Doha 2016 Games Could Promote Peace, Change Perceptions

Hassa Ali bin Ali, chairman of Doha’s bid committee for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, told Al Jazeera that he believed an Olympics in Qatar would be more than a sporting event, it would contribute to Middle East peace efforts and help change Western perceptions about the Arab world.

He said, “everyone will have to mix with Arab athletes, Israel will come to an Olympic Games in an Arab country, this will create dialogue.

“Perceptions of fundamentalism and fanatics give a bad picture of us. When people come to our country they will see something totally different…they will see the heart of the Arab world”.

Bin Ali added Doha’s bid is backed by billions of dollars and state-of-the-art venues. “It’s unique, it’s the first in the history of the region, and we have big support. Our strength is our venues, 75 per cent are already constructed and the costs of staging the Games have been guaranteed”.

Bin Ali said Arab countries in Africa and the Middle East have signed a communiqué to back Doha’s bid, which would be held in October 2016 to avoid the heat.

As for the other cities bidding for the 2016 Games – Baku, Chicago, Madrid, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo – Bin Ali said, “we respect the other host cities, they are strong bids but we are different. We have a vision of creating dialogue, understanding and hope. We want to break down the barriers, we believe we can achieve that”.

Bin Ali addressed concerns that Qatar has a tiny population of less than 841,000, and more than half are migrant workers from South Asia and the Philippines. But he said Qatar’s population would swell to as much as three million by 2016 and people from neighbouring Gulf states would flock to see the Games.

He said “the Olympics is the greatest show on Earth, everyone will want to watch it. It’s an opportunity for us to unite the whole region together. We are very happy with the bid”.