Qatar ready in all aspects to host 2022 FIFA World Cup: PM

Qatar ready in all aspects to host 2022 FIFA World Cup: PM

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Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani has affirmed the keenness of His Highness the Amir of State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to hold the Shura Council elections in a fair and transparent manner to strengthen the Qatari Shura traditions and develop legislation process and enhance citizen participation.

Speaking to Editor-In-Chiefs of Qatar’s newspapers, the Prime Minister cited the speech of HH the Amir during the opening of the 49th session of the Shura Council on November 3, in which HH the Amir affirmed that “the preparations for the Shura Council elections have almost reached their conclusion, and will take place in the month of October. We are taking an important step in strengthening the Qatari Shura traditions and developing the legislative process with a broader participation of citizens.”

The PM also noted HH the Amir’s assertion that “elections are not a criterion for national identity. The identity of Qatar has crystallized over time and appears in its best forms in the solidarity and cohesion of our society, its tolerant moral values, and its love for its homeland.”

The PM referred to the speech of His Highness at the opening of the 48th session of the Shura Council, during which HH the Amir affirmed keenness to complete the constitutional requirements for electing members of the Shura Council and for exercising its legislative powers under the constitution of Qatar.

The PM said, “There were no pressures for the Shura elections, but rather the conviction of HH the Amir to move forward towards strengthening the role of the Shura Council in developing the legislative process and expanding national participation, and ensuring the completion of the required constitutional procedures, which includes the issuance of many important laws and legislative tools, including the electoral system law that defines the conditions and procedures for candidacy and elections.”

The state has been divided into 30 electoral districts, taking into account their distribution that they include all regions and represent all segments of society and its components.

The PM said the Shura Council referred the draft electoral system law to the Council of Ministers. “The draft electoral system law and all legislative tools related to elections will be submitted for ratification by HH the Amir at the beginning of next August, after which the elections will take place according to a specific timetable, so that the elected council will begin its work.”

“The Shura Council elections are a new experience in Qatar. As the Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Supreme Committee to work on the laws regulating the Shura Council elections, I can confirm that the state does not support specific people in the upcoming Shura elections. The state supports the holding of free and fair elections that guarantee wide popular participation to choose the best,” the PM added.

In the end it is the decision of citizen alone to choose who represents him in the elected Shura Council through the ballot boxes. The PM noted the government’s keenness in the draft electoral system law that money would not have a role in the electoral process.

“We have put a ceiling on spending on electoral advertising and criminalize any candidate receiving foreign support or funding, as well as criminalizing any attempt to buy votes. Our role as a government is to ensure the integrity of the elections and the impartiality of all institutions towards any candidate. In order to achieve the principles of justice, equality and equal opportunities, and this impartiality includes the media, by providing a fair opportunity in media coverage for each candidate,” the PM added.

“We have also been keen on expanding constituencies to include all segments and groups of society.”

The PM stressed the importance of the elected Shura Council in the field of legislation and cooperation with the government to achieve the directives of HH the Amir and the Qatar National Vision 2030, and to contribute to promoting the development process and the comprehensive renaissance that Qatar is witnessing.

Whether it is decided to move the site of the elected council to another place, the PM confirmed that the current location of the Shura Council, in its majestic building, constitutes a historical symbol that “we are all proud of.” The PM noted that the current headquarters has been expanded to ensure the media presence in the next council to follow up on the sessions.

Regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the state’s efforts to contain it, the PM affirmed that the government has succeeded in dealing with the crisis since its outbreak by reorganising the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management, which in turn imposed strict precautionary measures, taking care that these measures do not affect negatively.

The PM said, “The government’s efforts succeeded in containing the epidemic, but we have not completely defeated it yet. We have overcome the effects of the last wave of mutated strains (British and South African) last March.”

The PM added, “From the first moment, the idea of a complete closure was rejected by the government, due to the lack of a clear study even in the countries that implemented it, and we adopted the implementation of studied measures for each of the activities and areas to limit the spread of the virus, and among practical examples we closed part of the Industrial Area after the first discovery of a case, and it was the first epicenter of the pandemic, which we succeeded in encircling and preventing its transformation into a source of the spread of the virus. We benefited from that experience in a rapid response and besieging the sources of increasing rates of infection.”

