A British parliamentary delegation concluded a three day fact-finding mission to Qatar last week, including visits to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) offices and a 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ stadium site. Led by Conservative MP Dr. Phillip Lee, the delegation held state level meetings before being given an accommodation site visit at Labour City.
Talking to www.sc.qa at the end of the visit, Dr. Lee – who represents the Bracknell constituency on the outskirts of London – said he saw real signs of progress in a number of areas, including workers’ welfare.
He said: “We have also concentrated on the World Cup, visited the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, and then went out to Labour City and one of the stadiums for 2022. The scale of development in Qatar is remarkable, and the fact that they’ve taken all of this on including metro and stadiums is quite a remarkable feat for such a relatively small country. To have so many people here working at the same time, and to be appearing to be very much ahead of schedule in that they are going to be completed by 2020, is a truly remarkable feat.”
The Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Qatar added that the SC was making a real effort to make the tournament in 2022 enjoyable for fans from all over the world.
“I was in the England fans supporters club, so I was at two World Cups as a football fan,” Dr. Lee pointed out. “I came here with a different approach because I know what it is like to be a fan at a World Cup. I can see that they are trying everything to make it good for the fans. Transportation will be easy, the design of the stadiums is fantastic, and I was impressed all around. In particular that a World Cup has never been to this region is hugely important.”
The visiting delegation from the UK was accompanied by H.E. Yousef Al-Khater, Qatar’s Ambassador to the UK, and was given an extensive presentation at the SC offices on the plans and progress taking place in Qatar towards 2022. The SC Workers’ Welfare Standards were also discussed during the meeting, followed by a site visit to Labour City to see their implementation.
“They have been very open, accepted that mistakes were made, and have made real efforts which we’ve seen evidence of to improve the situation,” Dr. Lee added. “My impression was that the difficulty about awarding contracts to contractors who did not have appropriate working environment, they have done a lot of work on that. We went out to the Labour City and it is a very impressive environment.”
“Colleagues were talking to workers and there was freedom of access, we were not shepherded around in a controlled way. It is important to talk about the opportunities these workers are getting which they would not get in their home countries. We heard stories about people who extended their homes back in India or Bangladesh, who sent their children to private education.”
Discussing the criticism of Qatar, the Conservative M.P. concluded: “I do think they have recognised there were issues, I don’t think they say there aren’t still issues to deal with, and they are determined to deal with them. They want this to be a successful World Cup and they want Qatar to come out of it with an enhanced reputation.”
“Qatar has the World Cup, it is going ahead and they want to make it a success. A lot of thought has gone into it, they continue to work extremely hard on all levels, they have responded to criticism and are candid, open people. It has been an encouraging visit and I look forward to coming to the World Cup in Qatar.”
“Their strong desire is for ordinary fans to come here – which is why they have addressed issues such as alcohol in fan zones – for people to come here, and go away with a changed, positive perception of Qatar and indeed the broader region. I think that is an admirable goal considering the instability in the Middle East.”
The British Ambassador HE Mr Ajay Sharma was also present throughout the Parliamentary visit and said: “I am glad that members of the British Parliament were able to come to Qatar to see the country first-hand and hear from very senior Qatari figures – including the Prime Minister – about Qatar’s partnership with the UK as it takes forward its impressive and ambitious plans, including for a successful World Cup in 2022.”