A prominent Indian expatriate and a longtime Qatar resident has actively participated in the activities for promoting the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup during his visit to Russia to watch the football World Cup 2018. “We had a very good opportunity to interact with a large number of people from various countries. We were also able to clear certain misgivings among the Western people about the weather conditions of Qatar and the labour situation in the country,” said Dr Mohan Thomas, who watched the final and third-place playoff at the tournament in Russia, along with fellow compatriot and technology consultant Sujit Raphel.
“We could clear some of the propaganda campaign against Qatar on labour-related issues. We gave a clear picture of the facilities for workers provided by the government of Qatar. We told them that Qatar has religious freedom and the country looks after foreign workers very well. There are good labour laws in the country like compulsory salary transfer to banks, nice accommodation as well as good working conditions,” explained Dr Thomas, who is also founder-chairman of Birla Public School.
“Most Europeans are very friendly and they have a very cordial approach to Qatar. However, many of them had a feeling that the Arabian region is very hot and the temperature is above 40 degrees Celsius throughout the year. I clarified to them that the temperature is high only during summer and in November to December it is between 17 and 27 degrees Celsius, which was news to most of them.”
According to Dr Thomas, who is an ardent football fan, Qatar promoted FIFA 2022 in a big way in Russia. “Qatar had set up a Majlis in Gorky Park, Moscow, in the very Arabian tradition. It was a great experience with falcons, Ghawa being served, seating arrangements in the traditional Arabian style, traditional sword dancing, Oryx statues as well as some replicas of the shops in Souq Waqif, among others. There were hoardings on the streets with the message ‘Welcome to the Arabian Experience’ and messages at the airport, ‘See you in 2022’,” he noted.
“During our stay, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani visited the Majlis and interacted with everyone. There was also a pavilion by Ooredoo, which showcased models of all the World Cup stadiums in Qatar. After receiving the 2022 FIFA World Cup host’s mantle at a ceremony in Russia, His Highness the Amir had said the “World Cup Qatar 2022 is a championship for all Arabs”.
Dr Thomas said putting on the official jersey of 2022, “we had carried a placard with the message ‘Welcome to Doha-Qatar 2022’ in several languages”. He continued, “People from other countries were very much interested in our message and wanted to have pictures with the placard. We had a chance to interact with the premium fans of several countries at the fan zone. From our interactions, we could understand that many of them want to have an Arabian experience in Qatar and we could convey a positive message about Qatar to the football fans from across the world,” he said.
Dr Thomas said FIFA 2022 will be a real World Cup in its true sense as citizens of almost all countries are residents of Qatar. “Almost the whole world is represented in Qatar. Qatar is a very modern and multicultural country. We felt it was our duty and privilege to convey the message that here is a country that is free and fair to everyone. Come and enjoy the game,” he highlighted.
Dr Thomas said he has promised all co-operation to the 2022 World Cup officials towards the conduct of the game. “On behalf of the Indian Sport Centre, we have offered our services to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. We have also offered the medical services of doctors and nurses for the conduct of the game. In addition, we are planning to create a Guinness record for the longest painting in the world on FIFA,” he added.