On the national programme for vaccination against the virus, the PM clarified that approximately 72 percent of the total population will have received at least one dose of the vaccine by this week.

The PM praised the health sector and the great role played by health cadres in preventing the spread of the virus. The PM also noted that the commitment and confidence of community members in the precautionary and preventive measures taken by the authorities concerned contributed to the decline in infections.

As for the vaccines adopted by Qatar to confront the virus, the PM said, “There are many countries that have resorted to choosing the available drug of any kind, but Qatar moved early and contracted with large companies that have a global standing in the field of the pharmaceutical industry and conducted the necessary laboratory experiments on them approved by the World Health Organization. Qatar chose the best vaccines that have been proven effective and approved, which are Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna.”

The PM said early investment in these companies allowed Qatar to have priority in obtaining vaccine doses.

Regarding the preparations for hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the PM affirmed that Qatar’s preparations to host the World Cup are progressing well and at an accelerated and distinguished pace, despite the difficult circumstances that swept the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The repercussions of the COVID-19 affected a bit at the beginning, but since we started preparing early, we succeeded very quickly in facilitating the delivery of the required materials in coordination with the companies working on the World Cup projects,” the PM said.

The PM stressed that Qatar is ready to host the tournament in all aspects, whether completing the construction and equipment of stadiums and infrastructure related to the World Cup projects, which are being worked on at very excellent rates.

The PM said a large number of World Cup stadiums have been completed and are already ready to host matches, as a number of them have hosted important football events, while the preparation work is currently continuing in three stadiums: Lusail, Al Thumama and Ras Abu Aboud.

“Lusail Stadium is the main stadium that will witness the final match of the World Cup on December 18, 2022, and it is 90 percent ready,” the PM said.

The PM stressed that the 2021 Arab Cup next December will show Qatar’s capabilities in hosting major tournaments a year before the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar. It will also reflect the efficiency and readiness of the infrastructure and World Cup facilities.

“The infrastructure for the World Cup is ready in all respects and at the highest levels, including a transportation network and various services, including accommodation and healthcare. In general, things are going well and according to the plan,” the PM noted.

Regarding the mass attendance at the World Cup and how to deal with the influx of fans to Qatar in the event that some people do not receive a full vaccination against the virus and the precautionary measures taken in this regard, the PM said, “When the date of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 comes, most countries in the world will have been vaccinated and immunized its citizens. However, and due to the possibility that some countries will not be able to vaccinate all their citizens, Qatar will not allow fans to enter stadiums without receiving a full vaccination against the virus, and therefore we are currently negotiating with a company to provide one million vaccines against the COVID-19 to vaccinate some of those coming to the FIFA World Cup Qatar. Our primary goal in vaccinating some of those coming to Qatar to attend the World Cup is to protect the public health of citizens and residents.”

With regard to the efforts of Qatar to protect the rights of expatriate workers, the PM said affirmed that securing a decent life for expatriate workers is a top priority for Qatar. The PM highlighted the reform of labor laws and practices to achieve a system appropriate to the needs of both workers and employers.

The PM said Qatar has implemented over the past few years pioneering and wide-ranging reforms to strengthen labour laws and ensure protection of the rights of migrant workers.

“There are individual actions by some companies, or as a result of the greed of merchants, which were represented in the failure to provide adequate housing, the disruption of the payment of wages and the failure to guarantee the most basic rights for workers. The work was done in a framework of balancing the private interest and the public interest,” the PM added.

“These reforms stem from our morals, traditions, principles and teachings of our true Islamic religion, which do not allow workers to be mistreated or to waste their rights, but rather are keen to ensure a decent life for them, address cases and individual violations of some individuals or companies and take strict and deterrent measures in confronting them,” the PM said.

The PM pointed out that Qatar’s labour reforms are widely praised internationally by the most important human rights groups and United Nations organizations, which makes Qatar a leader in the region with regard to labour reforms. “These reforms are effective and long-term, and are the result of years of thoughtful planning,” the PM said.

The PM stressed that Qatar has responded during the past years to many malicious campaigns, which promote incorrect information and numbers about the conditions of expatriate workers, “We have refuted these allegations and found that they have foreign agendas to undermine the reputation of the State of Qatar,” the PM pointed out.

The PM also spoke about the new retirement law, and the most prominent features of the amendments. The PM stressed that the directives of HH the Amir provide for ensuring a decent life for retired citizens.

