It hasn’t been a good week if you are an Arab ruler. Wikileaks exposed the subservience of the Arab leaders to the West and their contempt for the Muslims. While Thursday’s announcement that Qatar will stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup may have brought a smile or two, the news was slightly overshadowed by England’s humiliation in losing the 2018 bid, but Qatar will be the first Muslim country to host the tournament.
Qatar beat other bids from Australia, Japan and South Korea and America to secure the tournament. The veiled xenophobia at Qatar hosting the tournament has already begun – its going to be too hot, too alcohol free and too football-yob unfriendly to warrant going anywhere near the place. One has to remember there remains 12 long years between now and the start of the tournament, Qatar still has time to sell it’s soul to appease the Western football fan. Qatar is well known already for being the home of Al-Jazeera and the Al Udeid Air Base which is used by the Americans to aid it’s global ‘War on Terror’, so who says Qatar doesn’t know how to accommodate foreigners.
Hosting the tournament won’t be cheap, millions have already been spent just to secure the tournament with reports suggesting the former French footballer Zindine Zidane was paid £15 million to front Qatar’s bid.
Qatar will build 12 stadiums, a brand new 50 million passenger airport, a high speed rail link and a satellite city capable of housing 200,000 people. High tech solar-powered cooling systems will ensure both pitch and stadium temperatures will be kept down to 27ºC. The infrastructure changes alone will cost the emirate nearly $43 Billion.
It has been hailed as victory for the whole of the Middle East, showing FIFA’s daring to gamble on taking the tournament to a new part of the world. Just like the tournament earlier this year in South Africa and the Commonwealth games in India hosting a major sporting tournament is almost seen as a rights of passage for any developing country. The abundance of oil money in the Gulf sates means they are not unnoticed in the wider world, whether it be for their mile tall Skyscrapers, their super rich elite or their bailing out of the British banks, they are firmly part of the glitterati of the world.
However the oil wealth of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which comprises Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman is matched in equally high levels of poverty in other parts of the Middle East, such as Yemen. Yemen sits on the border of the largest oil supplier in the region Saudi Arabia, however it has some of the highest malnutrition rates in the world, especially amongst the under fives. It is the old story of the haves and have nots.
No one can doubt the wealth the GCC countries have, the sheer audacity of the Qatari bid would put many struggling Western economies to shame, it is equally clear that this wealth is not always put to the best use. The Oil that is the source of this wealth, could easily become the saviour for many Muslims in the world, all that is needed is a clear vision. It must not be forgotten that this wealth is not the sole property of a ruling family or a country but it belongs to the whole ummah.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said “Muslims are partners in three things: in water, pastures and fire” reported by Abu Dawud. This means the Billions of dollars earned every year from Oil and Gas sales in the GCC belongs to the whole Ummah.
The distribution of wealth to the most needy is a fundamental part of the Islam, The messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “The Son of Adam has no better right than that he would have a house wherein he may live, a piece of clothing whereby he may hide his nakedness and a piece of bread and some water.” [Tirmidhi]
Surely this wealth would be much better spent on the many millions of Muslims who need it more than the football fans of the world. There are numerous examples from the Islamic history as to how the Caliphs distributed the available resources for the benefit of the Muslims. The Caliph Umar Bin Abdul Aziz ensured that the needy did not go without food by distributing wealth and abolishing unjust taxes. His methods were such a success that when it came to time to distribute the Zakat, the state could not find anyone in need of it.
The rule of the Muslim world under the Islamic Khilafah is littered with examples of the alleviation of suffering a just system can produce. The Muslims of Qatar and the world need to just look beyond organised distractions and use the abundant wealth and resources at their disposal to be the standard bearers to the rest of the world, not only in football stadia but in every aspect of life.