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Floating hotels deal signed for Qatar 2022, landmark sustainability strategy revealed

Qatar has taken another step towards addressing the accommodation challenges it faces for the 2022 Fifa World Cup after a partnership to offer an array of floating hotels was signed, while world football’s governing body and the tournament’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) have unveiled the event’s first-ever joint sustainability strategy.

Ahead of Qatar 2022, Qetaifan Projects, a Katara Hospitality-owned company, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Admares, which specialises in alternative real estate projects.

The MoU includes the construction and operation of 16 floating hotels on the shores of Qetaifan Island North to provide accommodation for visitors within the fan villages during the World Cup. The hotels will be 72 metres long and 16 metres wide, each consisting of 101 guest rooms, a restaurant, and a lounge bar. All of the 16 four-story hotels will be identical, offering a total of 1,616 floating hotel rooms.

The site of Qetaifan Island North has been chosen due to its proximity to Lusail International Stadium, which will host the opening and final games of the World Cup. The hotels have been designed by award-winning Finnish architect firm, Sigge Architects, and will be built according to the strictest energy standards, relying on solar energy.

Mikael Hedberg, chief executive of Admares, said: “This is the first time ever that pure floating real estate has been used as a temporary solution for accommodation needs at this scale. These hotels do not require major ports and deep water as their draft is significantly less than large cruise ships.

“After the World Cup, the hotels can be placed at any coastal location where the water is at least four metres deep. We are excited to be part of the solution for the amount of accommodation needed for the Fifa World Cup 2022.”

The announcement comes after the SC in November agreed to charter two cruise ships for the duration of the World Cup. The SC partnered with Switzerland-based MSC Cruises to utilise two of its liners as floating hotels, which will be docked at the Doha Port throughout November and December of 2022. The two ships will add a total capacity of 4,000 extra beds to the Qatari capital.

In other news, Fifa and the SC have delivered a sustainability plan for Qatar 2022 which they state is the first to be planned and delivered jointly by Fifa, the host country and the local organisers. Five years in the making, the associated policy applies to all functional areas and projects involved in the preparations for and staging of the tournament, in addition to post-event activities.

Five sustainability commitments have been defined. Firstly, to develop human capital and safeguard workers’ rights; secondly to provide an inclusive tournament experience; thirdly to catalyse economic development; fourthly to deliver innovative environmental solutions; and fifthly to set an example of good governance and ethical business practices. On that basis, a total of 22 objectives have been set, together with more than 70 initiatives and programmes to deliver the strategy and achieve the objectives set.

SC secretary general and Qatar 2022 chairman, Hassan Al Thawadi, said: “When Qatar bid to host the Fifa World Cup 2022, it did so with a vision to use the tournament as a catalyst for sustainable, long-term change in Qatar and across the Arab world.

“From the start, we believed in the power of football and the Fifa World Cup to inspire innovation, to build bridges between cultures and peoples and to accelerate positive social transformation. Our measure of success for the tournament in Qatar will ultimately be the legacy it leaves behind. This strategy will help Qatar to realise that vision and ensure its success.”

The rights of workers, particularly migrant workers, helping to develop Qatar’s vast infrastructure projects ahead of the World Cup has been one of the main focus points for critics of the controversial decision to award hosting rights to the Arab country.

In October, the International Labour Organisation, a UN-affiliated employment rights agency, announced that Qatar is planning to abolish the controversial kafala migrant workers law and introduce minimum wage reforms ahead of the country’s hosting of the World Cup.

Fifa and the SC today (Tuesday) said the issues and initiatives that form the framework of the strategy were identified with the help of a “thorough and continuous” consultation process with local and international stakeholders and thematic experts. Throughout the process, over 100 national and international governmental, non-governmental and private-sector organisations were consulted. Furthermore, the development process for the strategy also included a full human rights salience assessment, a first for a major sporting event.

Commenting on the strategy, Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) general secretary, Ambet Yuson, said: “The BWI recognises the commitment and efforts made by the SC and Fifa to improving the working and living conditions of construction workers building the 2022 tournament projects in Qatar.

“The SC, in particular, has taken the risk and broken new ground by going far beyond declarations to form a partnership with the BWI in order to conduct joint safety inspections and train elected workers’ representatives. This is action on the worksite and not mere words and promises of reforms. It is making a difference for construction workers.

“In the strategy, Fifa and the other tournament organisers commit to expanding these efforts to cover workers in other sectors involved in delivering the tournament. We know that this work has already begun. The workers’ rights legacy of the 2022 tournament will be more meaningful once these initiatives are implemented for all workers in Qatar – in construction and beyond.”