“HH the Amir directed to raise the minimum retirement pension to QR15,000,” the PM said, adding that nearly two years have passed since the state studied the retirement law.

The PM stressed that the draft law is currently in the final stages of preparation and the procedures for its issuance will be taken soon after referring it to the Shura Council for discussion.

The PM stressed that the law to be issued will include many articles that are in the interest of the retirees, and that there are amendments to the law, to add housing allowance among the allowances, as well as amend the provisions for “advancements”, to keep pace with the burdens of life and meet the aspirations of retirees and ensure a decent life for them.

Regarding the state’s efforts to preserve public money and combat corruption, the PM said, “Combating corruption is an issue that HH the Amir has been concerned with since he was Crown Prince. HH the Amir is always keen on emphasising that no one is above the law and that there is no immunity for any individual in society in this field, in order to preserve state funds and the rights of future generations.”

The PM stressed that the state is keen to confront all forms of corruption, including corruption and administrative negligence, which among its forms obstruct the interests of citizens, which “we also reject and take daily measures to confront it”.

The PM also stressed that, at the same time, no accusations will be brought against anyone without clear evidence.

“In this regard, I would like to make it clear that corruption always leads to great damage to society, so we are keen to combat it in all its forms permanently and publicly, and therefore for the first time a statement is issued by the Public Prosecution that the former Minister of Finance was summoned for interrogation, and this confirms the extent of transparency followed in this regard, and the laws regulating the procedures for trying ministers, including the court for their trial, have been changed so that everyone is equal before the judiciary, and without immunity,” the PM noted.

“Qatar is a state of institutions, and our strategy in combating corruption does not depend on specific individuals, but through legislation and oversight bodies. The government has also approved several other laws in the context of combating corruption and promoting integrity and transparency, including the Anti-Conflict of Interest Law, the Public Official Integrity Charter and a draft law regulating information circulation. The Cabinet had recently approved the issuance of the Anti-Conflict of Interest Law, during which a conflict of interest was defined as any situation in which an employee or a person associated with him has a material or moral interest that conflicts or is likely to conflict with the duties or responsibilities of his position or job, and the law affirmed that the employee must disclose cases that may lead to this. The government also approved a draft law regulating the circulation of information, and the Council of Ministers also issued a charter of public employee integrity,” the PM said.

Regarding future measures in curbing the spread of corruption, the PM said, “There is a periodic update of relevant laws and decisions on combating corruption and enhancing integrity and transparency to avoid any shortcomings, and new legislation will be issued to protect public funds.”

The PM added, “As part of the preparations for the elected Shura Council to assume its duties upon its election, the government recently approved a draft law on the organisation of the Shura Council, which included, among other things, the rights and duties of a member of the Shura Council and the prohibitions imposed on him, which confirms the government’s vision and its constant and continuous commitment to fighting corruption and prevention and enhance transparency.”

Regarding the announcement of the trial of people accused of corruption cases, the PM said, “Only the competent judicial authorities will determine whether or not to publish information related to investigations and trials, and we do not interfere in that.”

On the impact of investments in the announcement of corruption cases, the PM stressed that the announcement of corruption cases represents the highest levels of transparency, and the recent statement of the Public Prosecution regarding the investigation with the former Minister of Finance confirms this, and that Qatar is a state of institutions and will not be affected by the investigation of any official or person in society.

“The institutions possess Qatari cadres who are able to carry out their roles with all seriousness and professionalism, and are also able to compensate for the absence of any official. The work is ongoing and it’s going on collectively and not individually, and the minister and official are required to prepare and qualify cadres of second and third grade leaders, in implementation of the vision of HH the Amir,” the PM said.

The PM praised the role of the media in supporting the state’s efforts to confront corruption, and spread a culture of integrity and transparency.

The Prime Minister also addressed the strategy of upgrading administrative competencies and improving the performance of ministries and government agencies.

“We have gone through many experiences in the process of advancing administrative competencies in various ministries and institutions and upgrading the level of job performance. My vision as Prime Minister is that we can advance national competencies through clear and accurate plans and studies, and to achieve this goal we have formed a government competency committee, which will finish its work soon. One of its main objectives is to improve the performance of government agencies and develop a clearer job description, as well as study changing the competencies of some ministries and reviewing some government agencies.”

