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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 October 2018

Qatar would 'welcome' Israel in 2022

Despite not recognising the Jewish state, officials said they would let Israel take part if they win the 2022 World Cup.

DOHA // Qatar would let Israel take part in a World Cup on their territory despite not recognising the Jewish state, the head of the Gulf nation's bid to stage the 2022 event said yesterday. Such an invitation would be unprecedented in the Arab world, in which most countries shun Israel. Hassan Abdulla al Thawadi, chief executive of the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid, said the Muslim state would also permit alcohol consumption during the world's most watched sporting event.

Qatar, like its Gulf Arab neighbours, does not recognise Israel. "All nations participating in the Fifa World Cup are welcome," al Thawadi said, when asked about whether Israel would be allowed to participate if they qualified. If Qatar were to win the right to host the World Cup in 2022 it would be the first time football's greatest showpiece has been held in the region. "We've got a bid that allows history to be made in different aspects like opening up the gates between the East and the West to sit and communicate," said al Thawadi. "There have been previous World Cups where the weather was quite hot and they were able to host a successful event.

"We are looking to develop technologies to address the heat issue, in such a way that utilises renewable energy. "In 12 years' time that technology will be much more developed and the source of energy such as solar energy will be utilised on a commercial basis." The next deadline in the 2022 bidding process is December 11, when bidders must submit a signed hosting agreement. The authorities in Qatar have tightened regulations on alcohol consumption over the last two months in an attempt to stop Qatari citizens, especially young people, from drinking. Qataris are not allowed in bars while foreigners are asked to present their passports or a membership card to gain entry to venues that sell alcohol.

"We are looking at 2022 to be an event mainly for families to attend - on the other hand alcohol will be available in a flexible approach," added al Thawadi. "It will be available to all fans that come to Qatar, at fan zones." * Reuters