Iran and the airline warned its passengers to expect further problems.

"Due to weather conditions over Doha, flights are subject to delays for departure and arrivals," Qatar Airways said on Twitter.

Social media in Qatar showed cars almost completely submerged under water, after thunderstorms over Doha.

Other footage showed rainwater running downstairs inside buildings as workers desperately tried to mop up.

Qatar's National Library, not yet a year old, was forced to close and said it would remain shut on Sunday to ensure the "safety of our users".

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
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