“Among the committee’s tasks is also to put in place the necessary reforms in human resources systems to address the increase in manpower in some entities, avoid a shortage in the number of employees in others, and re-examine and organise job privileges. In fact, there are challenges we faced in preparing the government efficiency plan represented in the lack of micro statistics, we work hard to beat it,” the PM added.

Regarding the evaluation of the Kawader recruitment platform and the demands to develop plans for its development, the PM said, “We cannot accurately evaluate the Kawader platform, as it is a new experience, and there are countries that have copied it from Qatar… The platform has its pros and cons, and I am personally interested in the issue of employment, and it has been put as an item permanently on the agenda of the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers and discussing overcoming all obstacles standing in front of this important topic.”

The PM continued, “The private sector has also been directed to contribute more to employment by raising the percentage of Qatarisation of jobs, and we will provide all support from our side in order to attract this sector to Qatari employees to make it a source of attraction for national talent, by providing privileges such as providing government housing, retirement insurance and other incentives.”

With regard to plans for electronic development of public services, the PM said, “We are working hard to develop services in the e-government, under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and we have a pioneering experience in the Ministry of Education, which is the electronic service, which began in 2013 and was a successful experiment, but it has not been developed since. During the coronavirus pandemic, we used this technology in the application of distance education, and we strive for e-learning to be more interactive between the student and the teacher.”

The PM continued, “With regard to the single-window service in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, it is a good experience, but it is linked to other government agencies, and the electronic link is being developed between these agencies. We have a good electronic model such as the Metrash2 application, which has proven successful and we will develop it through a new version. From the application, it includes the inclusion of the personal card, driver’s license and car ownership form within the application, and we will announce these updates in an expanded way soon.”

“We aspire to make an ‘electronic wallet’ that includes bank cards, and we are now studying the technical and security risks and preserving information and electronic security in cooperation and coordination with competent authorities,” the PM added.

With regard to supporting scholarship plans and motivating citizens to work in the various sectors of the state, the Prime Minister said, “In the education sector, we found that there is some shortage in citizens’ turnout to study certain specialisations that are required in some sectors, such as health, educational and computer. We will address this by placing privileges for students on scholarships to study the specialties that the state needs. For example, in the education sector, in the past we had self-sufficiency in female national teachers, but now we have a shortage for many reasons, and we are continuing to address the imbalance in scholarships and appointments in the educational sector.”

The Prime Minister also revealed a study to implement the part-time system for women in order to maintain family stability.

“I am personally interested in this file, and this study took a long time and we are working on it greatly, and we are also working to establish new rules for job competency that everyone will benefit from and have an impact on future generations,” the PM noted.

“We have visions and plans for the advancement and upgrading of all service sectors for the benefit of citizens, and they will be implemented as soon as the relevant studies are approved.”

In response to a question about the future of the tourism sector in Qatar and the desired aspirations it has achieved, the Prime Minister said, “Our tourism facilities are not the desired ambition that we are looking for, as there is a discrepancy in the prices of hotels and various tourist facilities. We have 5-star hotels with high levels of services, and there are hotels and other facilities with a low rating and their services are limited, and between this and that there are no facilities or services of an average rating, despite their great importance and that they are the most prevalent in most tourist countries, which are needed by multiple categories of tourists and visitors.”

On the future plan for the development of the tourism sector, the PM said, “We seek to create new places that suit and interest all segments of society and tourists. Legislative tools for restructuring the tourism sector will be issued soon, and the subordination of the regulators to this sector will be to the Prime Minister.”

The PM stressed his keenness to direct the authorities concerned to follow-up the quality of services and prices in resorts, hotels and tourist facilities constantly to be accessible to everyone because this concerns a large segment of society.

“We also have a complete national strategy to develop the tourism sector, which will include the development of beaches, which is an integrated project that includes many areas, and the Tourist Leader Programme, which will prepare specialists to accompany tourists during their tour to explain the landmarks to visitors and provide complete information about the country’s landmarks. The “Visit Qatar”

application, which was launched last March, is an application on smart phones, to be a digital travel companion for visitors, citizens and residents, so that they can explore heritage and cultural sites as well as tourist events planned to be held in the country. We seek to advance the tourism sector to be an honorable civilized interface. The past, reality, and promising future of Qatar, and an essential supporter of the economic diversification programme,” the PM said.

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