Qatar hopes to attract 1.2 million World Cup visitors

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“98% READY”

Some fans and commentators have expressed concerns that the conservative Gulf country may not offer visitors the same experience as past tournaments.

Nuaimi said that while alcohol was not part of Qatari culture, “alcoholic beverages will be available in designated areas”.

Qatar has also faced criticism for its treatment of migrant workers, many of whom are involved in preparations for the World Cup.

The issue of worker deaths is ultra-sensitive for Doha, which has disputed media reports of avoidable deaths among migrant labourers who are predominantly from South Asia.

Campaigners accuse employers of exploitation and forcing labourers to work in dangerous conditions.

“We try not to let these criticisms hold us back,” Nuaimi said.

Qatari authorities have repeatedly insisted that they have done more than any country in the region to improve worker welfare, and say they have “always been transparent about the health and safety of workers”.

Energy-rich Qatar has so far inaugurated five of the eight stadiums that will host the World Cup.

The 40,000-seat Al Thumama Stadium, 12km south of central Doha, was the latest to be opened, hosting a domestic cup tie on Friday (Oct 22).

Qatar had earlier inaugurated the new-build Ahmad Bin Ali, Al Janoub and Education City stadiums alongside the refurbished Khalifa ground.

Ras Abu Aboud, Al Bayt and Lusail, which will host the final in 14 months, are yet to be opened.

Nuaimi stressed that “98 per cent of the construction was ready, and preparations will be completed by the end of the year”.

Qatar, which says it has vaccinated more than three-quarters of its population, will review COVID-19 infection data ahead of the Arab Cup regional test tournament due to kick off in November.

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